Nobody should spend Christmas morning alone.
That’s why Agassiz Centre for Education (ACE) students and community volunteers are gearing up for another Christmas morning at the Legion.
Seven years ago ACE administrator Sandy Balascak approached her students with the idea to put on a Christmas morning breakfast and gift-giving for seniors from Agassiz and Harrison.
“It occurred to me that there’s all these seniors and they’ve spent their lives building great Christmases for their families, and sometimes their families are too far away or don’t come to see them [now],” she says. “And I thought, the community always does great things in advance, but no body does anything on Christmas Day.
“Christmas morning is generally the hardest time to be alone,” she adds. “Especially [for] those who have had families and big Christmas mornings.”
ACE students loved the idea. Even students who have family obligations and can’t come for Christmas morning donate their time preparing for the event.
While the first year was mostly put on by the students, the event has become increasingly popular for community members who want to volunteer on Christmas Day.
Lesley Ward has helped to cook breakfast almost every Christmas since ACE started the program.
“It fills my heart with Christmas spirit,” she says. “Seeing the faces of the people who are sitting around [that] don’t have any other place to go…. This is what I do to help spread the Christmas spirit…helping other people and watching them enjoy themselves just like little kids.”
Balascak estimates about 60 seniors come in for breakfast on Christmas morning. Each receive a gift donated by a local business and enjoy ‘egg in the holes,’ scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage and pancakes made from ingredients donated by the local A&W.
“Until you actually experience [the breakfast], it’s hard to describe,” Balascak says. “If you ever really want to feel the true meaning of Christmas, come into that room because it’s there.”
Ward agrees. “It takes away that loneliness for a handful of people,” she says. “But when you have a handful of people and make their lives better, it’s like a snowball; it just keeps getting bigger. People just are happier, and we need that in a society where people are so sad and lonely and angry.”
“We need joy and peace and love and kindness. That’s why I do it,” she adds.
Tickets are free but are required for seniors planning to attend the breakfast. They can be picked up at the Legion, the Agassiz Library or ACE.