Giving LIFT-UP a hand
Well, it’s an odd holiday season. Christmas Day is tomorrow, and the usual holiday cheer is in notably short supply this year, thanks to a ongoing tide of bad economic news and a recession that pundits compare frequently to the Great Depression.
No matter who you are, this Christmas will almost certainly be different than others. Even Aspen, the allegedly recession-proof resort, is feeling the effects. Christmas-New Year’s bookings are much lower than usual, construction activity has scaled back markedly and nearly everyone is expecting an economically sluggish ski season. Many locals have already lost their jobs, and more are bound to become unemployed before we see a recovery.
With those people in mind, and all the others who have been stung by this downturn, The Aspen Times has decided to throw its support behind Garfield County-based LIFT-UP for the upcoming year.
Of all the deserving humanitarian-oriented nonprofits in the Roaring Fork Valley, we believe LIFT-UP is best-equipped to help the most people in times of widespread trouble and joblessness. The organization has offices and food pantries in towns and cities from Carbondale to Parachute, and has historically served people in the upper valley as well. The organization provides everything from emergency food to gasoline vouchers, bus passes and prescriptions to people who can demonstrate a need. LIFT-UP also runs the well-known Extended Table Soup Kitchen, which serves hot meals year-round in Glenwood Springs.
Established in 1982 to handle the influx of people during the oil shale boom, LIFT-UP was up and running for the subsequent bust, and has continued its work ever since. The organization provides something of a barometer, in and of itself, for Western Slope economic trends. According to the organization’s website, requests for services are up 37 percent since July, compared to the first six months of 2008.
During the same period, the amount of food given out has jumped by 41 percent.
The Extended Table recently had its largest month ever in July, with 1,106 meals served.
These are not signs of a recession-proof local economy. In fact, they are signs that more people need help. Locally, LIFT-UP is where they turn, so LIFT-UP needs help to do its work.
“I think people like the fact that LIFT-UP is local and not a big national charity with big overhead,” says Executive Director Mike Powell. “The folks they’re helping might live in their neighborhood, or be one of their employees or customers ” the person next to them in line at the post office or store might be someone they’ve helped through LIFT-UP. It’s a place where the community really takes care of each another.”
We agree with Powell, so we’re helping LIFT-UP. As we did with Habitat for Humanity in 2008, we’ll match any cash donations that our employees make to LIFT-UP, and we’ll pay any employee who volunteers with the organization for a day. We’ll also donate advertising to LIFT-UP throughout 2009.
So that’s what we’re doing to spread a bit of cheer during this unusual holiday season. We hope our readers will consider a monetary donation or in-kind gift to LIFT-UP or another charity that helps people in need. They’re out there, in numbers much greater than past years.
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A recent survey of Aspen residents shows that people are happy here, feel safe but are financially insecure.