The annual JAMS Family Christmas Day Dinner celebrating its 20th year has become a cherished local tradition, that brightens the holidays for many area residents. Initially created as a means to brighten the season after a family tragedy, the event has now become an event with many locals celebrating together.
Founder, Sandy Johnson shares more details, “It started when my husband died of a massive aneurysm in 2003, and my girls and I were looking for a different way to spend Christmas that year because we didn't want to be alone. We actually owned a little restaurant in town, and we had our first Christmas dinner there and we had 53 people. Since then, we've grown to over 170 each year.”
The creative JAMS acronym was developed by taking the first letter of each family member’s name.
“It comes from myself, and my daughters' names, Jen, Ally, Mickey, and Sandy. And I've since added my husband, Joel,” said Sandy.
Sandy extends a warm welcome to anyone who might want to join the festivities.
“Pretty much anybody can come. It's for all genders, all walks of life, like financially, doesn't really matter. We are looking for couples, singles, or families that are too small to cook a big meal. What I want to say is JAMS is a mission. Our mission is that no one will spend Christmas Day alone. So, it's not like we're a restaurant. That's not what we're doing. You know, just because people don't want to coot Turkey. We are actually doing it for the people that don't have families to spend the day with,” explained Sandy.
Sandy expressed her gratitude for the community support and now with rising costs that support is needed more than ever.
“We've always relied on the community, and they’ve always come through for us. But this year with the rising cost of groceries, we're asking for a little extra help if possible, and preferably in the form of gift cards for groceries or cash donations.”
The generosity of the JAMS Family doesn’t end with Christmas, each year they look for a local organization to support.
“We're going to basically complete the circle by giving whatever is donated at the meal back to the community. This year we're going to donate to the Therapeutic Animal Park. We think it's just a wonderful attraction for Weyburn residents.”
Sandy also shared that the dinner is free for anyone who might be struggling, however, those who are able are welcome to donate any amount for the meal.
While no tickets are sold for the event preregistration is encouraged to help ensure adequate supplies are available.
In addition, JAMS will also be offering rides to those who may not have access to a vehicle.
“We would rather pick people up than deliver our meals. Over the years we have made deliveries, but it's getting really hard to do that many. So, we do have our folks who can't get out and we will deliver to those. But we will come and pick you up and we have wheelchair access, so that's not a problem.”
The event will kick off at 1 p.m. on Christmas Day and will be held at the Knox Fellowship Hall. To donate, register, or book a ride for the JAMS Family Christmas Day Dinner you can call or text (306)861-3412.
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