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Santa, I’ve been a good boy this year.

This year’s Christmas no doubt has to be one of the most memorable ones I’ve had for a long time. As you may already know, I’ve hosted a Christmas Lunch for the local community at Coast Shelter last Friday and it went exceptionally well, thanks to a great team of people who helped out to make this meaningful event a successful one.

Thanks to Daniel Grey for volunteering to capture the event and created a beautiful montage video of the day.

It all started when a group of bloggers were approached by Nuffnang to write an advertorial post for their client, ING Direct. The brief was to spend the budget given to celebrate Christmas by using their product. Instead of splurging on shopping, I thought what a great opportunity would be to actually spend the small budget they offered to create a meaningful event to give back to the community by hosting a Christmas lunch for the homeless. Sadly, not everything was going as planned.

To write this advertorial post, the bloggers had to apply for the ING product like any consumer, I had to fill out an online application form, took my IDs to post office to have it approved and faxed to them. I applied it on 10th December, giving them enough time to process my application, hoping the product will arrive at my doorstep just in time for me to do the shopping for the event on the 19th. A week past, I received nothing. Only then realised my account hadn’t even been opened, which means there is no way I would received the funding on time for the event. I buried myself in embarrassment, I had to call Coast Shelter to postpone the event from 19th to 21st December.

Sadly postponement didn’t make the application process at ING any faster. After many frustrating emails with empty promises, and not to mention there was still no funding arrived two days before the event; I finally decided to terminate the contract and pulled myself out from doing the advertorial post, cut myself away from all the hassles and dramas.

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I had no more time to spare and the show must go on, I eventually hosted the Christmas lunch with funding from my own pocket. I am not rich, but self funding the event was possibly the best decision I’ve ever made after all the hoo haa with nuffnang and ING. I was able to buy most of the food to feed 120 homeless, plus with the help from Terrigal Bakery and QiQ who happily donated some food for the lunch.

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For our Christmas lunch, I was very lucky to have four ladies helping me out in the kitchen to come up with a great simple yet delicious menu. Nothing fancy, just simple, home cooked food.

There is no Christmas without leg ham, I decided to glaze one leg ham with a simply apricot and wholegrain mustard dressing, while another one simply sliced and served cold. Before planning the menu, I’ve been informed that they prefer the food to be on the soft side, as some of the homeless are unable to chew without teeth, hence soft boiled peas and steamed carrots it is.

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Baked potatoes apparently is a favourite here at Coast Shelter, and we made two trays of them.

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With time constrains, we simply can’t roast any turkeys or chickens, instead we grilled the chicken breasts and made a wholesome chicken caesar salad.

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The food at Coast Shelter are prepared by local volunteers, they provide lunch and dinner for 120 local community daily. Food are usually donated from the local supermarkets and bakeries, while most homeless will come in for a meal, but some of the food will also be delivered to the refuges around Central Coast. The food isn’t fancy, but they are extremely grateful just to have food on their plates.

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Something soft, and something sweet; then you simply can’t go wrong with trifle.

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I also bought a whole lot of fruit as refreshment after meal.

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It was such a humbling experience. By all means what we served was no fancy food, but occasionally a few guys would came up to me, shook my hands and thanked me for the most delicious meal they’ve ever tasted. I was so touched by their gestures and their stories, it was truly an incredible experience. From the picture above, you could tell we had a great time cooking and serving the Christmas lunch for the homeless. It was my first time and definitely not the last, I’ve promised myself to get involved with Coast Shelter in the new year and spending more time in their kitchen to prepare food for the local community.

For those who have donated to Coast Shelter to support our Christmas lunch, I sincerely thank you for your generosity and kindness. I hope there will be more support from everyone so that this not-for-profit organisation runs by volunteers can keep on going to serve meals to the local community daily. Keep up with the Christmas spirit and put some food on someone’s plate this Christmas.

Last but not least, wishing you all a wonderful and joyous Christmas. Eat well, and lots of it!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

– Billy