Denny’s Oakville and the Salvation Army partnered up on Christmas Eve to spread the spirit of Christmas to the Salvation Army’s clients.
“[I] generally spend it with family and friends,” said Wayne Moore, one of 150 invited guests, when asked about how he usually spent Christmas Eve. “Tonight I got to spend it with friends who felt like family.”
“Tonight I got to spend [Christmas Eve] with friends who felt like family.” ~ Wayne Moore
Indeed, family played a big part in making the evening happen.
Dan Soma, who owns three Denny’s restaurants in Oakville, Mississauga and Whitby wanted to give back to the community. He felt fortunate to have dinner on his table at Christmas and thought of the people during the festive season who might not have as nice a dinner as him and his family.
His family and staff supported his idea.
“My children, we sat down at dinner and we talked about it and we came up with this idea,” said Soma. “The staff was very enthusiastic and all volunteered their time today.”
In all, there were 33 volunteers, 22 from Denny’s in Oakville and Mississauga, as well as 11 Salvation Army volunteers.
Rick Matthews was one Salvation Army volunteer, bringing an entourage that included his four children and his wife. The family wanted to do something at Christmas for people who did not have everything that the Matthews have been blessed with.
They chose the Salvation Army because they appreciated the work that the Salvation Army did in the community.
“The atmosphere was wonderful, people were very appreciative, thankful, polite,” said Matthews. “There was some nice Christmas spirit in the room. I think we all enjoyed the experience.”
Approximately 85 of the guests showed up to have a roast turkey dinner, with “all the fixings” donated by Denny’s. The evening also included door prizes. Santa also made and appearance and brought smiles to the guests.
“I had fun,” said 4-year-old Nya Grant. Adding that Santa was her favourite part of the evening.
Her mother, Melissa Davis, was also appreciative of the event.
“I think it’s great the fact how they helped other people in need and bring us all together and we have a good time,” said Davis. “I hope that I can contribute in the future some day.”
As guests were leaving, Soma said that this was going to be the first of many Christmas Eve dinners for the less fortunate. He plans to expand the event to Mississauga and Whitby next year. He hopes to eventually persuade the Denny’s chain to host the event country wide.