Former organizer and volunteers working to fill gap after no one steps up to organize Community Christmas Dinner

Isabelle Impey poses for a photo at the 2022 Community Christmas Dinner at St. Mary High School. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

There won’t be a sit-down Community Christmas Dinner in Prince Albert this year, but former organizer Isabelle Impey and dinner volunteers are working to make sure something fills the gap.

Impey stepped down last year after 20 years of organizing community dinners, 19 of which were in Prince Albert. However, when no one stepped up to organize the event this year, Impey and some volunteers began last-minute preparations to provide free Christmas dinners for delivery on Dec. 25.

“It’s really unfortunate because people had been counting on continuing what we’ve been doing,” Impey said during a phone interview on Wednesday. “I did it for 20 years, and I’m getting to the age where I don’t need to be doing that when there’s lots of young people—much younger people—around.”

The 2022 Christmas Dinner was held at St. Mary High School. Attendees were invited indoors for a sit-down meal with prizes and toys for kids.

When she organized the dinners, Impey would begin preparations in the fall. She said they don’t have enough time to organize a regular sit-down meal, but they still wanted to do something.

“Our volunteers from last year and the years before have all called and said, ‘hey, I’m available. Call me and I’ll come and help.’ That’s been wonderful, and we continue to really appreciate these good people who want to participate,” Impey said. “We’re really lucky in PA. People still want to share in the spirit of Christmas. They know it’s a difficult time for many families, and they’re doing it because they care.”

Impey said they’re attempting to organize a delivery service. Organizations that work with homeless or low-income residents can text Impey with the number of meals they need, and volunteers will deliver to their door.

A volunteer dishes up a helping of mashed potatoes during the Prince Albert Community Christmas Dinner at St. Mary High School on Dec. 25, 2022. — Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Impey said the biggest hurdle right now is financial. She’s been trying to raise at least $700 to make the event happen. That will be enough to provide the basics, like Christmas turkey. If they raise more money, Impey said, they can add other luxuries like dessert.

They also need someone to purchase or donate food containers, forks, knives, and spoons.

“I’m still scrounging for money to buy some stuff,” Impey said. “I talked to some people this morning (Wednesday) and we’ve had some of our faithful come in as well (and) give a financial donation. It looks close, but we’re not there yet.”

Impey said they’re also hoping to create and distribute more than 100 food hampers. She said the PAGC and other organizations have done a great job with their food hamper programs, but she’s worried a few families fell through the cracks.

“I don’t want to miss those people who will otherwise go without food,” she said.

Impey said she was disappointed no one stepped up to organize the Community Christmas Dinner this year. The role requires a lot of work and preparation, she explained, but the infrastructure is already in place. It just needs someone willing to take charge.

“I know the volunteers are there and they’re willing and they’re ready to go, but someone had to coordinate it,” she said. “It takes a lot of work. I know that, and a lot of people don’t have the time.

“I always started (preparations) earlier in the fall, so I didn’t leave it until this late, but in the meantime, I can’t sit down and have a Christmas meal knowing that a lot of people are going without, so we’re going to try and do the best we can this year.”

Organizations that work with homeless or low-income residents can text Impey at 306-980-7794 to let her how many meals they need and where to deliver. Anyone looking to donate can also call or text Impey at that number.