Jose Duarte, left, jokes with two girls at the Boys & Girls Club Tuesday afternoon. Duarte will be honored with the Boys & Girls Club youth of the year award for his commitment to the club Saturday at this year's Cowboy Christmas Fundraiser.

Photo by Darian Warden

Jose Duarte, left, jokes with two girls at the Boys & Girls Club Tuesday afternoon. Duarte will be honored with the Boys & Girls Club youth of the year award for his commitment to the club Saturday at this year's Cowboy Christmas Fundraiser.

Craig Boys & Girls Club gears up for Cowboy Christmas

Club to honor community members during annual fundraiser

To Go...

What: The Boys & Girls Club of Craig Cowboy Christmas Fundraiser

When: 5:30 p.m. - 10 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Boys & Girls Club, 1324 East Highway 40, Craig

Cost: $35 per ticket

— Tickets are available at The Boys & Girls Club, the Craig Daily Press and Spirit Pass

While the Cowboy Christmas fundraiser has become an annual event benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of Craig, organizers say this year's incarnation promises to be as entertaining as ever, with dinner, dancing, live entertainment, an auction and poker.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Boys & Girls Club, 1324 East Highway 40. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m.

The event is the club’s biggest fundraiser and executive director Dana Duran said she hopes the event raises around $40,000.

What began in 2005 as a masquerade ball has transformed into an annual Christmas tradition drawing nearly 300 people each year.

Tickets cost $35 and Duran said they sell out nearly every year.

“It’s a good chance to support our local club. Every dollar raised stays right here,” Duran said. “This is the really big one that makes the club possible.”

Tickets are available at the Boys & Girls Club, the Craig Daily Press or Spirit Pass.

Duran said the band 4 2 Play will be performing and they’ve received some really great auction items.

“The community is so supportive of the Boys & Girls Club," Duran said. "This is our biggest opportunity to show that."

Duran said the evening is a lot of fun, with fun people, good music and good food.

Some auction items include different date nights in Craig and Steamboat, a Santa visit, a trip to a fishing lodge in Minnesota, smart wool gear and a cake by Lindsay Porter.

“There’s a good array of items. It’s a good chance to get some Christmas shopping done and support a good cause at the same time,” Duran said.

Duran said the money is used for costs the club has while providing supporting adults and a caring environment for the children it serves.

The evening is also a time to appreciate the work and contributions of those in the community.

Duran said the club will recognize those who have been significant to the club and the community over the course of the year.

The Boys & Girls Club business of the year is Yampa Valley Bank. The bank helps sponsor the holidays at the club and is currently fundraising to help get the necessary funds to keep the club open for two weeks during the holidays.

“They’re incredible in their reach in the community," Duran said. "They know who you are and they care about the community. They’re an exemplary business."

The Boys & Girls Club youth of the year award goes to 16-year-old Jose Duarte. Duarte’s worked for the club for a year and a half, but has been going ever since he was 10 or 11.

“He’s a really great role model and mentor here in the club,” Duran said. “He reaches out to every kid, even the shy ones that don’t always jump in right away. He’s patient, understanding and a really good listener.”

The Boys & Girls Club volunteer of the year is Zack Allen, principal at Sunset Elementary School. Allen spearheaded the literacy program over the summer, coming in once or twice a week to read to students and engage them in an activity.

Allen also helped secure a bus so students could go to the homecoming parade, and facilitates the work on the SPARK program between the club and the school district.

“The kids really looked at him like a hero,” Duran said. “It’s really neat to see him help them love learning and reading. I don’t know what we would have done without him this summer.”

This year, Duran said the club is honoring people of the year, which includes anyone who has donated to the club over the past year.

“It’s all made possible because of the community. Whether it’s a $1, $10, $100, $1,000 or $10,000, every donation makes a difference,” Duran said. “We wanted to recognize those people. It’s not the amount that matters, it’s the donating that matters.”

Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or dwarden@craigdailypress.com

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