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Christmas charity dinner feeds more than 1,000

A local Helsinki charity has been providing a sit-down Christmas dinner for people down on their luck for a decade.

Perinteinen Hurstin vähävaraisten ja yksinäisten joulujuhla järjestettiin Helsingin Messukeskuksessa jouluaattona 24. joulukuuta.
The Hursti charitable foundation relies on donations from corporations as well as private individuals. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

The Hursti charitable foundation laid out its annual Christmas spread for people facing hard times on Christmas Eve.

The event attracted roughly 1,500 people at the Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre (Messukeskus) in Pasila for a sit-down dinner featuring traditional Finnish Christmas fare.

Volunteer Renja Alisalo said that she had been following the work of the Hursti foundation for many years, but decided to roll up her sleeves and get involved this year.

"The desire to help others and to share my time with them, that’s why I’m here," Alisalo explained.

Roughly 200 volunteers turned out to assist with the preparations and staging the holiday dinner. Guests said that they appreciated the efforts made on their behalf.

"This is so important for low-income people," said Hilkka Nikkola, who moved to Finland from Ingria, formerly a part of Finnish Karelia but now part of Russia.

While many expressed gratitude for the charitable act, others took the opportunity to lambaste government police,

"This is Heikki's [Hursti's] tenth event. What kind of society do we live in where people are left to manage alone? Why do we pay taxes?" said guest Hannu Porkka.

Porkka said that it was also his tenth time attending the free dinner, something he said left a bitter taste in his mouth.

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