People help LIFT-UP during the holidays, but its work is year-round |

People help LIFT-UP during the holidays, but its work is year-round

Post Independent/Kelley Cox Jeffrene Fowler, operations manager for LIFT-UP, takes inventory of the angel tree gifts collected so far in Rifle. The collection deadline has been extended to Tuesday, Dec. 13. More than 100 angels remain unclaimed to date.

It doesn’t matter how good the economy is doing – there will always be people who need some assistance – and that’s where LIFT-UP of Garfield County steps in.People naturally give more and donate during the holiday season, but the poor need to be fed and clothed year-round.LIFT-UP has applied for funds from the second annual Holiday Fund drive, sponsored by the Post Independent, The Citizen Telegram in Rifle, The Valley Journal in Carbondale and the Two Rivers Community Foundation. Money is collected through fund-raising efforts in the community, and through the newspapers and the foundation.

For 23 years, LIFT-UP of Garfield County has been around to give that help – through Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets, a soup kitchen five days a week, food pantries and a thrift store for clothing.”We pass out a lot of food from Carbondale to Parachute,” said Mike Powell, who has been the executive director of LIFT-UP for the past three years. “We also have a soup kitchen in Glenwood Springs throughout the year, and we expect to top out at 11,000 meals served by the end of this year.”The majority of people utilizing the soup kitchen are homeless, while most of those visiting the food pantries are working people who just need some extra help.”For some of our LIFT-UP clients, a flat tire is a (financial) disaster,” Powell said.

The nonprofit agency is faith-based, but that is not a requirement for receiving assistance.”We don’t preach, and we don’t ask anyone to convert,” Powell said. “Our faith is what drives us, but LIFT-UP is here to help.”Along with the holiday food baskets, the agency provides Christmas presents for the kids through its Angel Tree program, in which donors can pick a name with a specific age and gender and leave a gift for the recipient.”In the last couple of years, we gave presents to more than 4,000 kids,” Powell said.

LIFT-UP will also provide gas vouchers for those who need to get to a job interview or a doctor’s appointment. They also assist those who are stranded by providing travel vouchers to the nearest major city.With a growing population in the valley and an increased demand on services, LIFT-UP is in the process of constructing a new 7,500-square-foot building at 800 Railroad Ave. in Rifle (the site of the old John Haines car dealership), which will serve as its new administrative headquarters.Construction has already begun, and completion is expected in the first quarter of 2006.For more information about LIFT-UP and its services or to make a contribution, call the Glenwood Springs office at 945-2005.

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