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Fundraiser aims for cultural understanding

Nicole Frey
NWS Taste of Berry Creek1 SM 2-10
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EDWARDS – The women had worked late into the night at the Berry Creek Middle School kitchen. At 10 p.m., they were still preparing the food they would serve the next day for the school’s largest annual fundraiser, a Taste of Berry Creek. They chopped chilies, onions, vegetables and meats which they simmered into stews, rolled into taquitos and folded into enchiladas. The women arrived again the next day to cook up a storm. By the late afternoon, savory smells wafted from the kitchen, enticing anyone who happened to pass by.

These mothers, grandmothers and aunts toiled not for themselves but for the benefit of the children who attend the middle school. Last year, the fundraiser earned thousands of dollars, and 100 percent of it went to the children – to buying bilingual dictionaries and starting a culinary program. “It’s a satisfaction for me as a mother to do this,” said Anna Ramirez, who has a child at Berry Creek.Ramirez, along with Emilia Perez and Hortensia Garcia, were some of the last women standing in the kitchen preparing platter after platter of steaming entrees that others whisked away. “We need more enchiladas and more green chili,” came a cry as one woman burst into the kitchen. She was handed a huge casserole dish of chicken enchiladas smothered with cheese, which she then wound through hordes of children and adults to deliver to the serving area.

The Berry Creek lobby was alive with activity. Families filled themselves with the home-cooked food and went back for more while being serenaded by the school’s bands, which performed in the adjoining auditorium. Others browsed the silent auction of more than 120 items, which included unique prizes like gift certificates for math tutoring, an outing to the movies with a teacher, and “how to roll a kayak” lessons. In a school that boasts a diverse mix of Hispanic and Anglo children, a Taste of Berry Creek offered an easy, affordable way for everyone to get together, said Principal Dianna Hulbert.”This is increasing our cultural understanding,” Hulbert said. “If we didn’t have this, we’d never meet.”The inspiration for a Taste of Berry Creek came from watching the same 20 parents burn out on fundraiser after fundraiser, Hulbert said. There was a snowshoe shuffle, a golf tournament and bake sales every other week.



“Forty percent of our students are Mexican, and their parents don’t want to snowshoe,” said Bonnie Vesey, the president of the Berry Creek Parent Teacher Association. “They want to socialize and this is how they do it – with food. We’re reaching out to our parents’ talents this way.”After eating, sixth-graders Elizabeth Munos and Lluviay Zapata escaped their parents and huddled on the bleachers in the school’s gym immersed in girl talk. Around them chaos bloomed as children of all ages shot pool, danced, played video games and tether ball, but the girls weren’t interested. “We don’t really like the games,” Munos said. “We came for the food.”To PTA member Debbie Robbins, it doesn’t matter what gets the kids and parents together as long as it works. And a Taste of Berry Creek works, she said.

“This involves everybody, not just a core group,” Robbins said. “The kids feel the ownership, and the parents enjoy it too.” Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or nfrey@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado


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