KINGSTON, NS - The annual Kingston Lions’ Christmas Eve breakfast has become a beloved community holiday tradition.
The Kingston Lions Club hosted the 24th annual Christmas Eve breakfast on Dec. 24 from 6 to 10 a.m. Hundreds of community members were served a breakfast of sausages, ham, hash browns, scrambled eggs, pancakes and toast in exchange for a free-will offering.
Vernon Mullen, a past club president, has volunteered at the event every year since its inception. He said the breakfast has continued to grow in terms of attendance. In recent years, they’ve normally served between 800 and 900 people, although there has been as many as 1,000.
Mullen said there was a $2 charge when it began but in order to ensure that it was accessible to all, they later decided to make it a free will offering. The breakfast was something they wanted to do for the community.
“That’s why we join the Lions Club normally, to help the community and help worldwide, but first in the community,” Mullen said. “And this is one of the good events where they can come out and see what goes on.”
Current club president King Lion Russell Maillet said a former member brought the idea for the breakfast from Ontario 23 years ago. This was Maillet’s 12th year volunteering at the event. He’s been amazed by the turnout.
“At six o-clock when we opened the door, we had 15 people walk in,” he said. “I don’t know if that was an omen or whatever but it made me feel good.”
Maillet sees the Lions as modern-day Robin Hoods, with the exception in this instance being that they ask for free-will offerings from people in exchange for breakfast instead of stealing from the rich. They couldn’t do their good work without the support of the community.
“They come in and they help us and then we give it to people in need, and that’s the most gratifying feeling that I’ve ever had,” Maillet said. “Unfortunately, we have people in need and we’re here to help them as much as we can.”
Maillet said they have a long list of projects and initiatives they help support. The breakfast helps the Kingston Lions meet the needs of the community and allows that list to grow.
He said club members view the community as an extended family and the breakfast as a huge family gathering. People go to the event to enjoy a social outing at Christmas time. It’s become a tradition.
One special guest who always attends is Santa Claus, handing out treats to all the good girls and boys. Other special guests included Premier Stephen McNeil, Kings West MLA Leo Glavine and officials from 14 Wing Greenwood.
Maillet said they had approximately 50 Lions volunteering at the event, along with some of their family members, the 1st Kingston Scouting group and other community volunteers.
For the third year, Sobeys in Greenwood partnered with the club to provide all the food for the function. Maillet said they’re very fortunate to have this support. The Kingston Lions are thankful to store manager Eric Pothier for recognizing the importance of contributing to the breakfast on behalf of Sobeys and helping the Lions raise funds.