Serving up cheer for those in need

COMMUNITY SPIRIT: Chef Jonathon from Vincent St Kitchen and Bar will be serving up some tasty treats at the Samaritans Christmas Lunch including traditional baked ham and chocolate mousse for dessert. Photo: Supplied.
COMMUNITY SPIRIT: Chef Jonathon from Vincent St Kitchen and Bar will be serving up some tasty treats at the Samaritans Christmas Lunch including traditional baked ham and chocolate mousse for dessert. Photo: Supplied.

FOR the past 17 years, registered charity Samaritans has hosted a very special lunch for the homeless, lonely and less fortunate on Christmas Day.

This year will be no different with the event set to see people coming together from across Newcastle to celebrate the special day with their community.

This year's event will take place at the Newcastle Foreshore under the Railway Carriages with the event expected to attract as many as 1000 adults and more than 400 children.

Attendees can look forward to being served a delicious luncheon including ham off the bone, chicken, hot potato bake and freshly made salads, as well as chocolate mousse and Christmas pudding thanks to Chef Jonathon Heath from Vincent St Kitchen and Bar.

Food guru Jonathon, along with a team of helpers have been involved in the event for many years and is proud to lend a helping hand.

"Last year I wanted to go a little bit bigger and we ended up cooking lunch for 1300 homeless people in Newcastle," Jonathon said, adding he planned to continue the tradition for many years to come.

"Some people have nothing and they come with their families and kids to enjoy the day and it's amazing."

With sponsorship from several local businesses, Jonathon said the majority of fruit, vegetables, protein and dairy for the event is donated for him to whip into Christmas cheer.

"Coming from South Africa, I am surprised by the amount of homelessness and underprivileged people in our community."

Jonathon said that while his own children might yet be too young to understand the gift of giving, he often involves them in setting up for the lunch.

"I think it's really important to instil that sense of selflessness into your kids, even at a young age," he said, adding anyone interested were welcome to drop donations of cash or gift cards in to Vincent St before Christmas. Santa will make a visit at 2pm with every guest receiving a gift - to the delight of the children in attendance.

Organisers said the challenge with having so many attendees of all ages is finding appropriate gifts with organisers calling on community members to kindly donate gift cards of any value to enable guests to 'shop' for themselves, which can be a treat for many.

"Cessnock Leagues Club and Vincent St are collecting whatever people can afford, sort of like a wish tree, because there will be about 400-500 kids at the lunch." Organisers said Christmas is about sharing and caring and any support would be greatly appreciated.

For more information about donations, please call Vincent St Kitchen on (02) 4005 6766. For more information about the event, visit: www.samaritans.org.au.