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Hundreds enjoy Christmas dinner at inner-city mission

Gordon Kent will be spending Christmas alone this year, but he'll be keeping himself company with a palette and paint brush.

"I like to keep to myself, I'll just paint this Christmas," he said, waiting for dessert at Siloam Missions's Christmas meal Monday afternoon.

Gordon Kent waits his turn for Siloam Mission's annual Christmas lunch.

Gordon Kent waits his turn for Siloam Mission's annual Christmas lunch.

Summer and Nicole Bruyere are served by CBC Hockey Night in Canada's Scott Oake at the Siloam Mission Monday. The two were at the dinner with their father.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Summer and Nicole Bruyere are served by CBC Hockey Night in Canada's Scott Oake at the Siloam Mission Monday. The two were at the dinner with their father. Photo Store

Allan Land, 55, looks at new socks he received at the Siloam Mission Christmas lunch.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Allan Land, 55, looks at new socks he received at the Siloam Mission Christmas lunch. Photo Store

Kent,  one of more than 300 people who lined up who attended the annual meal in downtown Winnipeg, said he discovered his love for painting a few years ago at Siloam, a non-profit organization that offers programs to help Winnipeg's less fortunate.

"I'm an artist, I sketch aboriginal art," he said.

Kent grew up in Winnipeg's North End and worked in construction until he went on disability 10 years ago. Now, he occupies his time at Siloam.

"It's a struggle for me. I'm glad Siloam is here," he said. "The food is good, and the people are friendly."

Over the years, Kent has made several friends at Siloam. One of them encouraged Kent to paint. His friend passed away last year.

"I never did find out his name, but we had meals together everyday," said Kent. "I didn't realize how much you could care about a human being until I came here. I liked to show him my paintings."

The smell of turkey dinner filled the air at the mission, which was decked out for Christmas.

More than 80 volunteers welcomed people at the door, prepared meals and served beverages to Winnipeggers who couldn't afford a Christmas meal.

Arlene Anton spent her morning in the kitchen -- her first year volunteering.

"We’ve been working all morning chopping veggies," she said. "It’s a privilege to be here, to serve."

Hannah Taylor, founder of the Ladybug Foundation, came to volunteer with her family. Taylor spent her afternoon pouring juice and meeting guests.

"The guests are neat to talk to and Siloam Mission is very close to my heart," she said.

Hundreds of people were served a traditional turkey dinner at the downtown Siloam Mission on Christmas Eve.

History

Updated on Monday, December 24, 2012 at 1:27 PM CST: Adds photo, details

1:57 PM: Adds copy

4:29 PM: Adds copy.

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