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Ottawa Mission appeals for donations as it anticipates record-breaking number of Christmas meals

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The Ottawa Mission is preparing to serve a record number of Christmas meals this holiday season and it is looking for donations.

According to the shelter, it is on track to surpass its all-time high annual meal count of 1,057,478 meals from its past fiscal year, as it prepares to serve nearly 17,000 special Christmas meals from Dec. 10 to 17.

"It's a huge demand and a huge pull on our resources; that's why we're putting out the message now," says Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley. "We're putting out the push, with Giving Tuesday and other events that we're doing, to try and raise funds to get us geared up and through this season."

Prior to the pandemic, the average number of meals served each Christmas was about 2,500, according to the Ottawa Mission. The estimate of 17,000 meals expected to be served this season is almost seven times higher.

"That is an astronomical number, compared to years past," says chef and manager of kitchen services Terry Shulman. "Thanksgiving was a record-setting number and we expect to top that for Christmas this year. We're preparing for that."

Chef Terry Shulman pulls turkeys out of the oven, ready to be frozen and served during the Christmas season, Dec. 10 to 17. (Peter Szperling/CTV News Ottawa)

How can you help?

Dymon Storage will match donations made to the Christmas meal other vital programs at the Ottawa Mission on Monday and Tuesday, known as Giving Tuesday. Donations can be made on the Ottawa Mission's website.

In addition, Dymon Storage says it will be donating a meal for every Ottawa Mission Giving Tuesday post that is shared on the Mission's social media channels.

"From a corporate perspective, Dymon is really dedicated to the Ottawa Mission. We've had a long-standing relationship with them and we're here again to make this year's Giving Tuesday a tremendous success," said Dymon Group executive vice-president Steven Creighton.

The Ottawa Mission is also accepting turkey donations. These donations can be dropped off between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the garage entrance to the Ottawa Mission at the corner of Waller and Besserer. The Ottawa Mission asks that you ring the bell, and a staff person will arrive to receive your gift.

How much will be served?

"It will take 7,000 pounds of turkey, 3,500 pounds of peeled potatoes, 2,000 pounds of vegetables, 150 gallons of gravy, and 900 vegetarian quiches to ensure that those who turn to us for help this Christmas do not go hungry," said Chef Ric Allen-Watson, Director of Food Services for the Mission in a news release.

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