The 24th annual To Stratford with Love Banquet is coming up on Saturday, Dec. 22, and another big crowd is likely to take advantage of the free meal and fellowship.
Up to 640 people are expected for the holiday dinner and entertainment, held again this year at the Rotary Complex. That figure does not include the 150 volunteers who help over the course of the day to ensure everything runs smoothly.
The theme for this year’s event is “Community Serving Community.”
“We want to make it personal this year in the fact that if anyone knows a friend, a neighbour or anyone who is going through a difficult time, they they invite them to the dinner and actually share the evening with them,” says organizer Richard Kneider.
The dinner represents the culmination of months of planning, donations. As the turnout continues to grow each year, so does the cost to run the event and the quantity of food required.
To ensure everyone goes home on a full stomach, Richard figures they need 120 pies for the evening, 350 pounds of beef and at least 640 baked potatoes, as well as coffee, pop and ice cream.
Most of the food has been donated, but Richard says they are still short on beef and pies.
Volunteers are also needed to greet guests, serve the meal and clean up afterwards.
Up until this year, Richard and his wife Ruth have held the dinner as a separate function from their charity Simple Dreams Stratford, but made the change this year to assist with planning and streamlining funding.
As an added benefit, people who make a financial donation can now be issued a charitable receipt.
Tickets for To Stratford with Love are available through the House of Blessing, Salvation Army, Madelyn’s Diner, Habitat for Humanity Re-Store and City Hall.
Anyone wishing to volunteer or make a donation have three options: contact Sue Orr at 519-273-5592, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the event Facebook page.
Monetary donations can be sent to “Simple Dreams Ministry Ontario Inc., RR5, Stratford, ON, N5A 6S6.”