Levin will say a special thank you to some of its bravest in a special way next week.

Levin Uniting Church is being transformed into an instant restaurant in an effort to acknowledge the sacrifices made by essential workers in the region during the recent Covid-19 lockdown period.

The church has teamed up with the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Church to transform their church hall into a fine-dining arena, with the support of Raewyn's Restaurant and Horowhenua District Council.

With a capacity to cater for 80 deserving workers at each sitting, there was the ability to cook up more than 700 thank-you meals.

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The genesis of the idea was that it should be more of an acknowledgement of sacrifice than a celebration.

Although Covid-19 continues to wreck havoc worldwide, and more cases recorded in New Zealand in recent weeks, organisers felt the time was right to show gratitude.

Reverend Sandra Williams said rather than a celebration, it was an acknowledgement and a thank you for the efforts of those that went to work in a variety of roles to keep the community alive during level 3 and 4 of lockdown.

"We think it is important for the community that we thank these essential workers are acknowledged and thanked in some way," she said.

Levin Uniting Church Reverend Sandra Williams and Community Liason Officer Roxy Warrington in the kitchen.
Levin Uniting Church Reverend Sandra Williams and Community Liason Officer Roxy Warrington in the kitchen.

"There have been so many wonderful people in our community who risked their own health to be at the forefront of serving others during the recent lockdown and we wanted to honour them and say thank you."

Organisers had done their best to scout sectors involved in essential work and distribute the dinner tickets in an effort to locate those deserving of a treat, like supermarket staff, resthome workers, taxi drivers, police, funeral directors, dairy workers, ambulance drivers, pharmacy staff.

As it was impossible to locate and treat every single essential worker in the community to dinner, organisers had also planned a high tea for Friday and Saturday next week, and a come-one-and-all sausage sizzle and church service on Sunday, July 12.

"The last thing we want to do is make people feel like they are missing out," she said.

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Rev Williams said through the lockdown the church initially offered to go shopping for a number of elderly church parishioners and quickly found themselves a major part of the community-wide effort to help ensure those in need received food.

Through a Ministry of Social Development grant they were able to shop for 26 people in need on 80 occasions, and as part of the effort themselves became acutely aware just how essential these workers were to the wellbeing of the community.

Horowhenua District Council had donated $3000 towards the initiative, with the church offering to underwrite other expenses to the tune of $15,000.

Levin Uniting Church community liaison officer Roxy Warrington said there was always room for more workers and offers of donation from the community.

Already several businesses like Raewyn's Restaurant, who were coordinating the kitchen, were involved, while Central Automotive had offered a spit free of charge.

Sarah Hodge from Horrobin and Hodge in Manakau was tasked with helping transform the church hall into venue for fine dining.

Organisers were hoping more people might also come on board with donations or become involved in helping out with the dinners, the high teas, or the barbecue.

Congregation member Jeny Brown was taking calls (368-9505) from anyone that wanted to help in any capacity.

And piano that sits in the corner of hall was crying out for someone to play while people ate.