About 80 volunteers at St Peter's Church in the City spent four to five hours of their Christmas Day ensuring those less fortunate were fed.

The church's 24th Community Christmas Day dinner filled the bellies of about 250 people who gathered at the church yesterday.

It was the largest number of people the church has catered for in recent years of hosting the annual event, volunteer co-ordinator Julie Marriner said.

"We are doing more because we thought we might beat that last-minute rush, but it still happens. No matter how many tickets we offer, there are so many that still come out of the woodwork," she said.


"It's funny because spending and shopping is up but, at the other end of the spectrum, it's equally intense," she said.

"It's interesting that we have about three families of seven and about six families of five or more. That's quite uncommon. We would usually have a lot of singles - elderly people on their own, or the homeless. But this year it's changed. It's more of everything and everyone."

The meal is free and made possible through donations from local supermarkets and other businesses. Tickets were handed out in November but about 26 people originally on a waiting list were also able to join in.

Tauranga firefighters helped set up the church with tables and chairs to fit everyone in.