Rose Romita gearing up for her annual community dinner
Rose Romita gets a hand purchasing supplies on Sunday for her 18th Rosie's Annual Community Christmas Dinner from Wholesale Club employee Jonathon White. Using cash donations, Romita buys most of her supplies for her dinners from the Burton Avenue store, which also sells gift cards which area residents can donate to the cause. Call 705 722-7763 to find out how you can help. IAN MCINROY/BARRIE EXAMINER/QMI AGENCY
A tradition of caring and sharing will continue this yuletide season when local big-hearted caterer Rose Romita hosts the 18th edition of Rosie's Annual Community Christmas Dinner.
It will be held on Christmas Day from noon until 6 p.m. at Central United Church, 54 Ross St.
Everyone is welcome to attend, not just the financially challenged or homeless, she said.
"Nobody should go without at this time of year," Romita said on Sunday, while stocking up on supplies at the Wholesale Club store on Burton Avenue.
"People just don't want to be home alone that day. It's not easy to cook for one or two people and there are people who have no family," she said. "Sometimes people have lost a loved one so it's a difficult time of year for them. They come and have a good time instead of staying at home and watching television."
While the event is open to anyone, there are many individuals and families in Barrie who are struggling to get by. During her first Christmas dinner 18 years ago, about 50 meals were served. Last year she served 600.
"The need is definitely there. There's too much month left at the end of the money. What you see out there are people who struggle to keep a roof over their heads and are barely able to pay their hydro bills," she added.
This past Thanksgiving, Romita cooked about 50 turkeys and she's already in the thick of things preparing for the Dec. 25 event.
"At the Thanksgiving Day dinner, they just kept coming and coming. I expect it will be busier (at Christmas). I'll be looking at no less than 75 turkeys this Christmas. If there is food left over they can take it home," she said.
The community dinner isn't just about food; it's also about friendship and fun.
"There's entertainment. Anybody who wants to play is more than welcome and they don't have to professional or anything," she said. "As far as donations go, we prefer cash but we'll definitely take turkeys, desserts, water, pop or juice as well as vegetables and potatoes.
Romita has one problem she is happy to deal with: too many volunteers.
"My phone hasn't stopped ringing in the last month-and-a-half. I have groups of people who offer to help, including families and past customers. They are of all ages and from all walks of life."
Call her at 705 722-7763 to find out how they can help, or look for her on facebook.