John Kelleher Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Michele Denny stood in the kitchen of the Eagles Club Christmas morning cutting pumpkin pie. She looked a little surprised anyone would ask why she was volunteering at the community Christmas dinner. "It's great to volunteer," she said. "My family is in California, what better way to spend the day," she said. She works at PJ's, the restaurant owned by the Bergren family which sponsors the event, so it was natural that she volunteer. "We have a lot of volunteers," she said, looking around. Young people, old people, families and single folks took part in the festivities standing in line to fill their plates with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and more. And people of all ages were there to serve them. "We already delivered about 200 meals to people at home," said Denny. Volunteer drivers had taken to-go meals to people Around the city who were unable for one reason for another to come out and join in the community meal. The volunteers were there for a variety of reasons. "It's part of the Christmas spirit," said Tom Adams. He was dishing out mashed potatoes while his wife offered turkey to people in the serving line. "Our kids and grandkids are in Arizona, so we are spending Christmas here," he said. "You get so much out of it," said Judy Adams. Most of the attendees were from Havre, but Caroline Yellow Robe drove in from Fort Belknap. "I'm here to help bring this to the community," she said. "It's good that they do this. So many people would be alone on Christmas." It wasn't the only volunteer activity some folks were involved in. Evon Berger had spent the morning feeding turkey to animals at Kitty Keepers before turning her attention to hungry people later in the morning. "The kitties appreciated the food," she said. "Of course, they always do." Chase Rolf, 16, waited on tables along with his father, Wade Rolf. "It's great to volunteer," he said. The community meal has been going on for a quarter century and is likely to continue for a long time said Bob Bergren, the Montana House Speaker whose family has run the dinner for eight years. Before that, state legislator Bob Severson ran the program for 17 years. "We expect to serve about 700 all together," Bergren said. He said he i s always impressed by the number of people who spend their holiday at the dinner both volunteers and people who come to have a good time. Some of the food is prepared at PJ’s, the rest of it at the Eagles Club, he said. The Bergren family has decided that it is time to move on and is looking for someone else to run next year's dinner, he said. This being Havre, he has no double someone will step forward. "I'm confidant that this tradition will continue," he said. "We've talked to the people at the Eagles Club, and we will work something out."