Students cooking Thanksgiving feast

Professional cooking students from the College of New Caledonia are ready to serve.

The annual Thanksgiving dinner, a partnership between the CNC Professional Cooking Apprenticeship Program and the Society of

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St. Vincent de Paul continues to be a huge success as they put the finishing touches on a turkey dinner set for at least 700 this coming Sunday.

"It's very good opportunity for students," said CNC professional cooking instructor Ron Christian.

"They're getting out into the community and helping the needy and those less fortunate while getting red seal accreditation for it."

CNC students have offered to lend a hand to St. Vincent de Paul for over a decade and this year, 18 students have prepared a banquet-style brunch of 18 turkeys, 12 toupie hams, steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, stuffing and 130 litres of gravy.

"Students do everything from cooking to slicing, peeling, stocking and cooking. They've even created the stuffing," Christian said.

"It's a big experience for them to serve this many people. It's a real learning curve for them."

Throughout the brunch, student volunteers from the program will be on location to help orchestrate the brunch.

The volunteer response from the students was extremely positive for Christian who had 10 eager students step forward.

"I love this," said first year student O'Shan Morin.

"It feels so great especially knowing you are helping people, people you see on the streets who might not have anything to eat."

Another first year student, Sydney Purdue carefully cuts into the stuffing.

"It's such a good feeling. I like that we have an opportunity to take what we learn and help people," Purdue said.

For Dustin Heit, also in first year, it's about sharing a simple love of cooking.

"I love cooking. When asked to help, I couldn't wait to sign up," he said.

St. Vincent de Paul Society president Bernie Goold is grateful to the students at CNC who continue to help those in need for an afternoon.

"They feel like they are participating in a restaurant experience as the students walk around dressed in their uniforms," Goold said. "The students and Chef Ron do a phenomenal job. They are a blessing for us."

The holiday dinner will be served at 11 a.m. on Sunday at

Sacred Heart Cathedral, 887 Patricia Blvd. and will continue until 1 p.m.

All left over food is donated to St. Vincent de Paul.

"We've been at this for a few years now and every year it makes my heart feel good to help people," Christian said.

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is a lay Catholic organization whose mission is to live the Gospel message by serving Christ in the poor with love, respect, justice and joy.

Volunteers assist people in need, wherever they live - in their homes, on the street, in shelters, in hospital or in prison.

Volunteers work in their own area and respond to local needs.

Worldwide, the Society takes part in various projects relating to: health, agriculture, education, housing, employment support, help for elderly, disabled, isolated or excluded people.

Funding by donations provides emergency assistance and rehabilitation for victims of natural or humanitarian disasters and finances development projects.

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