For 18 years, it’s been a refuge for those who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Eve.
The volunteers with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Haven did it again Dec. 24, hosting 290 people by providing them a hot turkey dinner, entertainment and, most of all, companionship.
Usually about 300 people show up at the event.
“Everyone just had a wonderful time. Just lots of smiles,” said volunteer and Maple Ridge Coun. Corisa Bell.
She’s been helping out at the Haven for the last 10 years and points out it wouldn’t happen without about 60 volunteers who give their time.
Seniors, families in need and individuals all show up for the evening to be together.
The leisure services commission chips in by providing the Arts Centre Theatre.
“It went wonderful … because we have such great support from the community, the business community, and our residents. It’s magical and the ACT is such a special place to hold the event.”
The venue allows a seven-metre high Christmas tree and a comfortable place for entertainment and enjoying the turkey dinners that are cooked in the Salvation Army kitchens.
Bell said she’s heard that the event is unique to Maple Ridge and not found in other cities.
“Being alone on Christmas Eve, I personally don’t think there’s anything worse than the feeling being completely alone, in the entire world,” Bell added.
“To have a place for the community to come together and to celebrate and be happy on a night that can be devastatingly lonely, it’s just something that always gives me goose bumps.”