Principal Brittany Wallace, Chef Michael and another staff member standing in front of the gym wall furnished with Christmas decorations. Patrick Penner / Abbotsford News.

Principal Brittany Wallace, Chef Michael and another staff member standing in front of the gym wall furnished with Christmas decorations. Patrick Penner / Abbotsford News.

13 years running – how one Abbotsford school builds community with annual Christmas lunch

Pro-chef cooks, everyone eats, carols and stories shared, Santa visits the classroom

For the last 13 years, Alexander Elementary has been hosting a Christmas lunch for anyone and everyone with a connection to the school.

This year, on Dec. 13, over 300 students, teachers, volunteers, parents, police officers, ex-teachers and students showed up to take part in the Christmas festivities. Santa Claus also made an appearance.

All the food is donated by individuals and businesses in the community and cooked up by culinary chef Michael Dicks of Culinary Touch Catering. After the meal, everyone sings a carol in the gym and principal Brittney Wallace reads a Christmas story, before students go back to their classrooms to await a visit from the big man in red.

Chef Michael Dicks after the service. Patrick Penner / Abbotsford News.

“I’m very satisfied doing it. I mean, to pass on a couple thousand dollar event is not even a second thought, you know?” Dicks said. “We’ve been blessed with our success … You have to give back.”

Wallace said people who haven’t worked at the school in five years still find time to come back to help make it happen.

“There’s a lot of preparation that the staff does before the date and a lot of work leading up to it,” she said.

What started as a community-building event 13 years ago has turned into a lasting tradition for those involved, said ex-principal Jim Van Meer. Van Meer, who was principal during its inaugural year, chuckles when he thinks back to that first attempt.

“Our first plan was we were going to do the cooking ourselves… not a good idea,” he said. “There were five of us that were brand new to the school and we were ready to do something different; ready to do something for the kids.”

Dicks has been preparing Christmas lunch for the event for the last nine years after taking the reins from the Salvation Army, who had to bow out due to a lack of resources.

“When [the Salvation Army] said there’s a school full of kids that look forward to a Christmas meal, it fit right into what our beliefs and values are. This is what we do; we have the skills to do it,” Dicks said.

“So for me to take a couple hours of my day [it’s nothing,] and the rewards are pretty cool.”

Dicks says he receives artwork, pictures and drawings from the young students.

“My favourite thing was [a drawing that said], ‘I like your hat!’” Dicks said. “We post those pictures up at our shop for awhile for everybody to see.”

Principal Brittany Wallace helping pour gravy over a student’s meal. Patrick Penner / Abbotsford News.

And this year, Culinary Touch Catering broke a record for the time it takes the team to serve the Christmas meal: seven minutes and six seconds.

“We went in and said, ‘Let’s see if we can beat this!’” Dicks said.

“A lot of the volunteers are back every year and they know they game – you know, who can do it quicker, what side wins, a little bit of bantering going on, which makes it fun.”

Just Posted

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

Emergency services were on the scene of an apparent stabbing Friday afternoon (June 11) in the 2400 block of Countess Street in Abbotsford. (Photo: Kaytlin Harrison)
Two suspects arrested after apparent stabbing in Abbotsford

Incident occurs Friday afternoon in 2400 block of Countess Street

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month in Canada. (ADOBE STOCK IMAGE)
Shining a light on brain injury in Canada

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read