A longtime Christmas tradition will not be going ahead this year.
The Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau decided at a meeting last night that the annual community Christmas dinner will be cancelled this year.
The Volunteer Bureau's Judy Koski said the decision was not made lightly.
“Unfortunately, the Christmas dinner this year is cancelled,” she confirmed this morning.
"Nobody stepped up to man the kitchen. It has happened in other years, so maybe this is sort of a heads-up for next year for someone, that they could consider serving next year.
“The board of directors of the Volunteer Bureau feel badly that we have to do this, but it's inevitable; we can't do it without someone in the kitchen,” she lamented.
Koski noted that the people who had volunteered their time to the dinner last year as chefs were unable to return this year, and the search for a replacement to take on the commitment was ultimately unsuccessful. The board was unable to find another solution to the problem, which led to the decision to cancel the dinner.
Koski said that both she and the other members of the board are disappointed about the decision they had to make as it will impact the people who needed the dinner most during the holiday season.
“I feel badly for the shut-ins that rely on this dinner,” she explained.
"My heart breaks for them. Maybe in the meantime some other group may provide a meal for them on Christmas day? I don't know.
“There's definitely people who go to that dinner who could certainly make their own, but as I say it's the shut-ins, the people who can't get out, our hearts are breaking for them,” added Koski.
Even if someone were to change their mind or decide to help make the dinner, Koski said it's just too late in the season for the amount of planning that goes into the dinner to make it successful.
“There's a lot of preparation,” she said.
"One of the things we need to do is sit down and figure out how much food we need based on last year. Now, a lot of the food that we gather is from 'Stuff-a-Cruiser,' which is next Saturday, so we'd need somebody so quickly.
“And we also have to apply for a permit from the Health Unit, which takes some time as well. There are just things ahead of time that need to be done. We need, of course, a million volunteers. It's just too late.”
As Koski mentioned, the dinner has been cancelled in previous years, and while the board might look at getting the word out earlier next year to increase their chances of finding a cook, she said there are no easy answers at this time.
One thing she is hoping for is that the cancellation this year will spur on someone to help out next year.
“It's just maybe bad timing for a lot of people,” Koski said.
"But certainly next year, maybe because of the fact that it had to be cancelled this year, maybe people will sort of think, 'Well, maybe next year I could do that.' We'll see. Like I say, we feel badly about this but it's out of our hands.
“If we don't get the people to step forward, there's nothing we can do,” Koski continued.
“You can't force people. And it has to be a special person who takes this on, someone certainly who knows about cooking for groups and how to prepare ahead of time. It's unfortunate, but it is what it is.”