Wednesday, December 25, 2002
Steamboat Springs Six years ago, when Steamboat Springs resident Charlene Opper was sick, enduring chemotherapy and simply too tired to cook, the Board of Realtors community Christmas dinner was there for her.
This Christmas, the dinner came through again.
"We were going to go out for dinner tonight, but my husband's been sick and I know there's always plenty of food here," Opper said. "It's been there for us when we needed it."
Opper, who has also volunteered for the dinner in past years, and her two sons feasted on the overwhelming amount of food donated by various volunteers, while her husband enjoyed a much-needed nap at home.
The Christmas dinner is just one of many great community-led events that take place in Steamboat, Opper said.
"It's a great place to live," she said. "It's a very giving community."
With his family hundreds of miles away, volunteer Jeff Arend has made the community dinner an annual event for himself.
Arend, along with a slew of other volunteers, spent the day in the community center's kitchen, accepting food donations and making sure everything was hot and ready to serve.
A surprising number of people made food for the feast, but didn't stick around to enjoy it, Arend said.
"It's pretty unique that somebody will cook a ham or a whole batch of potatoes and just drop it off and leave," he said.
Hayden High School senior Allison Hall volunteered at the dinner for the fourth straight year.
She said she's come a long way from that first year, when she was embarrassed to even be here.
"My mom used to make me do it," Hall said. "I saw the better side of it once I got to be a bit older. I like it now."
Being able to give something back to others is a lesson Hall said she's happy she learned.
"Everyone needs to give," she said. "It makes people happy when you're there to help them. I always feel better at the end of the year when I know I've helped."
Hall, who hopes to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder next fall, said she plans to continue her volunteer work at future community Christmas feasts.
Besides, the food's great, she said.
"It's not like you're going to the high school cafeteria," Hall said. "This is all home-cooked food."
Live music entertained guests throughout the evening. Paul Hands, who organized the entertainment, said plenty of good musicians were in the lineup.
Brent Rowan, Gary Burman, Randy Kelly and local band 3-Wire performed at the dinner.
Hands even strummed a little guitar himself early in the event.
"I was just warming up the crowd," Hands said.
By all accounts, the 11th annual Board of Realtors community Christmas feast was a success.
"It's been wonderful," organizer Karen Hughes said.