‘Tis the season of giving: The volunteer-led Geraldton Christmas lunch that welcomes everyone

Michael RobertsGeraldton Guardian
Centacare Geraldton's Anne Smith, David Power, Anne Dixon and Perlin Simon are busy preparing for this year's Christmas lunch.
Camera IconCentacare Geraldton's Anne Smith, David Power, Anne Dixon and Perlin Simon are busy preparing for this year's Christmas lunch. Credit: Michael Roberts/Geraldton Guardian

Not having a reason to celebrate Christmas is a foreign concept to most Australians.

But it’s the reality for many who don’t have friends or family around to raise a glass with over the holiday season.

That’s where an annual free Christmas lunch in Geraldton steps in to welcome anyone who is feeling a bit lonely during the festive period.

Centacare Family Services hosted their first Christmas luncheon in 2001, run by a small band of volunteers who served just over 30 guests.

That number has grown to more than 150 people each year, with about 50 volunteers setting up a festive space inside The Catholic Centre on the corner of Maitland Street and Cathedral Avenue.

“It brings out these people who don’t celebrate Christmas or don’t have a reason to celebrate it,” Centacare executive administration manager Anne Smith said.

“There was this fellow who came in a few years ago and it was the first Christmas he had celebrated since 1948.

“People can sometimes get lost.”

Supported by donations from local businesses and individuals, the luncheon offered people a safe space, Ms Smith said.

“It’s a whole big family,” she said.

“On the day it takes on a lift of its own.”

Centacare director Perlin Simon said the volunteers who get involved feel like they’ve contributed to something special.

“There is a certain special joy for all attending the event,” she said.

“It keeps the Christmas spirit alive in our community.”

To reserve a place for the Christmas luncheon, call Centacare on 9921 1433.

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