Residents unite for Michiko’s charity dinner
A chef hoped diners would engage with strangers when he served Christmas dinners to those less fortunate last night.
Michiko Campbell welcomed crowds of people to share in the festive atmosphere and enjoy meals outside the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in Hamilton.
It was the fourth time he staged the event, which returned after work commitments meant the 29-year-old was unable to offer it in 2017. Mr Campbell hoped people were encouraged to interact with others. He said: “It was our first time adding tables, we wanted to create the atmosphere of community and bringing people together.
“This was probably the most common thing to do — have long tables so everybody can sit together. People are interacting with people they probably don't even know.
“You get a lot of different emotions, people come with a lot of different burdens so we're here to listen as well.”
Mr Campbell said free meals were served to “everybody and anybody in need” and others supported the cause by giving cash donations.
The creator of the all-purpose seasoning Chiko's Smokey Rub added: “I feel there's a lot more interaction this year, a lot more warm feeling.
“People are coming out to support it but you do see people less fortunate than others.”
His target was to provide 800 dinners that included turkey, ham, vegetables and cassava pie.
More than 200 meals were delivered to residential and nursing homes for seniors and people with special needs before the event started yesterday.
Mr Campbell explained: “I was always supported for my small business, Chiko's Smokey Rub, so I thought, why can't I support somebody else?
“We have a lot of people all year round who go without hot food, or have to go to Salvation Army or other places just to get food to fill their belly, so why not put on an event?
“My twin brother Machai, who died ten years ago, we always wanted to do a small event of giving back. Once I decided to do it, it has just been full on.”
Among those enjoying the food was Rose James, of Southampton, whose family has been friends with Mr Campbell's family for years.
She said: “We just thought we would come and support Chiko and what he's doing for the community. It's a very nice atmosphere and nice to see the community coming together.”
Ms James added: “It's marvellous that he's doing something of this magnitude for the community. I wish him much success.”
Shirley Smith, 75, of Devonshire, heard about the event through word of mouth.
She said: “With all the torment and uncertainty in the world, it's a good thing that good-hearted people think enough to bring things like this together.”
Another happy diner was Wyndham Smith, 63, of Warwick, who described the meal as “one of the best” he had eaten.
He added: “It's so nice that they do this.”
Mr Campbell thanked the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club for offering the space in front of its venue. He was also grateful to companies that sponsored the event as well as the 36 volunteers assisting last night.
Mr Campbell hoped the money raised would come close to or surpass the $3,000 total from 2016. The recipient of the charity donation from this year's event had yet to be confirmed but previous donations have gone to charities or to medical patients struggling with costs.