It may seem too early to talk about Christmas, but it’s not, considering the Community Christmas Dinner may not happen if volunteers don’t step forward now.
Paula Wolkosky, who has been lead coordinator for the event for about the last 15 years, is stepping aside from that position.
“I’m stepping aside for personal reasons,” she explained.
Having volunteered with the dinner in one capacity or another for 35 years—since its inception—Wolkosky can’t walk away completely. She’ll stay on in an advisory position for the new lead coordinator, and is remaining the event’s treasurer.
There are over 15 coordinators in total, many who commit annually to the community event. This year, a lead coordinator, food coordinator, and a decorating coordinator are needed. “We have to have more people or it’s cancelled,” Wolkosky said.
Each coordinator doesn’t need to know specifically what the other coordinators are doing, she explained. “So you need a person who keeps it all together. I call myself the ‘Keeper of the pieces’!”
The lead sets up meetings, works with any new coordinators, and makes sure everything is done on time—basically starts the ball rolling in October and carries it through to when the thank yous get sent out in January.
The food coordinator position has often been held by two people. This coordinator(s) decides on the menu, orders all the food, sees that all the food is cooked on time and generally is responsible for the kitchen and works closely with the dessert coordinator and assigns duties to the servers.
The decorating coordinator connects with the schools regarding decorations, works with the floor manager on Dec. 24 to get the hall set up with decorations, tables, stage etc. and in the end decides which decorations to keep for next year.
Meetings are held once a week starting in November. A wrap-up meeting is held after the event, and then it’s all over until the following November.
The Community Christmas Dinner has been a Grand Forks tradition for years.
The dinner welcomes everyone of any age and walk of life. There is no charge for the dinner, which is held at the Gospel Chapel on Donaldson Drive.
Doors open at 11:30 a.m.; dinner is served at 12 noon. The event usually finishes around 2 p.m.—but that’s after a full meal, entertainment, and, of course, a visit from Santa!
Dinner is also delivered to RCMP, paramedics, Customs officers and shut-ins—no one goes without a warm, full-course Christmas dinner. The dinner feeds about 450 people every year.
“It’s for everyone; it’s a real community event.” Wolkosky said. “To see people from all walks of life sitting together and sharing a meal warms my heart. It’s also a great way to meet new people,”
To volunteer or to find out more about the dinner, call Wolkosky at 250-442-2689.