Christmas dinner organizers say it is time to pass the torch

By 
Brendan Heidner Ranger-review Staff Writer
Sunday, June 26, 2022
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The Glendive Community Christmas Dinner has been held for over a decade and regularly serves hundreds of community members. Now, organizers say the future is in doubt. This photo is from the 2019 dinner. Ranger-Review file photo

While most people are not yet thinking about Christmas, one local organization is beginning preparations to either transfer management or dissolve so they are able to spend this year’s Christmas with family.

Members of the Glendive Community Christmas organization recently announced that they are unable to continue administering the annual community Christmas dinner, a popular community event.

The GCC is a nonprofit organization currently comprised of nine members - five board members and four officers - who carry out all of the planning and hosting of the dinner.

According to GCC board member Betsey Hedrick, each person currently involved in the organization has other commitments to their families this year prompting the need to step back.

“Everyone’s lives are taking (us) in different directions,” Hedrick noted.

“Sometimes all of the preparations for a holiday burns out the holiday (for the GCC),” board member Brian Huotari added. “Which is a part of why I think we’re where we are at because it’s taking away from what we would have for our families.”

Although the current group must step down for individual reasons, they want to help and encourage a new group of people to take their places just as they did themselves in 2019.

According to Huotari, the GCC provided the annual Christams dinner for about 10 years prior to their change-ofhand three years ago.

“When I heard that the Christmas dinner wasn’t going to happen ... I just knew that I didn’t really have very much family around, so I thought this is a good opportunity,” Hedrick said.

Huotari echoed Hedrick’s remarks noting the opportunity to help other people have a memorable Christmas.

“There are people who don’t have the means or the desire to prepare a meal but yet they want to be able to meet with family,” Huotari said, noting some may not have a Christmas celebration without the GCC’s efforts every year. “It’s interesting going from table to table and (it’s) like you’re at a family dinner (and) you see a lot of people you don’t normally see.”

David Steinbron, another GCC board member, said the community Christmas dinner impacted his family when they first moved to Glendive in the fall of the year.

“My family thought (the community Christmas dinner) was one of the coolest things,” he said. “We were new to town but had a group of people from all over the community to celebrate the day with.”

Knowing how valuable the community Christmas dinner is, Hedrick noted the group wanted to announce its news as soon as possible to allow ample time for a new group to come forward and take charge.

“Because it’s a community event, the community needs to know about it and they need to be given the opportunity to know what’s going on because the money has come from the community,” Hedrick said. “It’s not ours, it’s the community’s and hopefully someone (else) will also feel that desire to do (the community) Christmas.”

The GCC’s goal is to find a new group by Thursday, Sept. 15 of this year.

“It would be really nice if somebody was spun-up by the middle of September because they would have plenty of time to plan, see what the process is and not be jammed into it the last minute,” Huotari said.

While organizing the community Christmas dinner takes a lot of work, Huotari noted that fundraising for it is not as difficult as it functions as a selffunding event through various donations throughout the year.

“The donations at the door always came in with enough that it would be able to provide for the following year,” Huotari noted.

Although looking to pass the baton to another group, current members expressed their willingness to help with preparations for the 2022 community Christmas dinner and even prepare what they call a “recipe for Christmas” as a detailed guideline for a new group to lead the effort.

If the GCC does not find someone to take over the community Christmas dinner this year, they will begin the dissolving process of their nonprofit organization and all of the remaining funds would get distributed to other local nonprofit organizations.

However, current GCC members are hopeful that new people will present themselves to lead the organization in the years to come.

“I would encourage anyone to get involved and take part in a rare thing, a community coming together as a family to celebrate one of the greatest days in history,” Steinbron noted. “You will not be disappointed and your heart will be full.”

“It’s an amazing Christmas,” Hedrick said.

Reach Brendan Heidner at news@rangerreview.com.

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