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Monthly breakfasts remain important to rural community

The monthly Collins breakfast gatherings were once held in the Collins American Legion building. The addition to the community center along Main Street prompted the breakfasts to be held there instead. Submitted photo
The monthly Collins breakfast gatherings were once held in the Collins American Legion building. The addition to the community center along Main Street prompted the breakfasts to be held there instead. Submitted photo
Former Collins American Legion members John Tiffany, left, and Toppy Lillard began what would become a regular tradition in their community back in 1982 - the Collins community breakfasts. The inaugural breakfast was held as part of Collins’ centennial celebration and has been held on a monthly basis, October through June, ever since. Submitted photo
Former Collins American Legion members John Tiffany, left, and Toppy Lillard began what would become a regular tradition in their community back in 1982 - the Collins community breakfasts. The inaugural breakfast was held as part of Collins’ centennial celebration and has been held on a monthly basis, October through June, ever since. Submitted photo

In a small community like Collins, any excuse to get together to support the betterment of the community is a good one. For the past 32 years, Collins residents have gathered the first Sunday of the month to eat a hot breakfast, contribute to a local organization and enjoy each other’s company.

The Collins American Legion started holding the breakfasts in 1982, the year of the town’s centennial celebration. Toppy Lillard and John Tiffany, both Legion members who have since passed on, spearheaded the inaugural breakfast. The Legion decided to hold the breakfasts on a monthly basis, October through June, as a way to raise funds for their organization. The breakfasts were held in the American Legion building, which would later become the Collins Area Community Center, said Lois Reitveld of Collins.

Reitveld moved to Collins in 1996 and soon became a regular attendee of the breakfasts. After Toppy passed away in 2005, Reitveld was approached by the city and asked if she wanted to take over the responsibility of organizing the breakfasts. She said she enjoys helping and talking to people, as well as keeping busy, which made the monthly breakfast responsibility a good fit for her.

Since the Legion was no longer going to host the breakfasts each time, Reitveld began lining up other groups in the community to host the breakfasts. Over the years, a number of organizations have taken turns putting on the breakfasts. Those organizations have included the American Legion, Collins Lions Club, Friends of the Library, Maxwell Mother’s Club, Parks and Trees Committee, Cub Scouts and church youth groups. The hosting organization gets to keep the proceeds from the breakfast.

“You didn’t make a lot of money,” but as long as 50 people showed up, the organizations would reap a profit, Reitveld said.

Reitveld was in charge of purchasing the food, a majority of which came from local businesses. She would also get everything set up in the kitchen and help serve the meal. The menu typically consists of biscuits and gravy, sausage, eggs and pancakes, along with drinks.

“It’s just something to keep in our little community because there’s just not much here,” Reitveld said of the breakfasts.

Prior to the addition to the community center being completed in 2006, the breakfasts were held in the American Legion building. Reitveld said the community center offers a much larger space to host the breakfasts. Throughout the years, as many as 100 people attended, including the October when the remodeled community center opened. It is mainly people from Collins or Maxwell who attend, though some have come from as far away as Nevada and Altoona. Reitveld said attendance has declined in recent years due to people moving or passing away. She said the younger people who have moved to Collins generally do not attend the breakfasts.

This year, Reitveld retired from organizing the breakfasts. She hopes the breakfasts will remain a part of the small town.

“I just hope and pray it continues,” Reitveld said. “Getting young people involved is the key.”

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