Hosting a community Thanksgiving dinner isn’t just about feeding those in need, it’s also about providing hope.
About 175 Red Deerians were expected to be fed during a community turkey dinner at The Mustard Seed on Monday.
“For a lot of the guests that we serve, this is their community. This is a place they can come where we know their name and they can be in a warm place, and receive kindness,” said Becky Parsons, volunteer co-ordinator at the Red Deer Mustard Seed.
“A lot of our guests walk through their lives with people avoiding them and not making eye contact or crossing to the other side of the street. They come here because they’re valued here. Between the other guests they may know here, the staff members and the volunteers, there’s a sense of community.”
The Mustard Seed provides meals on holidays, Parsons added.
“I believe in what we do here so much. It’s so great to work here with the staff and volunteers that come here because we all believe in the same thing,” she said.
“We’re trying to get hope back into people’s lives. It’s more than coming in for a meal, it’s about giving hope to people. That’s the most important part.”
Chef Bruce Villamor prepared the food ahead of the Thanksgiving meal, which was set to begin in the early evening. In the morning and early afternoon, staff members and volunteers chopped veggies, peeled potatoes and worked to get the meal ready.
Volunteers are “incredibly important” to The Mustard Seed, Parsons noted.
“We rely on our volunteers. Mustard Seed would not run without volunteers and donors,” she said.
In addition to the meal, The Mustard Seed also provided coffee, snacks and hygiene products to attendees on Monday.
The Mustard Seed also provided 320 food hampers to central Alberta families on Thanksgiving through its Time for Turkeys fundraiser. The fundraiser raised monetary funds, as well as donations of turkeys, to provide meals to families that are currently signed up for The Mustard Seed’s school lunch program, which supports 500 children and youths in central Alberta.
“The need for meals has definitely increased over the last couple of years, especially more so now with high food prices and the cost of living,” said Parsons.
For more information on The Mustard Seed, visit giving.theseed.ca/reddeer.