Volunteers share Christmas spirit

STEPHEN Burns is only 12 but doesn’t mind giving up his Christmas Day to help others.

Stephen spent most of yesterday serving meals, handing out name tags and helping people to their tables at the 22nd annual Our Lady Help of Christians Christmas Day lunch.

“I just like to see the smiles on their faces,” Stephen said.

His friend Vincent Long, who hails from Vietnam and is doing a student placement in the OLHC parish, was also experiencing his first Ballarat Christmas by helping at the lunch.

“It’s a great time,” Vincent said.

“It’s good to see people come together to communicate.”

Co-organisers Sandra and Vin Dillon said between 100 and 110 people had gathered to enjoy the annual lunch at the OLHC Mercy Performing Arts Centre.

“We just really enjoy doing it,” Mrs Dillon said.

Mr Dillon said it gave great joy to the parish to have people spend Christmas Day lunch with them.

“Some of you are like old friends now,” Mr Dillon told the crowd.

Elly Green of the Wendouree West Exodus Community said they had brought two busloads to the meal, which they had been attending for the past nine years.

“We work with the marginalised and organise outings to help them get into the Christmas spirit,” Mrs Green said.

“We’ve got people who are in wheelchairs, who are blind, who are deaf or who are all on their own.

“We’ve even brought a Sudanese family who call us their family now.”

Bev Milne enjoyed the lunch for the second year after her husband’s death in 2010.

“I came last year and I was absolutely ecstatic with the food and how friendly everyone was,” Mrs Milne said.

“The ladies all said we’ll meet again next year and here we are. It’s absolutely wonderful.”