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Collingwood, This Is Why You Are The Biggest Gift of All

Posted by Sherry Rioux on December 22, 2015

My brain is tired and confused. It’s also more excited than ever.

First of all, what is going on with the weather? The sun is streaming in my window and John was just out with only a light rain jacket on. Rest assured if you know me, I’m not complaining one little bit but have to admit I feel a little sorry for the ski bums I see walking in circles, somewhat delirious and foaming at the mouth.

Secondly, this has been the BUSIEST YEAR EVER. It’s just days until we try to invoke our Rockwellian moments of family gathered by the fire where chestnuts are roasting… you know the drill. In reality, I’m sitting here with three offers, a bunch of emails to answer and a page full of showings to book which is now buried about three deep below the Christmas plans list, home inspection report, messages and my ever-present doodle pages. It’s just odd but…

I’m excited for Christmas like never before. Like a kid dreaming of a hover board under the tree, I’m so anxious for the arrival of Christmas Day and I just have to tell you why because really, it’s a story about Collingwood.

Set up beforeOur family gave up on commercial Christmas years ago and have done other things since. Last year, we gathered together a dozen friends (we call them elves) and started the Christmas Day Feast in Collingwood. We had no idea if anyone would come to enjoy a free meal with us on the 25th but come they did. There were families, seniors, people who were differently abled, lonely and hungry. There were others who simply wanted to enjoy the company of their community on such a special day. So we’re doing it again and this is where the magic happens.

This year, Collingwood has been the biggest gift of all. Really it is almost overwhelming. First, the Rotary Club of South Georgian Bay jumped on board right away, without question, to lend servers2financial and volunteer support in addition to using their wide range of contacts to make miracles happen. Then the Collingwood Curling Club donated their beautiful new lounge facility and so much more. From dishes and tables to audio equipment, volunteers and décor, they have been an outstanding host facility. Soon, financial donations starting rolling in from private individuals and from local businesses WITHOUT us ever asking! That is true giving, I’d say.

A special community based organization known as Community Connection 211 came on board to both make sure every agency in the area was notified and, they agreed to handle all the calls for reservations- that turned into acting as an enquiry hotline with hundreds of calls that they handled for us. Kathy Rasmussens of Social Web Media came on board to design our website and the Print Shop handled all the printing of our posters. All Saints Anglican Church,  our facility host last year and great champions, held a fundraising concert with proceeds to the Feast. Then came the hearts marching in.

CarrotsKathy and Bob Mason, a local couple with love to spare, made hand-crafted little Christmas treat bags for every anticipated guest. Then one of our registered guests, who is on a disability pension herself, called to say she wanted to make a special ornament for every guest to say Merry Christmas. Then some members of the Sound Investment Choir  came forward with an offer to sing carols for our guests outside as they arrive. The media began writing articles like this one and, they broadcast news of the feast across the airwaves while others shared the story online through websites and social media.  Then, without once going public or doing any real volunteer drive, every job from peeling carrots to doing the dishes, from serving food, taking pictures and turning the lights off after the last floor has been mopped, was filled by the middle of November. We’re talking here about almost 100 volunteers here. And you know what else? We’ve probably had another 100 or so people come forward to help that we’ve had to turn away.

Oh how the hearts march to service in this amazing little town.

Then the businesses came again. Every single turkey and ham has been donated and even the commercial facilities needed to cook them in. Apples, ice cream, warming ovens, goji berry sauce, food containers, coffee and even hangers have all appeared. Just look at the list of donors!  Every time we think of one more thing we need, it magically appears. As one of our planning elves says,

“There’s some serious Wooing going on with this feast.”

If you add it all up, there are hundreds and hundreds of hearts that have come together in this magical town. We already know that every seat will be filled and we expect to enjoy our Christmas Dinner with over 200 people this year. As J.T. the local editor said in a news article printed in the Enterprise-Bulletin, these are true stories that Hollywood writers could only hope to recreate.

Thank-you Collingwood. You have made a Christmas miracle happen.

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you!

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