Duane Ray dished out turkey to people attending the annual Christmas dinner at the Eagles Club on Tuesday.
Ray is a Bozeman resident, but he came to Havre to celebrate Christmas with his family.
“I must know the right people,” he said, laughing about this role at the start of the serving line.
This was the first time he volunteered for the annual dinner, put on by the Bergren family, which owns PJ’s Restaurant and Casino in downtown Havre.
Standing next to Ray in the serving line was Alba Haldeman of Bear Paw. This was hardly her first time at the dinner.
“I came with my parents when I was five or six,” she said.
Helping out on Christmas Day has been a family tradition for as long as she can remember.
Nowadays she served dressing, but she admits she may not have been too much help when she was five.
‘She ran around a had a good time,” laughed her mother, Betty Haldeman, who was next to her on the serving line.
Having a good time was important to the volunteers. There was lots of joking around and having a good time. But people were serious about offering community service on Christmas Day.
“My dad did this for many years, and I just wanted to help out,” Ray said.
“I just love being here every year,” she said. As she put dressing in on plates, she talked to many people she recognized from years past.
The day was especially meaningful for Rozana Mangold, who said she decided to get involved in community service in honor of her son, TJ Staples, who died in the past year.
She said she recruited Tim Goggins to take part in the festivities.
At the very start of the serving line was Ursula Brese, back for her third year as the official greeter. She welcomes people and took voluntary contributions from the guests.
She loves talking to people as they arrive. It’s one of the ways she givens back to the city.
“Havre is a very giving town,” she said.
This is the 10th year the Bergren family has run the Christmas dinner. They took it over after Bob Sivertsen gave it up as decade of running it.
Jerry Bergren and his son Scott spent the day at PJ’s cooking the food, while Jerry’s son Bob was the runner, bringing food to the Eagles Club.
“This is my father’s day off,” said Bob. The restaurant is open every other day.
Bob Bergren marveled that every year so many people come out to a community celebration of the holiday.
“The volunteers are great. you can’t thank them enough,” he said.
What’;s the future of the dinner?
“This is the fifth year we’ve said this is the last year,” he said, laughing.
The family would like a little help, he said.
“There will always be a community Christmas dinner, and we will always be involved,” he said.