Mission serves up Christmas dinner to 500

More than 500 people in need got a warm meal at Siloam Mission today, and those who served them seemed to enjoy the affair as much as those who dined on turkey and all the trimmings.

"I was heading down the wrong path, quite honestly. I could have been one of these people," said David Cowdery, one of more than 80 volunteers who prepared the dinner.

"I always knew people needed help," added his son, James. "I just didn't know how many."

The sit-down dinner — no one had to stand in line to be served — began with grace led by Floyd Perras, executive director of the mission.

"We want to make this a special thing like at our own Christmas meal," Perras told CBC News. "We get served at the table. It gives everybody an opportunity to feel appreciated."

Garry Beatun, who has had difficulty finding a permanent place to stay since moving to Winnipeg from Selkirk, said he was grateful for the warm reception he found at the mission.

"It's amazing what they actually do here for the people," Beatun said. "It's nice to see that people do still care."

Oliver Wood agreed, saying being with other people at Christmas was as important as the food he received: "It makes me not feel as lonely, I guess."

Everyone who came to dinner received a stocking with soap, socks and sweet treats. And, thanks to a donation from E-Care Contact Centres, those who spend the night will find a backpack full of hygiene items, socks and treats beside their bed in the morning.

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