Kekuli Cafe gets cookin' to help those devastated by Merritt flood
Every year on Christmas Day the Kekuli Café in Merritt opens its doors to the less fortunate.
Owner Elijah Mack and his family spend a long day cooking and baking together while sharing stories with patrons in the warm café.
Meals cost a donation and all the proceeds go to a local charity.
For Mack, this year was a bit different in the wake of all the hardships the community of Merritt endured and continues to recover from. With the current cold snap, Mack said the gift of warmth and giving seemed even more important.
“After a year of dealing with COVID and natural disasters my goal was to shine some light on the community,” he said. “It is amazing watching people eat, drink and laugh together. They leave with a glow that makes it all worth it. It was so cold out there.”
READ MORE: Merritt flood evacuees begin arriving in Kamloops
The sharing of food at Christmas is a Mack family tradition, and this is the fifth year he has brought it to the café. It was sparked by understanding and a shared living experience.
“This is about recognizing that at one point we were almost homeless,” Mack said. “We were living in poverty and couldn’t afford presents or much food. Coming from that to now owning a business, this is my way of giving back to the community and showing support for other families who are struggling.”
The 13-hour day included a pancake breakfast and a turkey dinner with a total of around 150 plates served. Just over $1,000 was raised. In the past, Mack has donated the funds to a cold weather shelter in town, but this year funds are going to help flood victims.
“I am dispersing the money to families who lost everything,” Mack said. “It really isn’t much but maybe they can get some fuel for their generators.”
READ MORE: Kekuli Cafe is finally under construction in Kamloops
Properties were damaged, basements had rivers flowing through them and city infrastructure was destroyed in the major flooding event that took place mid-November.
“There is ongoing reconstruction and work happening here just to make homes liveable again,” Mack said. “I have so much faith in this community and have never doubted we will successfully rebuild. It is just a matter of choosing what the next best steps are.”
Mack said he spent Boxing Day resting and feeling grateful he was able to bring a little bit of cheer to others.
He is opening his second Kekuli Café in Kamloops in the coming year and will be announcing a confirmed opening date soon.
Mack plans on bringing the Mack family tradition to the Kamloops location next Christmas.
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