Groups find ways to offer free Christmas meals in N.S. despite tightened COVID-19 restrictions

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Souls Harbour Rescue Mission will be serving traditional turkey dinners at its Halifax, Truro and Bridgewater locations on Christmas Eve. (Yanjun Li/CBC - image credit)
Souls Harbour Rescue Mission will be serving traditional turkey dinners at its Halifax, Truro and Bridgewater locations on Christmas Eve. (Yanjun Li/CBC - image credit)

Groups and businesses committed to offering free Christmas dinners to Nova Scotians are not allowing new public health restrictions to stand in the way of their generosity.

While gathering limits are in effect, organizations say they will be offering takeout and delivery options to people looking for a hot meal.

Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, which works with people experiencing homelessness or dealing with addictions, will be presenting people with gifts and stockings, as well as serving up a traditional turkey dinner on Dec. 24 in Halifax, Truro and Bridgewater.

They'll also be serving chowder on Christmas Day at their Halifax and Bridgewater locations.

"For people who are living in shelters or living in tent cities, how do you make it really feel like Christmas without some kind of a gathering?" said Michelle Porter, CEO of Souls Harbour Rescue Mission.

"That's what we're able to provide here through traditional meal service ... and whether they're having to eat it on the sidewalk, there's still people in the vicinity caring for them, loving them."

Michelle Porter
Michelle Porter

Porter says those serving and preparing the food will be staff and other board members rather than volunteers in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

And although there is limited seating available for a sit-down dinner, Porter says people are welcome to drop in and take their meal to go.

Elsewhere in Halifax, the Brunswick Street Mission will host a dinner on Christmas Eve, consisting of chicken or ham with sweet potato, greens, stuffing, gravy, dinner rolls as well as dessert for takeout.

Takeout turkey dinners and chocolate will also be available Dec. 24 at Shelter Nova Scotia on Cunard Street.

Jamieson's Irish Pub on Cumberland Drive in Dartmouth will continue a decades-old tradition of hosting a community Christmas dinner on Dec. 25, although this year will be takeout only.

"I grew up in this community, so giving back is definitely something I want to do and want to keep doing," said pub owner Crystal Robbins.

"It does feel really good. My children have been volunteering, as well, for the past couple of years."

Joan's Table, an evening meal program in Spryfield, will also be delivering Christmas dinners to those who reside at Herring Cove Apartments, supportive housing offered through Shelter Nova Scotia.

Porter said the act of giving and serving is what makes it feel like Christmas.

"We really are unable to provide any of these services without the generous support of Nova Scotians," she said.

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