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Union Gospel Mission prepares to serve over 3,500 Christmas meals

WHAT    Union Gospel Mission is preparing for its 71st Downtown Eastside community Christmas dinner on Saturday, December 10th.  The facility will be hoping with festive cheer as over 3,500 special holiday meals are expected to be served amidst live music, a cheery atmosphere and warm smiles.

NEW              1. This is UGM’s first Christmas in the new facility
2. Clearly Contacts is providing reading glasses to those in need (10am – 2:30pm)

WHEN            Saturday, December 10, 2011
Doors open at 10:00am, meals served at 10:30am to 4:00pm
If arriving prior to 9:30am, please contact Keela in advance, to facilitate access

WHERE         601 East Hastings, Vancouver (@ Princess Street)

3,200 lbs of turkey (equivalent of 170 turkeys)
1,500 lbs of mashed potatoes
900 lbs of vegetables
900 lbs of stuffing
265 litres of gravy
60 litres of cranberry sauce
4,000 dinner rolls
650 cherry pies
300 litres of ice cream
4,000 cups of hot coffee

•    The dining room: where all the festive eating and action takes place
•    The 616 Cordova facility: women & families dinner
•    Maurice McElrea Place: Clearly Contacts if doing sight consultations for reading glasses and giving glasses to those in need.
•    The shelter: a quiet interview location that illustrates what occurs each night.

•    Wednesday, December 7: stuffing is prepared, a lot of kitchen action
•    Thursday, December 8: students from Vancouver Culinary School will be at UGM (8:00am – 11:00am) to carve the turkeys

At UGM we have a saying: “hope starts with a meal.” Those are not just nice words; they are the essence of UGM’s emergency services. Many of the groups we deal with have experienced extreme trauma, broken trust, isolation and are in crisis. While they need consistency, practical help and emotional support—things all offered by UGM—these groups need time and space to build trust and to believe in themselves in order to accept help from anyone. Meals are non-intrusive ways to build those critical relationships. It’s a simple start, but it’s a doorway to transformation.

RELATED NEWS: Softening economic trend affects UGM donations
Donations were down this fall at UGM. The number of donations remained consistent but the amount was smaller, indicative of giving trends in a slower economy. November, however, has been more promising. Since opening the new facility in April, UGM has doubled its shelter capacity, doubled the number of men in recovery and at year end will have served an extra 100,000 meals a year end (up from 250,000 the previous year).

On Tuesday, December 20th, Glowbal Restaurant Group will be back to partner with UGM to serve their third annual “Table for 2000” event providing an exquisite  meal for those in need. Princess Avenue is transformed into a tented, heated Christmas block party, while Glowbal shuts down their own restaurants to provide the cooks and servers to make this amazing event possible at UGM.
All media are asked to come through the main reception doors (601 East Hastings) to sign-in.  They will be given a special tag to grant them building access in conjunction with a UGM escort.

To ease any discomfort for our camera-shy guests, we endeavor to have a subtle media presence. We may choose to stagger media entry into certain areas, in order to not disrupt our guests. Coordinating with us in advance will help us to better accommodate requests.

Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing the lives of men, women, and children for over 70 years. Through its 9 locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides counseling, education, safe housing, and alcohol and drug recovery to those struggling with poverty, homelessness, and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild the lives of the broken, and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. To find out more, visit


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