The gift of a Christmas meal brings downtown residents together

Ottawa-20131225-00402
The turkey was so delicious, it’s all anyone talked about.

“And the trimmings, also. Like, we don’t get that anymore, eh?,” said Paul Doucet, smiling.

“I’ve got a full belly now.”

He was one of hundreds who streamed into an old Irish pub in the Byward Market to enjoy a homemade Christmas lunch.

“It’s a wonderful experience,” said Doucet, who was spending the day by himself.

He read about the meal in the newspaper, and “I just thought ‘this is great’ … if you’re alone and you have no place to go.”

Jim Wilson was beyond stuffed.

“If I eat like this every day, they would need a crane to get me out of here and get me home,” said Wilson.

An estimated 800 people were expected to visit in four hours, said Heart & Crown general manager Jeff Davis.

“Being able to help people that can’t afford this at home, it’s good to see everybody with a smile,” said Davis.

It’s been a Christmas tradition at this location for 21 years.

“People just talk about it, and it spreads,” said Davis.

Even within the Davis family, with dad, Bob Sr., manning the front door and seating patrons, to brother, Bob Jr., serving turkey by the platter.

“I’ve got mom over here, whipping up coffee,” said Davis.

Volunteer Andrew Robertson was keeping an eye out for familiar faces.

After 15 years, it can be sad, he said.

He’ll occasionally ask, “where’s so and so?,” only to find out that person has died since he last saw them.

“You get to know some of the regulars,” said Robertson.

A few people recognized him from last year, Robertson said, and came up to wish him happy holidays.

“I enjoy giving a little bit to the community, ’cause I’m not a millionaire,” Robertson quipped.

“So this is my little token, and I enjoy it.”

Terrie Meehan was happy she didn’t have to cook, “Because it’s getting harder to do,” she said.

She received another present earlier.

“My father can still speak. He’s got ALS, so that’s not going to happen for much longer,” said Meehan.

Pub patrons left with gift bags.

“Oh, I got socks. That’s what I wanted,” said a woman in a long black coat and matching hat.

“I’d love to have poverty and homelessness all go away. That would be a really cool Christmas gift,” said Meehan.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @kellyroche6

http://www.ottawasun.com/2013/12/25/the-gift-of-a-christmas-meal-brings-downtown-residents-together

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