100 Years Ago: Poor Children’s Christmas Tree, Christmas Dinner for Soldiers

The Intelligencer December 27, 1915 (page 7)

“Poor Children’s Christmas Tree. To the members of the Fifteenth Regimental Band of Belleville, is due the credit of making Christmas Day pleasant for the many poor children in the city, by providing a Christmas tree and distributing gifts. It was indeed a happy crowd of youngsters and their beaming faces and expressions of gratitude at being remembered was a reward for faithful work on the part of the promoters.

At about one thirty several hundred children had gathered at the Armouries, but owing to the inclement weather hundreds of others were not able to get there. Though the tree was a great success, all the children could not be reached as many names were sent in without street address and ages, and time would not permit the investigation of all cases.

Assistance was given in the Armouries by several citizens, for which the members of the band are very thankful, as the distribution of prizes did not finish until near six o’clock, and without their assistance would have been much later.”

The Intelligencer December 27, 1915 (page 7)

“Khaki Christmas. The provision made for the Christmas dinners for the soldiers at the Barracks …  has set a new standard for events of that kind. Not a single detail was overlooked. There were all sorts of things to eat: roast turkey, cranberry sauce, dressing, green peas, potatoes, carrots, then plum pudding, brown sauce and pies innumerable—pumpkin, mince, apple, lemon, custard, raisin and representatives of every other variety. No, that wasn’t all. Then followed, nuts, candies, oranges, apples, raisins, and a supply of cigarettes, the gift of a friend of the soldiers.

Everything worked like a charm. The dinner was called for 11.45 A.M., and just at that moment Capt. Ruskon of the Salvation Army asked the blessing, and the finest Christmas dinner that soldiers anywhere have ever been served, was started. The mess room was transformed into a fine dining hall by the use of flags, and tastily decorated tables that were a compliment to the ladies of the Khaki Club who undertook that important duty.

The committee in charge of the serving was convened by Miss Campbell and were in addition to being most capable and pleasant, exceedingly popular. In fact everyone was the same, whether they were working in the kitchen carving or serving like Captain Watson did all morning, or whether they were doing any number of a hundred and one other things that remained to be done, all had smiles. Without any comment from anyone the ladies would have known their kindness was appreciated, but just to put it tangibly, every lady who deferred her own Christmas dinner to come down and help was the recipient of a sterling silver 80th Battalion badge.

The provisions were aplenty; so much so that no demand was made at all on the allowance made by the Government for Christmas dinner and the men will receive that later.

More hearty co-operation in any enterprise would be impossible, and Mr. Sharpe of the Militia Y.M.C.A., having solicited the assistance of the churches, wishes to gratefully acknowledge their help and that of the press and every individual and organization that took part.

It was a day to be remembered. It may be, though we hope not, the last Christmas dinner for some of the boys and it must be gratifying to everyone who helped to have had a part.”