A dedicated band of volunteers is keeping the spirit of Christmas alive at Aldinga.

Every year for nearly a decade the volunteers have rallied around strangers, forfeiting time with their own families on Christmas day to bring cheer to the isolated, lonely and those doing it tough.

This Christmas Day will be no different as months of preparation culminate in the annual community lunch for more than 100 adults and children.

At the door to welcome them will be Centacare’s Anne Nielsen.

For the past eight years, Anne has taken bookings for the event and coordinated the volunteers who donate their time and goods to put on a traditional Christmas spread, complete with all the trimmings.

“Everyone leaves with a full tummy, warm hearts, gifts and extra bags of fruit, veggies and other goodies,’’ Anne says.

“And the kids walk away with sacks full of presents from Father Christmas. It’s a special day for everyone’’

Anne says the lunch provides some much-needed relief and a meaningful reason to celebrate for those facing life challenges and financial pressures.

“Some people come every year but there are always new faces; those who hear about it from others or are invited by a community worker to come along.

“This year I’ve noticed more individual bookings coming through.’’

Local resident Trevor Blackwell began the tradition which has grown with the support of local businesses and community organisations including Bendigo Bank, Louis Place Café, Drakes, The Salvation Army, Centacare, St Vincent de Paul, Aldinga Institute Hall Committee, Lions Den, and Communities for Children to name only a few.