TRURO, N.S. – About 200 people joined Aaron Stevenson for Christmas dinner last year. Luckily, he had help preparing the meal.
Stevenson has been heading up Christmas at the Café for several years, with community businesses and individuals donating food and money and volunteers preparing meals.
“It’s become a tradition for a lot of people,” he said. “It’s put on by, and for, the community. There are a lot of hands involved.”
He held the first dinner at a fair trade café he owned in Bible Hill. Although the event is now held at Truro Farmers’ Market, the Christmas at the Café name stuck.
He decided to hold the event so that people who might be alone at Christmas could have a sense of family. It drew international students, people new to the community, people who live alone and families who just wanted to join in a community celebration.
“My favourite part is being able to talk to people and hear stories,” said Stevenson. “It’s a way to make new friends and a chance to see people you might not have seen all year. Everyone is welcome.
“Our kids have been involved since day one, and it is very much part of our Christmas tradition.”
The doors open at 2 p.m. and people socialize and enjoy live music and snacks until the first setting for dinner, at 4:30 p.m. Many people stay until the gathering ends, around 7:30 p.m.
Any food not eaten on Christmas Day is given to the Truro Homeless Outreach Society.
“It’s hectic leading up to it but it’s just such an incredible experience to be part of and see people from all aspects of the community come together,” said Stevenson. “The community is really getting behind it and owning it.”
Anyone interested in volunteering, making a donation for the meal, or with questions can message Christmas at the Café on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ChristmasAtTheCafe/ ) or Aaron at firstname.lastname@example.org . Donations can also be dropped at NovelTea.