$500 cookie takes the cake

Steamboat hurricane relief efforts raise thousands

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Never underestimate the power of the modest bake sale.

Students at the Lowell Whiteman School were able to raise more than $1,300 last week for hurricane relief.

The bake sale was helped greatly by an anonymous philanthropist who contributed $500 in exchange for a single cookie.

Senior Nick Ludolph was the impetus behind the bake sale with help from fellow students Lauren Ventrudo, Ellie Southworth, Sara Sable, Caroline Wilson and Emily Gold.

Steamboat residents who missed the Whiteman fund-raiser have a chance to get in the game today when 27 restaurants have agreed to contribute a portion of their receipts to Steamboat Springs Gulf Coast Relief as part of the "Get Fat on Tuesday" event. Steamboat Springs Gulf Coast Relief is raising funds to bring hurricane survivors to the community. Donations are being taken through United Way.

Rex Brice of Mazzola's Italian Lounge discovered last week just how generous Steamboat residents can be when he hosted a fundraising evening with all the proceeds of dinners served that night split among the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army and the Humane Society, with the Red Cross receiving the lion's share.

Brice asked his crew at Mazzola's whether they would donate their wages, and they agreed without hesitation. Then, Grant Fenton of Steamboat Investments agreed to co-sponsor the event and underwrote the cost of food and beverages for the night.

The restaurant served 300 meals, and many guests wrote checks directly to the relief organizations for as much as $100 and $200. The Mazzola's team raised $16,000.

"I give all of the credit to my staff, the customers who came in that night, and people like Grant Fenton who made it work," Brice said. "If you think of the whole country and multiply it by what a small town like Steamboat did," you realize how we can work together.

Similarly, Cafe Diva held a Cajun dinner last week that netted $9,000 for hurricane relief efforts.

Kristy Fox of Freshie's restaurant said she and Fritz Aurin of The Steamboat Smokehouse were impressed with what other Steamboat businesses were accomplishing and put their heads together to pull off tonight's multi-restaurant fundraiser.

They decided to keep the money in town by supporting the efforts to sponsor hurricane refugee families interested in coming here for temporary housing. Each restaurant will be able to structure the benefit to fit their ability to contribute, and their employees also will be able to do what's comfortable for them. Checks will go to the United Way on behalf of Steamboat Springs Gulf Coast Relief.

"It was really quite spontaneous. Fritz and I realized we all had the same thought on our minds," Fox said, and we thought, "Why don't we do a joint effort and make it count. Most everyone jumped at it, and those that didn't were already doing something.

"The people of Steamboat who go out often will want to really make sure they go out" tonight.

Participating restaurants in addition to Aurin's and Fox's establishments include: Antares, Cantina, Mambo Italiano, Creekside Cafe and Grill, Colorado Bagel Co., Johnny B. Good's, Mahogany Ridge, Azteca Taqueria, The Egg & I, Backcountry Provisions, Beau Jo's, 8th Street Steakhouse, Lucille's, The Yacht Club, The Ore House at the Pine Grove, Riggio's, Tobiano's, The Old Town Pub, The Tugboat Grill & Pub, Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, Panda Garden, Old West Steakhouse, Winona's, The Shack and Sevens.

A number of other businesses and organizations are hosting ongoing fundraisers. A partial list includes Three Quarter Circles Ranch, The Center for Movement Arts, Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, Hayden volunteers, Anchor Way Baptist Church, Bear River Bar and Grill, Epilogue Book Co., Ambiente, Steamboat Kids, Christian Heri--tage School and organizers of a toy drive in Steamboat.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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