Thanksgiving is a lot more fulfilling today for 1,200 families from Aspen to Parachute thanks to LIFT-UP and the donors that support it, and community residents have another chance on Friday to support the organization.
LIFT-UP provided Thanksgiving food baskets to all who said they were in need of a helping hand. All they had to do was register in advance. The food baskets were distributed at LIFT-UP's food pantries and other locations Saturday through Monday.
"It's all done by volunteers," said LIFT-UP Executive Director Mike Powell.
And on Friday, two Glenwood Springs businesses will be donating funds to LIFT-UP based on their sales that day.
Ken Robinson, owner of Roaring Fork Liquors in Glenwood Springs, said all gross profits from Friday sales will be donated to LIFT-UP. Robinson said a similar drive in 2011 yielded $2,800 for LIFT-UP.
Glenwood Springs Subway shops will donate $1 to $2 for every sub sandwich sold that day.
"I know that so many of our neighbors are in some dire economic circumstances." said Robinson. "I encourage everyone who can to give to a charity of their choice. Whether it's to LIFT-UP through us or by other means, please help your less fortunate neighbors."
LIFT-UP's Thanksgiving food baskets included canned vegetables and fruits, bread, dessert and a voucher for turkey or other meat at City Markets in the region.
Powell said the number of people who registered was down a little compared to last year. That's the same trend the nonprofit organization has found at its food pantries in Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, New Castle, Rifle and Parachute.
"We seem to be down slightly for the year," Powell said in reference to the number of people served. "I don't know if people have left the valley, found work or what."
Despite the drop, LIFT-UP is facing demand significantly higher than pre-recession levels. The number of people who needed aid soared 300 percent in 2009, Powell said.
Although the number of people served has dropped a bit in 2012, LIFT-UP is giving away more food. Its board of directors changed its policy to allow people to pick up four days worth of food rather than three. Recipients can come to LIFT-UP's offices up to three times per year.
LIFT-UP's web page says it has served 18,605 people in 5,907 families from January through October this year. Volunteers contributed 11,438 hours and distributed 39,605 bags of food.
The organization will distribute Christmas food baskets as well, so demand for food and cash contributions is at a high mark. To find out more on how to help, go to www.liftup.org/.