by Leigh Marcus

My daughter Alicia and I arrive at our lunch venue at 8.00 o’clock on Christmas morning.

Together with chefs Jim and Kerry, we set about food preparation. With things under control, at 11.00 am I grab some lunch flyers, and Alicia and I walk down the main street, just to see who is about.

Our lunch provides more than food … It provides listening ears for the lonely, builds connections into our community, and focuses attention away from us and squarely on the needs of others.

In a small side arcade I see a lady about 80 years of age, sitting alone on her gopher. We stop and chat. She says she’s been there awhile and intends staying through the lunch period. We tell her about our lunch and invite her to come down. We move on, but 20 minutes later we find her waiting at the venue for us.

Throughout the lunch, every time I see her she has a smile on her face. She stays until the 2.30 pm finish. At the end of the lunch everyone leaves with a present, some homemade biscuits, a full stomach and a warm heart. As my new friend is about to leave, she thanks our whole team and gives a donation. In the wire basket of her gopher, her day’s goodies are happily displayed. She quietly lifts a tea towel and shows me the two-day-old sausage roll previously intended for her Christmas lunch.

That is why we do what we do.

The idea was born as I watched the Christmas evening television news with my dad. I was then ten years old, and the Christmas news included (as it still does) a story of a Christmas Day lunch, shared by many people. Homeless, lonely, poor—who knows? Just people in need of a meal and companionship.

Go forward many years to 2009, and it was on my heart to carry out in Mount Gambier what I had seen on the news those many Christmases before.

We started from scratch. Would a lunch even work on Christmas Day? Would people be prepared to work and help? I estimated we would need about $2500 to cover all costs. Would I receive any cash donations? After much prayer we soon had more than enough helpers, enough cash and plenty of moral

Subscribe here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full