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Help lift locals up

Aspen, CO Colorado

One thing that stands out about life in the Roaring Fork Valley, beyond the obvious mountains, rivers and fresh air, is the way locals help one another out. If ever you’ve found yourself in need, then you’ve probably experienced the kindness of friends and acquaintances that you never would have expected.

Nowadays there are more locals in need than perhaps ever before. Following several years of unprecedented economic growth and population growth, the local economy has contracted dramatically over the last few months, and numerous people find themselves out of work. Local social service agencies and nonprofits report big increases in the number of people asking for help.

During the holidays, The Aspen Times chose to throw its support behind Garfield County-based LIFT-UP during 2009. Of all the nonprofits in our area, LIFT-UP is the best-equipped and the most experienced to support those who have lost jobs or income during the ongoing recession.

Earlier this week, we published a story about the surprising uptick in requests for aid that LIFT-UP has seen in late 2008 and early 2009. The organization’s Carbondale food pantry used to fill grocery orders for fewer than 10 families on the three days per week it was open, according to Executive Director Mike Powell, but those numbers have swelled in recent weeks to between 20 and 40 orders per day.

To people who fill out some required paperwork, LIFT-UP provides bags and boxes filled with canned fruits and vegetables, pasta, rice, beans, meat and other non-perishables. Typically there is enough to feed a family for three days. The recipients are limited to four such visits per year.

All of these requests, of course, create more work for LIFT-UP’s volunteers. And the need isn’t limited to Carbondale; demand for groceries has jumped in Glenwood Springs and western Garfield County as well, though not as dramatically as Carbondale.

“We are seeing an across-the-board increase in demand for services,” Powell said Thursday.

So how can you help?

Volunteers are needed to staff the Carbondale food pantry from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Anyone interested may call Jody Wilson during pantry hours at 963-1778 or on her cell phone at 319-9017. According to Powell, the organization is willing to expand pantry hours if a volunteer or group of volunteers would make a long-term commitment.

LIFT-UP will also accept canned food, fresh fruit and vegetables, dry goods and frozen meat for distribution to the needy. The food can be delivered to the Carbondale pantry (385 S. 2nd St.) during regular pantry hours, or to the Glenwood pantry (1004 Grand Ave.), which is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Cash contributions are also welcome, and can be used to buy groceries for distribution.

Anything from a truckful of non-perishables to a simple can of corn is welcome. For more information, call the main Glenwood office at 945-2005.


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