Steamboat comes together for feast |

Steamboat comes together for feast

Locals, out-of-towners contribute to community dinner

Brandon Gee

After walking past a mountain of turkeys in the kitchen and an entire wall of desserts in the dining room, it’s hard to believe that, just last week, Routt County United Way was scrambling for food donations for its annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

“The response from the community has been overwhelming,” United Way Executive Director Kelly Stanford said shortly before the scheduled 1 p.m. start of the meal Thursday.

Although just nine turkeys had been promised as of a week ago, Stanford was expecting a total of 40 on Thursday.

“The desserts are also kind of a phenomenon,” she said.

There also was a last-minute rush of volunteerism. At 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Stanford said, about 40 volunteers had showed up to work. Food donations and volunteers steadily trickled in throughout the hour leading up to the meal.

“Steamboat’s the type of community that will help out in these situations,” said Doug Garber, who was volunteering in the kitchen.

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Last year, about 425 people attended the Community Thanksgiving Dinner. This year, United Way prepared for as many as 500.

“I think the need is greater this year,” said volunteer Roberta Gill, referring to the downturn in the national economy. “There’s been people that have lost their jobs already.”

Although everyone had his or her own list of things to be thankful for this year, there seemed to be a common thread Thursday among the diverse group of guests and volunteers: They were thankful for Steamboat.

Standing behind the turkey mountain, wearing an apron reading “kiss me I’m a pilgrim” and wielding a carving knife, John Jones didn’t have to be asked twice why he decided to volunteer at the dinner Thursday.

“Steamboat is my favorite city in the whole United States,” said Jones, who moved here three years ago and works at the Elk River Guest Ranch near Clark. “I love the town so much, I want to give something back. That’s all there is to it. : My favorite thing in Steamboat, believe it or not, is the people. That’s why I’m here. We’re a great, great community.”

The Steamboat Springs Community Center kitchen may have looked like a hectic place as Jones carved away at the turkeys, but Rebecca Pauvert – who seemed to be running the kitchen and joked that she enjoys bossing people around – said the key to feeding hundreds of people is organization.

The Pauverts should know. It was the fifth year in a row that Rebecca and her husband, Marco, volunteered at the Community Thanksgiving Dinner. The couple own and are chefs at The Epicurean Cafe.

“We love to do it. It’s a good cause,” Marco Pauvert said. “When you give in Steamboat, people give to you.”

Jodi and Larry Carlson also were thankful to be in Steamboat, which they said was their “ideal” place to retire. The couple moved here three months ago from the San Francisco Bay area. They brought a turkey, sweet potatoes and dressing before sitting down to eat and hopefully meet some new friends in their new home.

“We don’t know very many people,” Jodi Carlson said. “We only know the neighbors who are all around us, and they’re all at grandma’s house.”