ASPEN - Thanksgiving is a lot more fulfilling Thursday for 1,200 families from Aspen to Parachute thanks to Lift-Up and the donors who support it.
Lift-Up provided Thanksgiving food baskets to whoever 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.
The 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 with 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 go to Lift-Up's offices as many as three times per year.
Lift-Up's Web page says the organization 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. To find out more on how to help, go to www.liftup.org.