Buddhist charity serves up full Christmas dinner for Strathcona tent city residents
VANCOUVER -- Volunteers with the Lotus Light Charity Society were up before dawn on Christmas morning to start preparing a meal for people living in tents in Strathcona Park.
They made roast turkey and ham, mashed potatoes, gravy and many of the other traditional holiday fixings.
“We have prepared a special meal for those people in need in our Downtown East Side community. We’ve prepared 300 meals,” said Sean Ouyang, one of the volunteers.
The society has been using the kitchen at an East Hastings Street temple to feed people in need regularly since the start of the pandemic, but this is the first time they’ve attempted a Christmas dinner, much to the delight of people in the park.
“They’ve gone above and beyond this Christmas to come down here and feed everybody. It’s great,” said Brent Corkum, a Strathcona Park resident. “It’s a blessing. It makes it a true Christmas.”
Feeling alone and isolated during this pandemic holiday, some people living in the park told CTV News the simple act of sharing a Christmas meal reminds them of happier times.
“There’s no guarantee today that I thought I’d be getting turkey dinner and that brings back memories of good times,” said Christian Weiss, who lives in the park. “It’s awesome. I really, really appreciate that these people could do this.”
For people in the park, who often feel marginalized, forgotten and unwanted by the broader community, the kindness of the Lotus Light Charity Society volunteers felt very special.
“They couldn’t have done something better to bring light to such a dark time for some of us,” said Weiss.
So this year, a Buddhist Christmas dinner offered a true reflection of the spirit of the season.