Surrey students serving up Christmas merriment

SURREY — With the season of giving underway, two Surrey high schools have done just that by staging huge Christmas dinners for the less fortunate in their communities.

Kwantlen Park and North Surrey secondary schools both opened their doors recently to invite those in need to come in, enjoy a warm Christmas dinner and some student entertainment during the holiday season.

At North Surrey Secondary, 150 seniors from local care homes were invited on Dec. 2 to enjoy what’s become a long-running Christmas tradition at the school.

Held in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Surrey Guildford, the dinner offers seniors who may not have many opportunities to get out a chance at doing just that.

"Some of the seniors have also come from the food bank roster and the focus has always been those seniors who are kind of shut in, have difficulties moving around the community," explained North Surrey vice principal Doug Ratzlaff. "We have a very active branch of the Rotary at the school, the Spartans of the Society and this is their signature event."

The event is now in its 25th year and, like years past, the food was provided by Rotary while the manpower was provided by the 60 or so Spartans, as well as the school’s culinary arts program.

"It went really, really well – probably one of the best we’ve ever had," said Ratzlaff. "We had lots of food, lots of turkey dinners and everyone enjoyed it."

Later that same week at Kwantlen Park, less fortunate families and individuals in the community were also invited to a dinner that’s fast-becoming an annual tradition.

"It started about four years ago and was generally an idea in the department that we’d like to do something for people that are not as privileged necessarily as we are during Christmas time," said Kwantlen Park principal Rick Breen. "We’re in the greater Whalley community and there’s a definite presence of underprivileged people in the community."

With that in mind, the school’s home economics department came up with the idea of offering Christmas dinner to local families and people in need and it’s transformed into what Breen says has been a valuable event for the community.

"We do about six turkeys, some hams, potatoes and the kids make up a bunch of cookies and gift bags and as the families leave they’re handed a gift bag," explained Breen. "The students get super excited about it and we usually ask them if they want to earn some volunteer hours and make a different in their community and there’s been really great turnouts."

As for those benefitting from the dinner, Breen said they’ve been nothing but thankful since the beginning.

"They’re generally just really happy to have a meal, they’re appreciative and happy to have a little bit of company," he said.

"Some of the kids will sit down to talk to them and they appreciate having a warm dry place to be. Some people might not always have a solid roof over their heads every night so it’s just nice to have a hot meal and a treat to take away from it."

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