Hearty welcome for crowds
NEARLY 150 people formed one big family to celebrate Christmas and share in lunch at the Lismore Soup Kitchen's Christmas Day lunch at Lismore City Hall yesterday.
There they enjoyed a meal of chicken, ham and salads and received a Christmas gift, all provided by the soup kitchen, thanks to the generosity of community donations.
"There is a perception that on Christmas Day everyone has family and has a great time, but I don't know that that always works," Lismore Soup Kitchen president Mieke Bell said.
"At the soup kitchen we are family for people on a daily basis not just at Christmas time.
"So traditionally families get together on Christmas Day, that's why we have a party on Christmas Day, because we are all family.
"Every one of these people who come here are family to me, they are special," she said.
Ray Parry was one member of that family.
Mr Parry, 57, of Lismore, helped provide the lunch time entertainment singing carols with the Bridge Street choir.
"I like to be involved with the soup kitchen," he said, "and I like a big crowd," the entertainer in him said.
He said performing at the lunch was a "way of giving back".
"That's how I see it, and I say joy for all," he said.
Cassandra Burgoyne of Lismore was another member of the soup kitchen family.
She recently lost custody of her four children which made yesterday difficult for her.
"Today has been traumatic," she said. "Not having my children with me on days like this, no matter how happy, is incredibly hard to get through but I am enjoying it.
"Having people around me has made it a bit easier. I don't know what I would have done (without the soup kitchen lunch), I would have been very downcast in spirit," she said.
Ms Bell said bringing together the soup kitchen lunch was a community effort.
"On behalf of the soup kitchen I want to thank all the community members, and they know who they are, who have supported us today to be able to put this on," she said.