Close to 200 volunteers put together food baskets in Avon |

Close to 200 volunteers put together food baskets in Avon

Lauren Glendenning
Vail Correspondent
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
NWS Xmas Baskets 3 DT 12-19-09

AVON, Colorado – The holiday season truly is about giving – at least for about 200 local volunteers who put together food baskets for needy families Saturday.

Volunteers gathered at Avon Elementary School for a morning all about the holiday spirit – they walked through the cafeteria packing boxes full of Christmas dinner items, such as green beans, stuffing and gift certificates for turkeys, so needy families could have food on the dinner table this Christmas.

The volunteers packed 400 boxes at Avon Elementary and another 300 boxes at United Methodist Church in Eagle, said Tsu Wolin-Brown, the Vail Valley Salvation Army’s executive director. It’s the most food baskets the Salvation Army has ever put together at Christmas in the 25 years it has done food baskets locally, she said.

“It’s also the most volunteers we’ve ever had,” Wolin-Brown said. “This is huge today.”

Volunteers came from local schools and churches and from local groups such as SOS Outreach and the Bright Future Foundation. Other volunteers continued personal traditions of helping out others during the holidays.

Stewart Kleinman brought his daughters, Lauren, 6, and Alison, 8, for the second straight year. He said volunteering for the cause teaches his children values and about giving.

“It’s been a rough year for people, so it’s important to help out,” Kleinman said. “It’s good for the soul.”

Joy Dirkes has been packing the holiday food baskets for three years. She said she does it because Christmas is about sharing and peace.

“[Packing the food baskets] gives more meaning to Christmas,” Dirkes said.

Pastor Ethan Moore, of Trinity Church, said if the love of Christ means anything, it mean’s helping people.

“This is what it’s all about,” Moore said.

Brianna Johnson, 18, and Alyssa Evans, 18, both seniors at Battle Mountain High School, are heavily involved with volunteering because of the National Honor Society at school. They particularly enjoyed packing food baskets, though, because they could see firsthand how they were helping people.

“When you give money instead of your time, you don’t always know exactly where it’s going,” Johnson said.

Evans said she took pleasure in knowing their work would directly impact people in the community, and that made it special, she said.

For some people, volunteering is a way to give something without spending money.

Ines Amuchastegui, an Edwards Elementary teacher from Argentina, is far away from her family and wanted to do something for people locally.

“Money has been short lately, so I thought I could give with my time,” she said.

Whatever the reasons, Wolin-Brown was thrilled with the turnout. With more and more families in need locally, both because of population growth here and because of the economy, the Salvation Army needed the help more than ever.

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