Happy kitchen hands at Danny’s Diner … Anglican volunteers Kate Swansson, Barbara Jenkins, Joyce McKechnie, Lois Thurecht, Bev Coutts and (front) Jan Evans
Leah and Julie Russell were special guests at the official naming ceremony

November 18, 2014

A weekly community kitchen held every Tuesday night in Kingaroy has been officially named “Danny’s Diner” in honour of its founder, the late Pastor Danny Russell.

Pastor Danny, 61, died in April this year after a long illness.

His widow Julie and daughter Leah were on hand at Kingaroy’s Uniting Church Hall on Tuesday evening for the naming service, which was compered by Pastor Geoff Folker from the Kingaroy Baptist Church.

The community kitchen provides meals at Kingaroy’s Uniting Church Hall, opposite Shoppingworld, between 5:30pm and 7:00pm on Tuesdays for anyone “doing it tough”.

The dinners are free but guests are welcome to leave a small donation if they can afford it.

Danny’s Diner originally began as a monthly service more than a year ago at Pastor Russell’s instigation, but has gradually moved to a weekly format as support for the concept grew and more volunteers came forward.

The kitchen is now supported by volunteers from Kingaroy’s Anglican, Baptist, Uniting, Church of Christ and Highway Christian churches as well as students from St Mary’s Catholic College  and Kingaroy State High School.

Pastor Folker praised Pastor Russell for the “lasting legacy” his work had created in the area.

Apart from “Danny’s Diner”, Pastor Russell was also instrumental in the creation of the South Burnett Pantry, which provides heavily subsidised food to the region’s needy.

Pastor Folker said that although the community kitchen had now been operating for a year, it still had no name.

This made it hard for people to describe it. He said that naming it in honour of its founder seemed appropriate.

Julie and Leah Russell unveiled a banner prepared by high school students especially for the occasion.

The pair will be moving from the South Burnett to the Ryde area in Sydney shortly to live with relatives.

Also departing Kingaroy soon will be popular Anglican Minister Fr Tony Swansson and his wife Kate, who will be taking up a new posting in Beaudesert in December after five year’s service to the Kingaroy parish.

Community kitchen organiser Lenelle Wendt praised the work the couple and their helpers had put into “Danny’s Diner” and wished them well.

After the naming ceremony, Pastor Folker told southburnett.com.au the kitchen now caters to between 25 and 30 people a week.

Numbers have been “growing slightly” in recent months.

Whether this was due to guests spreading the word about the Diner or tougher times in the local economy was unclear.

Anyone who’d like to donate towards the operation of Danny’s Diner can do so at any of the participating churches.

Danny’s Diner organiser Lenelle Wendt with volunteers Edna Jackson, Fr Tony Swansson and Dot Cotrell
St Mary’s Catholic College puts on a barbecue on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at Danny’s Diner … back row, from left, principal Michael Nayler and Emmett Ford; front row, Stephanie Ross, Emma Healey, Kimberley Ross and teacher Mark Richard

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