Need remains high at New Life

By Vanessa Ybarra
November 28, 2016 - 5:48pm Updated: November 28, 2016 - 6:32pm

KAMLOOPS — While many of us may think of Christmas as a special time to enjoy food and presents with family and friends, not everyone has that luxury. 

For those in Kamloops who are homeless and have little money to spare, Christmas can be a lonely and isolating time. 

To help, every year New Life Community Kamloops puts on a Christmas Eve dinner to brighten spirits.

WATCH: Full report by Vanessa Ybarra

According to centre staff, the meal wouldn't be possible without volunteers and the generous support of the community. "It's always a really exciting time," said Stan Dueck, Executive Director of New Life Community Kamloops."People can come down and get that full sit-down Christmas dinner kinda thing. It's a time for people to really connect."

New Life Community Kamloops has been holding its annual Christmas dinner for more than 30 years. 

From the turkey and stuffing, right down to the desserts, almost everything these volunteers serve up on Christmas Eve is donated.

"We always have a big group because sometimes we're serving over 300 people," said four-year volunteer Gordon Kerfoot.

This past weekend the centre kicked off its annual Christmas campaign, asking for donations for their annual event. 

Dueck says with the rising cost of food, as well operating costs, no donation is too small. 

"We still have bills we have to pay just to keep the doors open," said Dueck. "From rent and utilities right down to maintenance and staff costs, the Christmas campaign is a really important one for us in that it sets us up not just for Christmas but beyond Christmas as well."

This year's homeless count revealed there are 108 people living on Kamloops streets. 

Last year Raphael was one of them.

"I got tired of rent increases", said Raphael, who has been using New Life Community Kamloops for the past five years.

He says New Life's Christmas dinner provides hope in a time of need. 

"It's awesome," said Raphael. "Even on the 25th I get to celebrate Christmas at the church. There's always a Christmas dinner for someone." 

With such a large number of clients, the outreach centre is also looking for coats, blankets, and gloves this year to hand out to those in need.

Dueck says if past years are any indication, he's hopeful they'll be able to top the total $150,000 they raised in goods and money last year. 

"Christmas is a giving season and we certainly notice that we benefit from that. We couldn't do what we do without the community."

Food and clothing can be dropped off between 8am and 181 Victoria Street. To make a money donation, click here

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