A group of Wetaskiwin locals took time this Christmas to ensure that those in need in the community would receive a warm Christmas dinner.
Harold Sharkey says, “I had gotten a couple extra turkeys this year.” This sparked an idea for Sharkey that instead of just donating the extra turkeys he would collect donations to gather enough supplies to make an entire Christmas feast for the city’s less fortunate this holiday.
Sharkey worked together with Leanne Meyers and Brad Jessop to gather supplies, including going on grocery runs, with donated funds and on their own dime.
Sharkey, Meyers and Jessop worked together with Wetaskiwin restaurant Asian Curry House to cook and prepare the dinner on Christmas Day to bring to the Hub. Asian Curry House cooked three of the turkeys, as well as some sides and provided the serving trays for the food.
Sharkey says in total they prepared six turkeys at approximately 25 lbs each, 50 lbs of mashed potatoes, 30 lbs of turnips and carrots, 20 lbs of parsnips, and a large collection of onions, beets, cookies, pops and cheeses.
“We had it all roughly prepped by 3 p.m. Christmas Day,” says Sharkey. With all the food portioned out into the Asian Curry House’s trays they delivered the fresh meal to the Hub.
They also brought over centerpieces made by Mickey’s flowers that were sold at a discounted cost to Sharkey and his team so that a splash of Christmas flowers could accompany the donated dinner.
Sharkey says that due to COVID-19 concerns they unfortunately were unable to serve the dinner to those in the Hub, however they were able to wish them a merry Christmas.
About 35 people in the Hub were waiting on dinner that night.
“Later that evening I saw a group of six or seven ladies walking around with paper plates,” Sharkey says. He recalls them telling him how much they enjoyed the meal.
Sharkey also says that the Hub staff were incredibly appreciative of the holiday gesture.
To Sharkey making and donating this dinner meant more than just giving back to his community during the holidays.
“About six or seven years ago I found myself a single dad of four,” Sharkey says. This life change resulted in Sharkey and his family needing to rely on a homeless shelter at one point. He says that it was striking for him to look back at his situation and to now be in the position to give to a shelter was an amazing feeling.
“For me starting back at a homeless shelter, coming back and being able to give back was pretty awesome,” he says. “I’m absolutely ecstatic about it.”
Sharkey says that he is already planning for next year and says next year they will give themselves more than seven days to prep the entire dinner. “We are probably going to make it an annual thing.”