The 2009 Cowboy Christmas fundraiser was winding down Saturday night, and Boys & Girls Club of Craig executive director Dana Duran was getting ready to go home and put her 1-year-old daughter to sleep.
As several guests gathered their coats and headed out into the cold, Duran bade them goodnight and thanked them for their contributions.
One man stopped her in the hallway and handed her a slip of paper.
As she walked back to her office, she unfolded a check for $1,000.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” she said about the several times that people have handed her donations to the club. “It’s like saying, ‘Here, we believe in you.’”
The fifth annual event brought more than 200 guests to the transformed gym in the Boys & Girls Club and raised about $28,000. Decorated with white tablecloths, wine glasses and Christmas lights, the room exuded the festive and giving atmosphere of the event.
After a buffet dinner provided by Brother’s Custom Processing, a silent auction featuring items donated by local businesses closed, and a live auction began.
Dale Kruse, owner of Kruse Builders, began a friendly bidding war with his friend, Moe Ortega, for a golf package for four at Catamount Ranch and Club in Steamboat Springs.
Kruse ended up paying $3,400 for the package, which was worth less than $1,000.
“I only golf a few times a year,” he laughed. “It doesn’t matter that it’s golf, because I’m not even a golfer. But, it’s not what you’re getting, it’s what you’re giving that matters.”
He said the past three years he has bid on and won the same package for a few thousand dollars.
“It just feels good,” he said.
Ortega wasn’t without his own successes, as he won a four-person package to a golf course in Moab, Utah, for $2,000.
“It’s nice to get out and see all the Craig people,” he said. “It’s for the kids’ future. This is such a good place for kids to go.”
While the event was for an adult crowd, there were no shortage of reminders of what their efforts and donations were ultimately for the children and students of Moffat County.
High school students who are leaders and mentors at the club greeted guests and waited on tables.
Snowmen made from paper plates by one of the art classes at the club dangled from the ceiling in the lobby.
The Christmas lights in the gym didn’t glow red and green, but twinkled in Moffat County blue and white.
But one of the most important reminders was in 17-year-old Carina Meza’s eyes as she accepted her award for club Youth of Year.
Now a junior in high school, Meza has worked at the club since she was a freshmen, and was in tears as she spoke of what the club has done for her in her life and how honored she was to receive the award.
She smiled and wiped away her tears as she left the microphone to a standing ovation.
Duran could only sing praises of all the people who came out to support the program that helped shape the lives of people like Meza, who wants to someday teach preschool.
“She gives her heart in everything she does,” Duran said. “She makes the world a better place.”
Duran admitted that with the shape of the national economy, she had been worried that the event wouldn’t yield as much success as previous years.
“I feel really good about it,” she said. “We had more silent auction items than ever this year, so we had good local support from businesses. It’s just a testament to the strength of this community and the need for this club.”