Another amazing Christmas Eve Feast, our eleventh and biggest. The room was packed with smiling people, enjoying the wonderful feast and the live music. Santa visited with the children and everyone was clearly in a festive mood.
Our elves were giving gifts as people left and the faces of the happy children are the memories we carry away from this even.
We thank our many wonderful volunteers and the generous sponsors and donors that allow us to put on this Christmas Eve Feast each year -- it is truly appreciated.
Pictures from the day and updated sponsor lists will be posted shortly.
Ten Years of Giving!
On Thursday, December 24th, 2015, Sons of Italy held the tenth annual Christmas Eve Feast for approximately 550 people from Winnipeg's West End.
Working in conjunction with our partners X-Cues Billiards and Café, Sorrento’s on Ellice and the West End BIZ, the Feast was our biggest ever! The dinner featured both traditional and Italian favorites and was served at X- Cues, 551 Sargent Avenue. Food was served from 11:30 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus were there to add to the festivities.
The dinner is a small way to help those in the community who may find this time of year difficult by providing a hot meal, entertainment and company to share it with. Some experienced their first Christmas in Canada and for others it provided their only holiday meal. Along with the plentiful feast provided, everyone left with a gift bag full of treats.
This heartwarming event beautifully demonstrates the spirit of Christmas in the vibrant West End of Winnipeg. Sal Infantino, owner of X-Cues says: “Seeing the appreciation and joy on everyone’s face is the best gift. I can’t imagine doing anything else on Christmas Eve”.
an increasing immigrant community in attendance
Event co-chairs Reno Augellone and John Giavedoni from Sons of Italy, say “Christmas is a special time of giving for Italians and we appreciate being able to help the multicultural people in this community.”
As Winnipeg comes together to help support a growing immigrant community, we continue to see our dinner being attended by people new to our city who have arrived from all over the world. We offer to them a festive and hearty meal among new friends.
We are again amazed at the outpouring of generosity by many local businesses that have stepped forward to make this Christmas Eve Feast an annual tradition, and would like to thank and acknowledge the long list of donors -- they make this wonderful event possible -- thank you very much!
Finally, we want to thank the many volunteers that are not only on-site the day of the event (see pic above), but those that help with advance set-up, shopping and deliveries - there hard work and dedication at a busy time of year is appreciated beyond what words can express.
The full list of our amazing donors is posted to the right. This is a long list of generous people and organizations who when approached for help simply say "yes."
Christmas Eve Feast, year 10, in the media
In addition to the Global TV news coverage (see above), the event was also featured on CTV Morning Live from 6 am to 9 am on Christmas Eve. Daria Zmiyiwskyy, published a two page Out n About column in the Winnipeg Sun, titled "Sons of Italy create Christmas Magic."
We were also highlighted in the Winnipeg Free Press on the Social Page:
Giving Beyond Christmas Eve
With the help of our major sponsors, X-Cues Cafe and Billiards, Sorrento's restaurant on Ellice and West End BIZ, as well as dozens of donors and over 50 volunteers, the Christmas Eve Feast puts smiles on the faces of many families from the West End.
In some past years, our donors have been so generous, we have had surplus funds. As funds donated are targeted to children in the West End, surplus funds are donated to the Children's Hospital, just a few blocks away from our venue at X-Cues.
In the past, we have supported the Children's Hospital by donating:
a dishwasher for their play room - to wash toys between use,
MacBook laptop - for their music program,
a flat screen TV - for a waiting room,
an iPad - for use by children who cannot leave their room.
In 2012, we again approached Reneé Ethans, Manager, Child Life Dept. at the Children's Hospital to understand their needs and received an 8 page list of toys that the children like, that are safe and work well in the hospital environment.
Never to shy away from a challenge, we took the list to Value Lots in the West End; it's manager Jamie Bacon, a big supporter of the Christmas Eve Feast. By giving us at or near cost pricing, we were able to purchase toys valued well over $1,000. We filled a pickup truck with the boxes, and ho-ho-ho, we delivered the toys in time for Easter.
Reneé Ethans was speechless when she saw all the boxes, saying that "this donation will have our kids smiling for months to come." Onri, a Therapeutic Clown was all smiles -- or was that his face paint?
Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner, Executive Director of the West End BIZ, said that it is wonderful how the community has joined with Sons of Italy to make this donation possible.
Co-chair Reno Augellone said that despite the work involved in putting on the feast, "it is all about the children." John Giavedoni added that it was wonderful to know that "the event does not end on Christmas Eve, it's impact carries on throughout the year."