Pandemic won’t stop Tommy’s Annual Community Christmas Dinner

Photo: Tommy’s

Tommy Hunter is looking for support to make his annual Community Christmas Dinner and Hamper Drive happen again this year.

This is the seventh year of Tommy’s Christmas dinner campaign, which started as a dine-in Christmas Eve meal service for Kingston’s needy at his downtown restaurant.

Hunter has partnered with Autohouse Kingston to run this year’s campaign, which now includes take-out dinners and family meal kits, delivered to homes in hampers a few days early.

Each hamper includes:

  • one turkey (approximately 15 pounds)
  • 10 pounds of potatoes
  • a box of stuffing
  • a pack of dinner rolls
  • fresh vegetables
  • a can of cranberries
  • a package of gravy mix
  • a frozen pie

A donation of $50 covers an entire hamper, Hunter said.

“Even with the sponsorships from local businesses we’ve gotten, we’re still quite short on our fundraising goals to ensure everyone gets a Christmas dinner,” Hunter said.

Last year, the campaign provided Christmas dinner to over 1,200 people in Kingston. With the need for meal programs and food support surging in the Kingston area, Hunter said he expects increased demand for the Christmas dinners this year.

Demand for food support up in Kingston

Hunter is not one to let circumstances get in the way of plans. In 2018, the Community Christmas Dinner proceeded despite him having closed his restaurant for months of repairs, after flooding during a city construction project.

Despite the pandemic Hunter said he is planning to serve dine-in dinner, observing all the mandated Public Health requirements and protocols that are already in play at his two restaurants.

“If we’re not able to serve dine-in, we’ll still do delivery and takeout either way,” he said.

“We’ve managed to raise $6000 so far by selling sponsorships for the first time ever. But we’re estimating that we’ll need [twice that], assuming the number of hamper requests will be up some from last year.”

According to Bhavana Varma, President and CEO of the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington (KFLA), demand on local food programs has dramatically increased since the start of the pandemic.

“In the region we’ve gone from 500, 600 meals a week to 1,400 to 1,800 meals per day, seven days a week,” Varma told City Council at a delegation on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

Donations or orders for Tommy’s Annual Community Christmas, Presented by Autohouse Kingtons, can be made here. Because of pandemic and storage restrictions, only monetary donations can be accepted this year.

Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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