Kinship for Christmas, the Blue Mountains organisation that provides a free Christmas lunch and celebration for hundreds of guests, is gearing up for a double celebration with lunches in both Blackheath and Blaxland.
Now in its 19th year, the goal of the celebration is to provide a place where people can spend Christmas Day, providing guests with both good food and good company.
There are many people who for a variety of reasons are on their own on Christmas day, so we give them a place to come, to socialise or just to share some Christmas spirit,” said Kinship’s Mark Ptolemy.
The lunches are not religious and seek to provide people of all faiths and walks of life a safe and happy space to spend Christmas Day.
“Kinship was started due to a need that many people spend Christmas alone and or in financial distress. The lunches aren’t for ‘poor’ people – just people, no matter what their background, financial status, or any other factor. It’s open to all, no strings attached. The whole lunch is about people just being people; no religion or politics or status,” said Mr Ptolemy.
In addition to the free lunches, the Kinship At Christmas team also visit local nursing homes and give all the residents a small gift and some Christmas cheer.
The lunch at Blackheath usually attracts up to 300 guests. Last year due to high demand the organisation started an event in the Lower Mountains, working with the Lower Mountains Neighbourhood Centre at Blaxland. About 100 people attended the day.
“We have people that have been coming along from the beginning. We had a couple who met one Christmas at one of our lunches and ending up getting married. I see many people one day a year but I’ve known them for years and consider them friends,” said Mr Ptolemy.
The event shows the real community spirit of the Blue Mountains, with local businesses helping out with the food for the day. More than 100 Kinship volunteers, many of whom donate their time year after year, often also provide food and gifts.
Long-time volunteer Nyla Thomas, who owns TCP Day Tours in Lawson, does a morning Christmas run in her bus picking up people from their front doors from the Lower Mountains right up to Mt Victoria. In the afternoon she returns everyone home.
“I love helping out Kinship At Christmas. I usually tell people that I love getting their honest ‘thank you’. You know they really mean it,” she said.
The Kinship at Christmas free lunches are held at the Lower Mountains Community Centre at Blaxland and the Blackheath Neighbourhood Centre. Doors open at 10:30am on Christmas Day.
More information about Kinship At Christmas can be found at www.kinshipatchristmas.com.au or by calling 0414 993 873.