Granby’s Christmas Dinner for seniors returns after one-year hiatus |

Granby’s Christmas Dinner for seniors returns after one-year hiatus

by Tonya Bina
The Sky-Hi Daily News

Courtesy photo

Last year, they were thwarted by theft and forced to cancel the annual free Christmas Dinner dedicated to the seniors of Grand County.

But this year, “Holiday Helper” Jean Peoples said, they’re bringing the dinner event back.

For many area seniors, it’s considered the holiday party of the year.

“A lot of them don’t have family up here, it’s just something they look forward to,” Peoples said.

The holiday dinner is hosted by a core group of five volunteers, held annually at the Granby Community Center. The ladies who have come to be known as the “Holiday Helpers” line up sponsorships from area businesses, fundraisers, entertainment and Yuletide eats.

But last year’s fete was canceled when the group discovered that a closet in the community center containing gifts had been broken into and emptied.

They contacted the police, Peoples said, but the Grinch was never identified.

The incident set the ladies back about $750 ” enough to derail plans for their annual party.

“(Seniors) let us know they weren’t happy about it,” Peoples said.

The Grand County Council on Aging, in turn, put on a Kremmling event in its stead.

The five Holiday Helpers ” Peoples, Fran Neal, Kelli Yunker, Carole Nelson, and Betts Spellerberg, mostly from the Granby area ” then picked up the pieces for this year.

“There are others who also help two-to-three times a year,” Peoples said. “We call them the Elves.”

Peoples, who was a senior meals cook in the community center for 12 years and helped to start the annual celebration with Fran Smith of Grand Lake, has witnessed the dinner grow from 35 diners its first year in 1993, to about 150 guests two winters past.

She simply enjoys working with seniors and “seeing their faces light up” during a good party.

“We all care about the seniors,” she said, adding, “Now I’m one of them. I just turned 63.”

The Grand County Council on Aging has offered to help with senior transportation for the event this Sunday, Dec. 9.

Entertainment includes the “Mini Singers” grade-school performers, the Barbershop Quartet, Washboard Annie, and a puppet show performed by youngsters.

On top of that, “Every year we make sure we have a door prize for every senior,” Peoples said.

Starting at 1 p.m., a dinner complete with fried chicken, cold pork sandwiches, deli meat trays, potato salad, coleslaw, fruit salad, cookies and brownies will be served.

“We usually start planning in January for the whole year,” Peoples said, who added that this year will be her last as a key Holiday Helper organizer. Her husband has retired, and the couple plans to move.

“But I told the girls, they have to keep it going,” she said. “The seniors look forward to this. They promise they’ll keep it going.”

– Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail