Steamboat Springs At first glance, the Sunday afternoon gathering in the basement of the St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Oak Creek looked ordinary.
South Routt County residents sat close to one another and talked over soup under fluorescent lights.
Some hurried through their meals to return home and finish watching the Denver Broncos defeat the Kansas City Chiefs. Others had a slew of lights and decorations to put up after the meal.
But as she filled up a bowl with a potato leek soup that won universal accolades, Jenet Lewis explained why the annual holiday gathering offers a lot more than taste and chatter.
“It's a tight community,” Lewis said. “And this gathering raises some money for a lot of different causes.”
She said the donations collected at the lunch will support Catholic missions and charities that could range from helping victims of Superstorm Sandy to supporting Routt County parishioners who are in need.
In its third year, organizers said the event doesn't bring in much money. But Lewis said even a haul of $200 is something to get excited about.
She started the event to emulate the small bazaars and holiday gatherings she was used to attending with her mom while growing up in Chadds Ford, Penn.
In addition to home-cooked soups, parishioners filled a table with donated holiday ornaments and decorations for their annual holiday bazaar.
Sunday's lunch is just one of the many community gatherings hosted at the church throughout the year.
Parishioners make a dinner each month that is open to the public, and community members also gather monthly for a potluck meal.
And as she prepared to travel to Steamboat to ring a bell for the Salvation Army outside of City Market, Virginia Rossi said the holiday gathering is a welcome pause during a busy part of the year. She added that it creates a strong sense of fellowship.
“It's kind of a time to wind down and take a deep breathe when you're thinking, 'Oh my gosh, it's a month until Christmas,'” Rossi said.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com