Christmas is a time for giving and this year a number of generous Brookeborough locals are giving their time to make Christmas Day special for those who have nowhere to go or no-one to celebrate with.

The idea to host a community Christmas dinner originally stemmed from Nathan and Kerry Johnston who had planned to open up their home to those in their area that had nowhere to spend Christmas Day.

Nathan explained: “Originally me and my wife were going to do it in our house, we knew we could cater for 15 people and then we always said if it got bigger than that we would put it on in the church hall, so we’ve 27 at the moment.We probably will be capping it at about 50 but there will be some flexibility in that.”

Funded by Brookeborough Elim church, the Christmas dinner will be completely free of charge and will take place in the church hall.

Sharing why they have decided to put on this community event, Nathan said: “We’ve recently been engaging in conversations with people and it just came up that they are not looking forward to Christmas through many different reasons so really it’s to try and give a bit of what Christmas should be to people.”

He added: “So if people are going away saying that they’ve enjoyed the day which otherwise they wouldn’t have then that would be a success. Even just the opportunity to help people in that end of the community and build relationships with people.”

15 to 20 volunteers from the Brookeborough area are giving up their traditional Christmas Day plans to help with the community Christmas dinner.

“Some volunteers are from the church and some are not from the church. We also have both sides of the community helping with it,” said Nathan, continuing: “Other people are asking if they can donate things towards it. It started out as the church putting it on but it’s a bit more broader than that now. Even one of the guys who is cooking on the day was a chef previously and he’s not from the church but when he heard about it, him and his wife would only be spending the day on their own so they wanted to come on board.”

“It’s kind of getting a bit of a snowball effect at the moment,” he added. Nathan also noted that some members of the community have volunteered to provide transport to and from the community Christmas dinner for those who have no way of getting there themselves.

“There’s one or two people that have offered to bring people that are housebound, those who can’t get out because they don’t have a car or whatever the situation may be, there are people that have offered to bring people to the venue and take them back home as well,” he said.

On the day, guests will be provided with a three course Christmas dinner and Santa Claus is due to make an appearance for any children who are attending.

“It’s going to run from 12noon to 3pm, there will be dinner in the middle and other things happening either side of it,” said Nathan.

Highlighting that the Brookeborough community Christmas dinner is open to people of varying circumstances, Nathan said: “These things can have a concept that it’s only for elderly, lonely people, which obviously it is but it’s broader than than that, it’s also say for a single mum who is just trying to get through Christmas on her own with the kids.”

“There’s a variety of different reasons why people are coming but really this is the first time we’ve ever done it so we don’t really know who will be there, we’re just going with it and seeing how it goes on the day,” he concluded.