Christmas Day dinner at The Salvation Army’s Bloor Central location in the heart of Toronto was a happy occasion for more than 1,000 Torontonians who might otherwise be spending Christmas hungry and alone.
“Not everyone has a home to go to, family to spend time with or friends who are near,” says Adam Marshall, volunteer coordinator. “We provide a traditional Christmas dinner in a fun and welcoming atmosphere.”
More than 120 volunteers supported the annual event by cooking 65 turkeys, manning a photo booth with goofy Christmas costumes, providing entertainment, door prizes and serving guests throughout the day at tables set with festive cloths and centerpieces.
From people experiencing homelessness to those who are grieving to those who suffer from mental illness, Marshall says the common denominator throughout the room was loneliness.
“One gentleman came who hadn’t spoken to anyone in a week,” says Marshall. “That wasn’t an isolated case. Loneliness is hard anytime of the year but especially at Christmas. People are on their own for all sorts of reasons.”
And Christmas Day isn’t the only day that meals are served. On any given Saturday night throughout the year you’ll find 250 people gathering at Bloor Central for a meal and more.
“Hunger is part of why people walk through our doors every week,” says Marshall. “They come because they find acceptance, belonging and friendship. When you connect with others you know you aren’t alone in your struggles. There is a lot of comfort in that.“
Last year, The Salvation Army served 3.2 million free meals at our shelters and feeding programs.