In 1976, Summit County local Tim McClure founded the Summit Recycling Project, which he envisioned as a recycling program for the county. He got it going with his own truck, driving around and gathering the recycling material himself.
Over the years, his project became the High Country Conservation Center, a growing nonprofit organization with a multitude of environmentally related programs, from recycling to energy conservation and sustainable food production.
Sadly, McClure perished in an avalanche accident in 1985. His name lives on, however, not only as founder of HC3 but in the annual event that raises money for all of its programs.
This is the 25th year of the Tim McClure Benefit Dinner, which, according to multiple sources, is “the” fundraising event for the organization.
“(It) raises funds for all of our programs,” said Jen Santry, community programs director at HC3. “We now have three focus areas that have expanded from our original focus, which was recycling. Now we’re also looking at energy efficiency and also sustainable food.”
HC3’s energy-related programs include energy audit programs for businesses and homes. Its food programs include community gardens throughout the county and composting and conservation education at the local schools. HC3 also has a recycling hotline with information about how to recycle in Summit County, and it steps in to help turn local events into zero-waste affairs.
“It’s a great fundraiser for everything, whether you’re a gardener or interested in renewable energy. It all goes to support it,” said Cassidy Callahan, HC3 community programs coordinator.
Last year, according to Callahan, the benefit brought in $23,000. This year, in celebration of its quarter-century-long run, the fundraising goal is $25,000.
The event consists of dinner at The Maggie restaurant in Breckenridge, with live entertainment, including music from High Five and belly dancing. A silent auction begins when the doors open at 6:30 p.m. and includes gift certificates, season passes, jewelry, winter gear and stays at a variety of lodgings, among other items, all of which were donated by local businesses.
“We always have new and different items in the silent auction. … People who have been there know what they can expect,” said Callahan.
In the past, the atmosphere has been lively and family-friendly, and looks to be the same again this year.
“It’s just a really great time, really fun time to come and meet all kinds of people that are interested in conservation,” Santry said. “It’s a lot of like-minded people that have those basic interests in the environment and a sustainable community. You get to socialize, listen to great music, eat good food and the whole time you’re supporting a great cause.”
HC3 board member Jen Cawley agreed.
“There are tons of locals that come, and it’s really fun because it seems like every single person that you talk to has some little story to say how they were connected to Tim McClure, whether they sold him their first pairs of skis or they were friends with him or they helped him in the beginning with the recycling or whatever. Everybody tells you what their connection is, which is cool.”
Having community support also means a lot, she added.
“We really appreciate everybody who does come out year after year, appreciate the support, and hope that they feel they’re contributing and that their attendance and support is worthwhile.”
“There are tons of locals that come, and it’s really fun because it seems like every single person that you talk to has some little story to say how they were connected to Tim McClure.”
HC3 board member