GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - When Nancy Turner began wondering what to rename the annual Christmas Day dinner for the homeless, which she took on as organizer this year, you might say a little angel appeared with a thought.
Turner started referring to it as the "Angel Dinner," in honor of her good friend and former organizer of the Christmas meal for the homeless, Angel Cusick.
Cusick had hosted the dinner for the past several years, but was unable to do so this year due to illness, Turner explained.
"I said to her, 'You know what, I would love to do it,'" she recalled.
"I've seen a lot of homelessness, and I know it's important to help," Turner said. "My heart really goes out to these people. There are so many people in need, and this is one area where we don't need to judge."
Turner is expecting close to 100 people for the Angel Dinner, which will take place from 1-4 p.m. on Christmas Day, next Tuesday, at the First United Methodist Church, 824 Cooper Ave. in Glenwood Springs.
The event is being co-sponsored by LIFT-UP, which organizes the Extended Table meal program on weekday evenings throughout the year, and Stewart Title, where Turner is the marketing representative.
After her first husband died and while her children were growing up, Turner said it was always important to keep Christmas as a special day for family.
Turner is now re-married to Tom Jankovsky, a Garfield County commissioner and longtime Sunlight Mountain Resort partner and manager.
With two of her children now grown, and the youngest in high school, Turner said she ran the idea by her family before taking on the new duty.
"They all said that would be great, that I didn't need to do Christmas just for them anymore, and that I should put my efforts somewhere else," she said.
With her family's support, she decided to take the local holiday dinner for the homeless to a new level.
Food for the meal is being provided by dozens of volunteers and donors, including Silt-area rancher Kelly Couey, who is donating the pre-cooked beef. Prepared side dishes, pies and other desserts are being donated.
Aside from the meal, Turner also organized a huge drive to provide winter clothing, blankets, personal care items and other supplies for those who come to the Angel Dinner.
"Each year, more and more people have been showing up for the dinner, so I began asking people for donations besides the food," she said. "I'm never shy to ask for help."
Turner said she already has enough volunteers to help the day of the meal, but is still looking for some food, clothing and supply donations.
She's still in need of vegetable dishes, pies, cookies, warm cider, coffee and bottled water, as well as dinner plates, napkins and plastic wear place settings. Foil, gallon zip-close bags and heavy duty freezer bags are also needed so people can take leftovers home.
Turner said she has plenty of heavier coats, but could still use scarves, gloves, mittens, hand and feet warmers, socks and blankets, plus lip balm, tooth brushes and sample-size tooth paste and other personal care items.
Other supplies that could be donated include candles, pens and writing pads.
"We want to be able to provide more than just a meal," Turner said. "A lot of these people don't have a warm home and a warm bed to go to when they leave here."
For more information or to donate to the Christmas Angel Dinner, contact Nancy Turner at (970) 319-8073, or e-mail email@example.com.