It'll be yet another busy season for the Auckland City Mission who are preparing for New Zealand's largest Christmas lunch.
Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrelly says it takes a huge amount of effort to put on the successful annual event.
“This is my first Christmas at the Mission and I am looking forward to spending the day surrounded by guests, staff and volunteers, sharing a meal and enjoying each-others’ company,” he says.
“This Lunch promises to be a memorable culmination for what has been an incredibly memorable year, not just in terms of the level of need we have witnessed, but also in terms of the support we have received and the difference that we, as a community, have made for those around us who are struggling.”
This year, the Christmas lunch menu includes the preparation of 2,000 chicken drumsticks and 300kg of ham, as well as the cooking of an assortment of vegetables (540kg). For dessert, there will be bucket-loads of jelly to be made to go with mountains of ice-cream bars.
For the Christmas Day lunch, an estimated 550 volunteers will contribute about 2,200 hours to decorate the venue, wrap presents, prepare and cook the lunch, serve meals, and clean up afterwards.
Since the beginning of December, the Mission has been distributing emergency food parcels to up to 350 families in desperate need every weekday. At least 7,000 gifts have been distributed to these families, in the hope that every child has a present to open on Christmas Day. The Mission has also provided gifts to other Auckland community groups to distribute to the families they work with.
“Christmas is always the Mission’s busiest time of year,” says Mr Farrelly. “Families who are able to get by on limited incomes most of the year often find Christmas and surrounding issues push them over the financial edge. We would like to take this opportunity to remind people that it is not too late to donate funds towards the Mission’s work – both now and into 2017.”
The doors to the Christmas lunch open at 11.30am on Christmas Day. Entertainment will be provided until lunch is served at12.30pm. Every guest will also receive a gift before heading home.