Union Gospel Mission gets ready to serve 3,000 Christmas dinners to those in need

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For the 75th year in a row, Vancouver’s Union Gospel Mission is preparing to feed thousands of Christmas dinners to the people of Vancouver.

Continuing a tradition that’s existed since they first opened their doors in 1940, UGM is busy preparing 2,500 lbs of turkey, 800 lbs of mashed potatoes, 600 lbs of pies, and much, much more, to go to people who might not otherwise get a Christmas dinner.

“This is a really crucial time of year for them,” Jeremy Hunka, Senior Public Relations Specialist with UGM told Vancity Buzz. “What we find is at this time of year, when people come in they start thinking a little bit more. Christmas can be a turning point for them. When those who are entrenched in life on the streets, have been homeless for a while, the reality really starts to hit home.”

Hunka says that when people experience hardship like this, sometimes all it takes is a hot meal to turn things around.

“When guests come to eat they connect, they’re cared for, and then they’re encouraged to get into recovery,” says Hunka. “All of a sudden what may just be a Christmas meal is really the start of a miracle in someone’s life, and it’s a really awesome thing to see.”

Hunka says that, 75 years later, UGM is lending the same helping hand they always have, and they have no plans of stopping or slowing down.

“It’s part of our DNA. When this organization was started it was all about helping the vulnerable, and restoring dignity to people who were down and out, or thought they were down and out,” Hunka says. “We understand that this community, especially in the DTES, is sometimes viewed as a place where there’s a lot of brokenness, where there’s mental health issues, there’s addiction issues. But since 1940, when we began, we’ve also seen that this is a place of joy, of hope, of transformation, and ultimately a place where people can have lives turned around, transformed and they are thriving because UGM is here helping in certain ways. We aren’t going to mess with a formula that is working. We want to honour those traditions.”

Union Gospel Mission Christmas dinner

When: Saturday, December 5

Time: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Where: Union Gospel Mission – 601 East Hastings Street, Vancouver

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Shawn O'Hara Shawn is a Staff Writer at Vancity Buzz. He loves writing about news, arts, movies, comedy, and culture. Some would argue Shawn is too old to still play Dungeons & Dragons. Shawn would disagree.

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