Increased holiday need gives Garfield County volunteerism a lift |

Increased holiday need gives Garfield County volunteerism a lift

John Stroud
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

An increase in demand this year for LIFT-UP’s food pantry services in Garfield County and Aspen, and for the annual holiday food basket drive, has also resulted in an increase in volunteer need.

The volunteer-based poverty relief organization had logged 16,965 volunteer hours through the first 10 months of 2009 – not even including the busy run-up to the holiday season – according to LIFT-UP Executive Director Mike Powell.

That number surpasses the 12,807 hours for the entire year in 2008, with the busy holiday season still ahead.

“Our volunteers are really the heart of the organization, and LIFT-UP could never do all that it does without them,” said Powell. “We can always use more volunteers, and just a few hours a month can help a lot.

“The volunteer numbers are a measure of LIFT-UP’s volume and effectiveness during a demanding year, but they only tell part of the story,” he added. “The real story is in the lives of the thousands of people these numbers represent.”

That includes those who have donated food, conducted a food drive or made a financial contribution, volunteered their time and energy, and the many families who have been assisted with food to eat during these difficult economic times.

LIFT-UP reported last week that its annual Thanksgiving food distribution program for the needy in Garfield County saw a 30 percent increase over last year.

Demand in general at LIFT-UP’s food pantries throughout the county has tripled this year, and attendance at the nightly Extended Table free meal program in Glenwood Springs is also up 30 percent.

LIFT-UP has served an average of 1,942 families per month this year at its six pantry locations, compared to 632 families per month in 2008.

The Extended Table has served as many as 1,375 meals in a single month, and is averaging 1,255 meals per month.

Powell noted that the community has responded to the greater need with increased donations of food and in-kind items, as well as volunteer time.

“People have stepped up and taken care of the need,” he said. “We’re always looking for a few more volunteers at our food pantries, especially in Glenwood Springs, New Castle and Rifle.”

Weekdays, in particular, are when some extra help is needed.

Powell said he has noticed an increase in volunteers among people who are out of work themselves.

“There are a lot of people with time on their hands, who figure if they’re not working they might as well help out,” he said.

To find out about volunteer opportunities with LIFT-UP, call the Glenwood location at 945-2005, in New Castle at 984-2115, or in Rifle at 625-4888.

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