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Cause it’s tough eating alone

Like many good ideas, it started with a need in the community.

Like many good ideas, it started with a need in the community.

With a large number of rooming houses in the Hintonburg community, a blues bar owner mentioned putting on a free Christmas dinner for people who might otherwise be alone, or couldn’t afford a meal.

The idea sparked the imagination of the people in the community.

The owners of the Carleton Tavern, Sam and Simon Saikaley, volunteered their restaurant as a venue. Businesses and members of the community pitched in, giving money and food donations to help those less fortunate have a happier holiday.

“We were surprised by how successful it was,” remembered Vance Fandrey, co-chair of the Hintonburg Economic Development Committee, which co-sponsors and helps to organize the event. “We were flying by the seat of our pants.”

A decade later, the Carleton Tavern is again preparing to host the annual Christmas Day Dinner.

The event is still free and going strong, with hundreds of donors and volunteers ready to welcome an anticipated 700 people on Dec. 25.

Although the event is free for anyone who can’t afford it, Fandrey said “the social need is greater than the economic need.

“There were a lot of rooming houses in the neighbourhood at that time, and there still are a few. And there’s a huge seniors’ residence on Wellington.”

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