Truck Stop Christmas Dinner

Pipestone Flyer

No one should be alone for Christmas and in the spirit of the season, the Nisku Truck Stop will once again open its doors for Christmas dinner. Running from noon to 6 p.m. Christmas Day, this is the 18th year the Nisku Truck Stop, 8020 Sparrow Drive, has served Christmas dinner.

“The first year I was here,” said Linda Dugdale of the Nisku Truck Stop, “we closed for Christmas.”

After receiving numerous complaints from their truck driving regulars who said it wasn’t right that they were stuck far from home on Christmas Day and couldn’t get a hot meal or some company. The next year, said Dugdale, the truck stop stayed open and offered a free meal to the trucks on the road. Over the years, the dinner evolved into a charity event as diners chose to donate what they could for the meal they were being served.

For the second year in a row, the Leduc Community Hospital’s Family Care Program via the Black Gold Health Foundation will be the recipient of the proceeds.

“Last year was such a big success we chose them again,” said Dugdale.

Last year’s dinner raised $5,000 for the Family Care Program. Lorraine Popik, executive director of the Black Gold Health Foundation, said the money will be used to finish the family quiet room they have been working on. “This is a place where families can go in times of grief,” she said.

The Family Care Program has already renovated and refurbished four hospital rooms and built two patient lounges. “We’re concentrating on palliative care and areas where we have patients with more long-term care needs,” said Popik.

Once finished, instead of the bland, sterile hospital rooms most people are familiar with, Popik said, the rooms have been likened to top grade hotel rooms.

“Our mandate is to enhance health care services in our community,” she said. “Alberta Health provides the basics and we provide the better.”

The more comfortable rooms and softer ambience has made it easier for patients and families to deal with difficult situations.

“It gives them a comfortable feeling if they’re visiting rather than waiting,” she said. “It’s difficult to explain but it touches the heart.”

While originally intended for truckers away from home, the dinner is now open to everyone and Popik said it’s a real heartwarming experience to see people who are homeless sharing dinner with those who are much better off.

“Anyone is welcome and you give what you can, if you can,” said Popik.