Long running tradition serves up holiday spirit on Thanksgiving day

A plate of turkey is doused in gravy at the Routt County United Way Community Dinner on Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.
Spencer Powell/Steamboat Pilot and Today

With 28 turkeys, 25 plates of potatoes, as well as servings of green bean casserole, cranberries and other traditional holiday treats, the annual Steamboat Springs Community Thanksgiving dinner promises to serve hundreds of people Thursday.

“This is not just for folks that can’t afford a Thanksgiving dinner,” said Jennifer Bruen, associate director of the United Way of the Yampa Valley. “There are some elderly people that attend who are looking for friendship. There are young people that work at the Steamboat Resort that don’t have anywhere to go — it’s great for everybody.”

Bruen said for four decades, United Way of the Yampa Valley has helped organized the holiday event, which offered a filling holiday meal to more than 600 people last year. This year, Mountain Valley Bank has sponsored the event that offers a free community dinner on Thanksgiving for anyone in the community. The doors will open at 1 p.m. at the Steamboat Springs Community Center, which is located at 1605 Lincoln Ave. on Thanksgiving Day, and will serve guests until 5 p.m. Food donations will be accepted throughout the day.

“It’s about building community together,” said Deanna Sanchez, marketing and public relations for United Way of the Yampa Valley. “We have a lot of people who live here that don’t have families that are from here and so you don’t have a family to be with on the day of Thanksgiving and that can be very lonely. Because part of our efforts is in mental health … we want to make sure that we build a sense of community with other people. So, it’s not just ‘I don’t have food,’ it’s also ‘I don’t have anybody to eat with. I don’t have a community to eat with.'”

Bruen said that much of the food was donated from community members who put their name on the signup sheet to bring items on the menu, and also had people sign up for the more than 300 shifts needed to make the event happen.

This year, Steamboat Resort donated 10 turkeys (as well as linens), and Steamboat Springs Meat and Seafood brought more. The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club provided 30-plus pies, and the event also received a $300 gift card from Walmart to help pay for table clothes.

The food arrives ready to serve, and the staff will be working in the kitchen keeping things warm, carving the turkey and completing final preparation in the kitchen at the community center.

Turkey time in Steamboat Springs

What: Community Thanksgiving Dinner
When: 1-5 p.m. Thursday, Nov 23, 2023
Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center
Info: There is no cost for the dinner, which will include turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberries and pie.

Sanchez said the United Way staff will show up Thursday at 9 a.m. when the donations are expected to start arriving and start setting up the event.

“It’s a lot of fun for staff, and it’s a way that we can build relationships with community members that we don’t always get to see,” Bruen said. “It’s a special occasion for everyone.”

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