CTV video of our To Stratford With Love, 2017 dinner.
It’s been over a month since the questions started filtering in.
When will tickets be available for the annual To Stratford with Love banquet?
“They start asking us for them like the beginning of October,” said The Local Community Food Centre executive director Debra Swan. “They’re really looking forward to it.”
The wait is finally over as the ticket window opened Monday. In addition to The Local, they’re available at city hall, Madelyn's Diner, Stratford House of Blessing and the Salvation Army. There is no cost or vetting process for the Christmas dinner provided by Simple Dreams.
“It doesn’t matter what your financial status is, we have people coming just because they’re by themselves, they don’t have family here,” said Ruth Kneider, who co-founded the local charity with husband Richard. “We encourage people to come just to sit and mingle.”
The event, Dec. 14 at the Stratford Rotary Complex, begins at 5:30 p.m. This is year 31 for To Stratford with Love.
“We started off with about 250 people and now we’re at a thousand,” Richard said. “I don’t know if we can go any bigger at this particular point, only because the Rotary complex, that’s maxed out for tables and chairs.”
The food list is rather staggering: 700 pounds of beef, 180 pounds of vegetables, 125 pounds of coleslaw, 850 potatoes, 1,200 dinner rolls, 80 litres of gravy, and at least 175 pies, although that final number may grow larger.
“We never say no to pie,” Richard said.
Most of the food is donated by local residents and businesses, while Simple Dreams also purchases some of it.
“We would not be able to do this without the support of the community,” Richard said.
The event is usually hosted with the help of about 200 volunteers. Generally when someone offers to pitch in they return the next year.
“Some get offended that they don’t get back on the list,” Ruth said, drawing a chuckle from Richard.
In addition to servers – they’ve already recruited about half of the goal of 130 – there are various jobs to fill.
“Lots of room still for volunteers,” Ruth said.
Volunteers can sign up through Simple Dreams’ Facebook page, by e-mail at email@example.com, or by calling their daughter, Katey, at 519-275-1240.
The dinner will also feature entertainment by The Upside of Maybe.
Meanwhile, Simple Dreams was the recipient of the approximately 600 stuffed animals thrown on the ice during the Stratford Warriors’ Teddy Bear Toss game on Nov. 3. Some will be delivered to the Stratford General Hospital’s special care nursery, with the remaining given to families attending the dinner.
“If people want one we’ll get them for them,” Ruth said.
The 31st annual To Stratford with Love Dinner is set for December 14th, 2019. Let us know if you have any questions and make sure to mark the dates on your calendar! If you'd like to volunteer please contact Katey at firstname.lastname@example.org