After public call for help, Bissell Centre New Year’s Day dinner a go
A week after the Bissell Centre said their annual New Year’s Day dinner, that feeds hundreds of Edmonton’s homeless, was in jeopardy, officials said a number of local companies had stepped in to save it.
For the last 25 years, the Bissell Centre has hosted a New Year’s Day dinner that served about 600 people. The dinner is the largest event put on by the organization.
In mid-November, officials said the event might not take place on January 1, 2017 – saying the current economy had affected companies that typically helped with the event and the organization didn’t have enough help to host the dinner.
“We were probably within a few days of shutting down,” Darren Brennan with the Bissell Centre said.
However, the community quickly stepped up to help, by the dozens.
“Immediately we were getting calls, we were getting emails,” Brennan said. “We got over 50 offers of support to keep New Year’s Day dinner afloat.”
One of the businesses that offered is Donna’s Eatery, owned by Dwayne Choufi.
“We provide quite a bit of catering for a lot of corporate companies, but mainly we do look after the people that are in this area,” Choufi said.
Choufi said he heard about the issues the Bissell Centre was facing, and visited the organization.
“I’ve been blessed with my business for myself and my family and I think giving back is quite easy on our part,” Choufi said. “These people don’t get much of a meal most times, the meal has to be good, it has to be done properly.”
Staff from Choufi’s catering company and restaurant will work for 60 hours to prep the 1000 meals that will be served at the dinner.
“We don’t have volunteers, everyone that’s going to be doing this is going to be paid accordingly for their time,” Choufi said.
Donna’s will be cooking turkeys provided by Alberta Turkey producers, potatoes will be donated by Norbest Farms, and Collin Bruce Mortgage Team is paying for the other food. Pegasus Paper is donating cutlery, napkins and plates, and for dessert, Wow Factor Desserts, Duchess Bake Shop and Confetti Sweets are chipping in.
The Bissell Centre is grateful for the community support.
“We are so excited and appreciative of that,” Brennan said. “They would not have had a place to go to get off the streets during the day, to come for a warm meal and access winter clothing, as well it would have been hugely detrimental.”
With files from Breanna Karstens-Smith