The annual Harvest Dinner at Challis Community Church was once again successful, raising more than last year, with about 150 people served and donations for dinner and raffle ticket sales raising about $1,800.

That’s about $300 more than last year. Funds this year will go to Community Church operations, maintenance and keeping the doors open another year, organizer Madge Yacomella said.

As with last year, there was no set price per plate. People were encouraged to give whatever they thought fair. Dinner is always free, even if people can’t afford to pay.

As they came through the front door into the bell tower, Yacomella encouraged people to ring the newly fixed bell, which is more than 100 years old. Proceeds from last year’s dinner were intended to pay to fix the bell, but it turned out to be an easy fix by volunteers, so those funds have been dedicated to restoring the bell tower to its original condition.

Up to 25 volunteers helped with the dinner with two days of baking, food preparation, turkey carving, cooking, dish washing and cleanup. One turkey was baked in an oven up the East Fork of the Salmon River. This year there was again a group of the “usual suspects,” volunteers who have favorite jobs they come back for year after year and guard somewhat jealously. There were several new volunteers, one of junior high age who, once she learned how to make gravy, was quick to point out any mistakes she saw in later batches. Some mistakes tasted good. Yacomella noted that volunteers mixed some ingredients meant for coleslaw into the apple salad, but that made the salad better than ever.

Head cook Helen Winegarner took leftovers to the Challis senior citizen center. Special thanks go to Winegarner and Ike Funkhouser, adjutant of the Challis American Legion, who lends extra tables, makes Legion Hall ovens available to bake turkeys and more, Yacomella said.

Yacomella contributes her famous homemade rolls to the dinner each year, spreads the word about the event and does whatever else she notices needs doing.

This year’s raffle items included two homemade pillows made by Yacomella, two gift baskets, two floral arrangements and a gift box. Food items included home-canned goodies like jam.

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