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Eat spaghetti, help your neighbor

Jessica Cabe
jcabe@postindependent.com
The River Center's annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser drew about 300 people last year. Attendees are able to eat dinner, enjoy live music and bid on silent and live auction items, all benefiting the New Castle non-profit.
Courtesy photo |

If You Go...

Who: River Center

What: Spaghetti dinner and silent auction fundraiser

When: 5-8 p.m. on Friday

Where: Burning Mountain Park, downtown New Castle

How Much: Adults $10 in advance, $12 at park; kids $5 in advance, $7 at park

At the River Center in New Castle, the motto is “neighbors helping neighbors.” The organization offers about a dozen different service programs and utilizes hundreds of volunteers to help the communities of New Castle, Silt and Apple Tree in a variety of ways.

But the center’s annual spaghetti dinner may just offer the easiest and most fun opportunity to help out your neighbors. All you have to do is purchase a ticket, maybe bid on some silent auction items, and eat delicious spaghetti while mingling with the community, and you will have contributed to the cause.

“Come and eat, socialize, hear some music and have fun with the auctions,” said Heather Paulson, assistant director of River Center. “This will be our fourth year doing the spaghetti dinner, so it’s become an annual thing.”

The spaghetti dinner is the River Center’s biggest fundraiser of the year, bringing in about $8,000 on average. Paulson said she’d like to see that number at least double this year.

“We try to run on a very minimal budget here — all of our staff is part-time — so that we’re not taking too much of those funds,” Paulson said. “We’ve got our back-to-school drive that just started this week, and we spend anywhere between $2,500 and $3,000 out of our pocket on top of the donations that we get, just in order to meet the needs that the schools have. And then our Angel Tree we’re spending typically about $2,000 a year on. And you never know what the fundraisers are going to bring in.”

The River Center opened in 2009 when founder and director Lee Price saw needs in the community that he wanted to try to meet. Now, it runs 12 programs and coordinates with other nonprofits and schools in the valley to spread the most help.

“We don’t want to duplicate services within the valley, so we work closely with the other organizations,” Paulson said. “If they’re doing something better, we’ll refer our clients to them. Sometimes we’ll work together to meet a need.”

The River Center’s school outreach programs include: Totes of Hope, providing 200 bags of food to four schools every week of the school year to be given to children in need; the back-to-school supply drive, giving supplies to five local schools in New Castle and Silt; the winter coat drive, providing hundreds of coats to individuals who need them; the summer food program, providing a bag of food for the children attending the Youth for Christ Sports Camp; and Angel Tree, giving Christmas gifts to almost 300 children who may not have gotten one otherwise.

The center also has a Life Assistance program, which provides financial help to families or individuals who’ve fallen on hard times (it helped about 180 people last year); it hosts senior luncheons every Wednesday; it has a handyman team of volunteers that helps with fix-ups in the community; and it has a community garden that provides fresh food to LIFT-UP, River Center clients and participating gardeners.

Paulson said the spaghetti dinner and silent auction fundraiser offers an easy way for community members to help the River Center while having a fun, relaxing night. Plus, the auction has something for everyone, including hotel stays, Rockies tickets, golf passes, ski passes, tickets to the Denver Zoo, photography sitting fees, a landscaping gift certificate, memberships for Two Rivers Crossfit, tickets to the Vaudeville, wine baskets, jewelry and pottery.

“And we’re still working on it this week and trying to get a little bit more,” Paulson said.

The event will feature a band, and some of the silent auction items will be sold in a live auction.

“We’ll kind of disperse those throughout the evening and make it a little more fun and engaging so it’s not just looking at the silent auction, eating and mingling,” she said. “But it’s a really relaxing time to just come and socialize. We had around 300 people attend last year, so we’d like to see at least those numbers again.”


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