Steamboat Springs resident Lauri Aigner dishes up smiles during Friday’s Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Community Christmas Dinner at the community center.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs resident Lauri Aigner dishes up smiles during Friday’s Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors Community Christmas Dinner at the community center.

Board of Realtors event feeds hundreds on Christmas Day

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— There are so many things and so many stories that help remind people of the holiday spirit.

Friday at the annual Steam­boat Springs Board of Realtors Community Christmas Din­ner, the Roetzel family certainly embodied holiday cheer.

Originally from Houston, the Roetzels purchased a house in Steamboat two months ago after vacationing here for several years.

The family decided to spend the holidays in their new place. And when they found out about the community dinner, they jumped at the chance to volunteer.

“It’s Christmas. Part of Christ­mas is giving,” said Frank Roetzel, who along with his wife, Jeanette, and sons Robert and Richard served turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing and other holiday dishes during the free dinner at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. “I thought it was a good way for us and my kids to work a little. I think to be part of a community, you have to give back in any way you can. It’s everywhere. It feels very much like Christmas here.”

“I wasn’t expecting to do it here. I was just expecting to ski,” said Robert, 15. “But it feels good. I know I have a lot to be thankful for. I know people that aren’t as fortunate as me. This feels good.”

Event organizers started working Thursday to set up for the dinner. By noon Friday, some of the 100 or so volunteers started to show up to prepare the decorations and get everything ready.

The people began to pour in when the doors opened to the public at 2 p.m., and they didn’t stop until the dinner’s end at 6 p.m. In addition to the food, multiple musicians donated time and played tunes throughout the event.

Those who attended the meal were a mix of families that didn’t have anywhere else to go, families that wanted to spend time with one another and folks who came to see people they don’t often get to see.

No matter the reason, all were looking for a little holiday cheer.

“A lot of the people here have become our family,” said Mitch Cantele, a local Realtor who was serving and enjoying food with his wife, Cynthia, and their two children, Aidan and Miranda. “We’ve been here for 20 years. We have no immediate family here, so this is a way to get together with other family and friends. We don’t get to see a lot of people, and this is a way for us to do it.”

Suellyn Godino, the chairwoman of this year’s Board of Realtors Community Christmas Dinner, said volunteers were preparing to feed at least 600 people Friday.

Godino, who has helped with the event for the past four years, had no problem providing a reason for her service.

“Did you go inside and see everybody?” Godino asked, smiling. “It’s purely selfish for me. It makes me feel so good to help everybody. All the different stories make me cry.”

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