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St. Michael’s Hospital spreads Christmas cheer to Toronto Police officers at 51 Division

Toronto, December 24, 2015

By Corinne Ton That

St. Michael’s Hospital Chef Desmond Morritt and sous-chef David Woolgar prepare turkey for Christmas meals.
St. Michael’s Hospital Chef Desmond Morritt and sous-chef David Woolgar prepare turkey for Christmas meals.

Every year, St. Michael’s Hospital delivers between 250 and 300 pounds of turkey to Toronto Police officers at 51 Division for their annual Christmas dinner.

The tradition began about 15 years ago, when an officer at 51 Division contacted the Food Services Department asking if the hospital could provide a Christmas meal for the men and women working around the holidays.

“Considering the culture of the hospital and our focus on providing care to the community, we agreed immediately, and we’ve been preparing them dinner every year since, free of charge,” said Luis Pacheco, senior procurement specialist. “51 Division has always been there for us, and they’re always willing to help us out in times of need.”

Pacheco creates the menu and orders food for the turkey dinner – complete with stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. Once the food is ordered, chef Desmond Morritt and cooks at St. Michael’s volunteer their time to prepare the Christmas feast.

“Our chef even comes in at around 2 a.m. to make sure the turkeys are ready for the dinner,” said Pacheco. “And the officers are always so thankful for what we do – they send a thank-you note every year thanking St. Michael’s staff for their hard work.”

Once everything is ready to go, an officer from 51 Division brings the food from St. Michael’s to 51 Division. The dinner takes place in early December each year.

“It’s just part of our Christmas planning and a way to spread some Christmas cheer,” said Heather Fletcher, director of Support Services. “The men and women at 51 Division are part of the family we take care of at Christmas.”

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.