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City Ottawa Mission a welcoming place for holiday meal; Attendance down, but need growing for annual Christmas dinner, says organizer Ilana Belfer Ottawa Citizen 599 words 17 December 2012 Ottawa Citizen OTCT Final C3 English Copyright © 2012 Ottawa Citizen Rob Legue is out of work and on disability. As he put it, "rent is high and food is low." But Legue, 50, celebrated the holidays with a traditional meal on Sunday: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes - the works, and unlimited plates, provided by the Ottawa Mission at its annual Christmas dinner.

TD He wasn't alone. The mission was set to serve 2,500 dinners over the course of the day, about the same number as it served last year. And they were fully stocked: one tonne of turkey, 50 gallons of gravy and 450 pounds of potatoes, as well as vegetables and dinner rolls. In the end, they only served 1,784 meals, with staff attributing the decline to the weather - snow and ice pellets - and other community events taking place rather than a decreasing number of people in need. "Every year there's more people coming for Christmas dinner and you're starting to see children come in," said Diane Morrison, who will soon retire after 20 years as the mission's executive director. "People are lonely or families don't have enough money to buy a turkey." Richard Wolski gets food at the mission a few times a week, and has been going there for 37 years. "We appreciate it," he said. "I'm one of the big thankers. I'll always stick my head in the kitchen and say it was a good meal. ... If they're getting some negativity, I'll always put the positivity in." This time, Wolski complimented the dessert - one of 3,000 cupcakes donated through an initiative called Cupcakes 4 Christmas, which Josee Cowley started three years ago. Cowley co-ordinates baking and collection via a website, Facebook and Twitter. "I keep going until I get my 3,000," she said. This year it took less than a month and 30 different sources to reach the goal. Cowley is one of 150 volunteers who made the event possible, along with the donors. Among the servers, greeters and seaters were Ottawa chief of police Charles Bordeleau and some officers, city councillor (Rideau-Vanier) Mathieu Fleury and Liberal MPP Madeleine Meilleur. Although Wolski said he felt hurt by a family member who called him a bum and didn't want him at the family celebration, the mission provides him with a sense of community. Page 1 of 2 © 2014 Factiva, Inc. All rights reserved.

"I probably know 90 per cent of the people in here," Wolski said. "All the boys sit together." The sense of inclusivity was particularly important to Katherine Goudie and her fiancée, Laura Lautzenhiser. "We come because we're gay and we're not discriminated against here," said Goudie, which is something she said they face dealing with other Christian-based services. The couple is currently living in Goudie's car after recently being evicted by a landlord they called their own Mr. Scrooge. "If you're hungry, the mission is a free place when you don't have anywhere else to go," Goudie said. "They understand what Christmas is all about." Another dinner will be held Christmas Day for shelter residents only. ART James Park, Ottawa Citizen / Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau serves orange juice and tomato juice to those attending the annual Christmas dinner at the Ottawa Mission on Sunday.; James Park, Ottawa Citizen / Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau serves orange juice and tomato juice to those attending the annual Christmas dinner at the Ottawa Mission on Sunday. [OTCT_20121217_Final_C3_85056_I001.jpg]; cana : Canada | caon : Ontario | ottaw : Ottawa | namz : North America Ottawa Citizen Document OTCT000020121217e8ch0001p

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