For Salvation Army team Major Craig Farrell and his wife Captain Ellen Farrell, one of the busiest weekends of the year is almost upon them.
On Sunday, following its Carols in the Car Park service, around 300 diners will pack their Delacombe church for a traditional Christmas dinner - put on for free in traditional festive spirit.
It is the first time the couple will undertake the organisation of the well known community event, having transferred to the Delacombe Corps earlier year.
Every inch of floor space will be used for the meal tables. This is a very big event for usSalvation Army Major Craig Farrell
However, they are under no illusions about the scale of the task ahead.
"Every inch of floor space will be used for the meal tables," Major Farrell said. "This is a very big event for us."
He said that he already had a keen sense of how important the event is for the community, allowing the church to forge links with people who may later be in need.
A team of around 10 volunteers - including help from other Salvation Army branches in the city - will be needed to cater to the hundreds of people who turn up on the day.
While the branch has monthly dinners, they are only around a third of the size.
Captain Farrell said that there would be a lot of people there who come to the branch throughout the year, but the dinner would involve an even wider crowd from the general community.
The Farrells, who met at a Salvation Army conference in London four years ago, say that the idea of the event was to provide a safe space for people, and to have a "fun, enjoyable luncheon."
Christmas is all about giving a sense of belonging. If we can provide a place for that to happen, then great.Major Craig Farrell
"Christmas is all about giving a sense of belonging," Major Farrell said. "If we can provide a place for that to happen, then great."
As for the next few days, the preparations are well under way with volunteers on both Saturday and Sunday expected to be working at a cracking pace.
"It's all hands on deck," Mr Farrell said. "On Monday we will be able to rest."
- The Salvation Army in Delacombe, corner Greenhalghs Road and Warrina Drive, Delacombe, will host its free Christmas dinner and carols event at 10am on December 8.
- The Ballarat East Salvation Army branch on Eureka Street will also hold a free carol service on December 15, from 10am. Both locations will also be holding services on Christmas Day/
- Toy donations can also be made in person at any Woolworths check out, Westpac branch or at Salvo Stores throughout the city.
See the full list of Salvation Army events here.
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