Students at Tamanawis Secondary School are busy preparing to hold the 22nd annual “Christmas Community Dinner.”
Set for Dec. 5 this year, organizers say the event is held “to support less fortunate families throughout the Surrey community and provide them with a traditional turkey dinner and to provide presents for the children.”
“Our main purpose for the dinner is to give them a memorable and joyous holiday experience,” organizers add.
The evening will include dinner, gifts for all the children in attendance and entertainment for an expected 300 guests. The night’s entertainment will include performances by the Tamanawis Dance Team, a well as the school’s jazz band and choir.
Other activities that are planned include a visit with Santa, a hot cocoa and s’more station, arts and crafts, and “DIY decorated desserts.”
This year’s theme is the movie Elf, chosen through a student vote, and there will be a “selfie with Elfie” station set up.
Grade 10 student Destiny Amadin is part of the leadership class organizing the 2019 iteration of the event.
“It’s a lot of work,” she told the Now-Leader. “There’s a lot of stuff you have to do both inside and outside of school to make the event happen.”
Destiny said the evening “has a very significant impact” on families in the community.
“Through doing it, you’ll feel pride knowing you were able to help people who are in need, or who just want to come out and have fun. It’s a nice celebration for Christmas – an early Christmas.”
Leadership teacher Debbie Mackenzie explained that the event was started by students, on a much smaller scale, with about 150 people attending in the early years.
It’s grown over the years to now serve 300, with tickets provided through Options Community Services. Mackenzie said Tamanawis works with some of the “neediest” elementary schools in the area and Options helps find the families to serve at the dinner.
“One year we had over 400 people show up, and we were carrying tables in. It was a bit hectic, so that’s why we’ve had to limit it to 300,” Mackenzie explained.
Like last year, there will be two sittings of 150, the first at 5 p.m. and the second at 6:30.
Mackenzie said she’s “really impressed” with this year’s group of student organizers.
“They’re a strong group of kids. They have to apply to be into the program, so they’re some of our best for sure. They’re definitely taking their leadership roles very seriously. It’s a stressful process for sure.”
The students plan everything, she added, from picking a theme to eliciting donations.
Anyone wishing to donate to the event can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tamanawis Secondary School is located at 12600 66th Ave.
-With files from Lauren Collins