Free Christmas dinner in West Prince brings community together
'There's not enough of that going on, helping the people'
A free Christmas dinner for people in West Prince has grown into a major volunteer effort by Preston Murphy and friends — last year they served more than 175 dinners at St. Anthony's Hall in Woodstock, P.E.I., on Christmas Day.
"There was people that was home alone, people on the street with nothing to eat," Murphy told CBC Radio: Island Morning's Matt Rainnie.
We don't care if they're millionaires or what they got but they're welcome to come for dinner.— Preston Murphy
"A lot of people were bored, no place to go on Christmas Day, so what a good thing to do."
Murphy was never a big fan of Christmas — in fact, he says he'd often work plowing snow that day — but eight years ago he decided to start the community dinner that has now become a tradition.
Everyone is welcome
"Now, you got people together Christmas Day, families and everything, it's altogether different," he said. "We do an awful lot for people, it's scary what we do!"
Everyone is welcome for fellowship and food including salt fish and beans as well as traditional turkey and vegetables.
"We don't care if they're millionaires or what they got but they're welcome to come for dinner," Murphy said.
Murphy owns a construction business but takes time every year to lead about 40 volunteers. They gather Christmas Eve at the hall to peel vegetables and cook the turkeys.
"It makes you feel good — far as I'm concerned, there's not enough of that going on, helping the people," he said.
'I like Christmas now'
The dinner began with Murphy purchasing much of the food himself, but now most of it is donated, he said.
People who wish to donate can put some money in a can at the door which will go to local charities.
The first year they served about 75 people, he said. They'll also deliver meals to those unable to attend.
"I like Christmas now, I enjoy it — and it gives a fella something to do," Murphy reflected.
What about spending time with his own family?
"They all come there for Christmas dinner!" he said. "It's a get-together for everybody in one spot."
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With files from Island Morning