The Salida Community Center hosted a Fiesta Fundraiser before the Parade of Lights Friday, welcoming people downtown a little early for some Mexican food.
“We thought with all of the folks downtown, we’d try this and see if it works,” Paul Smith, the center’s board president, said.
The dinner, with adults eating for $10 and kids for $5, raised “at least $700,” Smith said, adding, “that was great.”
“It’s yummy,” Dawn Swift said about the fiesta’s food. “I’m glad we decided to make it down here for it.”
No kids, however, showed up for the fiesta, so two piñatas remain filled with candy.
Smith said they’d probably use one at the Community Christmas Dinner and might give the other one to Salida Recreation for one of the kids’ programs it holds at the community center.
Proceeds from the Fiesta Fundraiser will go towards two projects: the Salida Community Christmas Dinner and the center’s kids’ eyeglass program.
Last year, the free Christmas dinner served about 700 meals. “It’s a busy, busy place,” Smith said.
Salida’s two Rotary clubs and Monarch Community Outreach are the Christmas dinner’s primary sponsors, and Smith said they also get a lot of community donations for it.
The center’s eyeglass program pays for any school-age child to get an eye exam and a pair of eyeglasses.
Besides the annual pancake fundraiser during FIBArk, the Fiesta Fundraiser was the first one the center has held in a while.
The center’s major funding comes from renting out the building for events, Smith said.
“We try to make it an affordable place for the greater Chaffee County if they want to have a birthday party or something,” he said. “Being centrally located, it’s a huge resource, it really is.”
They also work to accommodate nonprofit organizations.
“If it’s a worthy nonprofit, we don’t want money to be a problem for those folks,” Smith said.
The community center has also taken over several events other organizations used to do, including the flag program on national holidays, the Easter Egg Hunt at Thonhoff Park and the Community Christmas Dinner.
On the first Wednesday of the month, the center holds food distribution days to help support people in need.
“We’d like to see more younger folks who are trying to makes ends meet,” Smith said, adding that they can show up the day of event and get registered with hardly any paperwork.
“There’s still a focus on senior activities, but we like to support a lot of other activities too,” Smith said.