Demand rises for Basalt Thanksgiving aid effort | AspenTimes.com

Demand rises for Basalt Thanksgiving aid effort

BASALT – The recession is expected to increase demand on a program that typically distributes food fit for a Thanksgiving feast to 75 to 90 midvalley families per year who are facing tough times, according to organizers.

“The demand was up last year. There’s no reason to think it won’t be up again,” said Marie Gasau, minister of the Basalt Community United Methodist Church and an organizer of a program called Basalt Cares.

Food is already being collected for the effort and there are plenty of opportunities for midvalley residents to help out. The Basalt Boy Scouts held their annual food drive last weekend. Items that are appropriate for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner went to Basalt Cares and other food went to Lift-Up, which runs food banks farther downvalley.

On Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 21-22, students in Basalt High School’s Key Club will collect food outside of City Market in Basalt. They will distribute fliers to shoppers entering the store to explain what items are sought. The food will be collected as shoppers leave.

Gasau said the organizers hope to collect at least 90 turkeys of varying sizes. City Market has donated freezer space to store them until shortly before distribution.

Volunteers will gather at the Methodist Church, 0167 Holland Hills Road outside of Basalt, at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25, to assemble the food boxes and distribute them. It’s a sight to see, said Gasau, with food scattered across the church pews.

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“It’s an absolute mad house for a couple of hours,” she said.

Boxes of food are sized to match the needs of specific families. The boxes are offered to families that are receiving food stamps or qualify for free or reduced price hot lunches at the Basalt school system. Boxes typically include a turkey, dressing mix, gravy mix, canned fruits and vegetables, cranberry sauce and a frozen pumpkin pie. Arrangements are made in advance to make sure the families receiving the boxes will have someone at home on the day before Thanksgiving.

Gasau said the volunteers distributing the food reap as many benefits as the recipients, albeit of a different kind. The receiving families often cannot thank the distributors enough, which is often a moving experience.

“The interaction is amazing,” Gasau said. “[Volunteers] come back and say – can I tell you what just happened?”

Basalt Cares is coordinated by the churches in the Colleagues in Christ Ministerial Alliance. Those members are the Basalt, Carbondale and Thomasville Community United Methodist churches; the St. Mary’s of the Crown Catholic Church in Carbondale and the St. Vincent Catholic Church in Basalt; and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Basalt.

Volunteers who aren’t affiliated with the churches are encouraged to lend a hand. The effort was started by the Jack Gredig family, formerly of Emma, years ago. It grew to the point where the help from the churches was required.

“It’s a whole community effort now,” Gasau said. “We can’t face issues if we aren’t aware of them.”

Volunteers can contact Cindy Wilson at 379-7523 to make arrangements. People who want to donate food are encouraged to go by City Market between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday and between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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