How the Hickory House gave back | AspenTimes.com

How the Hickory House gave back

Dear Editor:

As 2008 comes to a close, and the fast pace of the holidays slows, I reflect back on the highlights of this holiday season.

While we all watched the economy crumble around us, I witnessed an Aspen that chose to give back generously. As the stock market lost 40 percent of its value, Aspen donated even more back to our local charities by generously giving time, in-kind gifts, and what cash they could afford to part with. This was most apparent on Thanksgiving Day at the Hickory House.

While a free Thanksgiving dinner at the Hickory House is an Aspen tradition dating back more than 20 years, 2008 was the first year I’ve had the honor of participating. The Buddy Program was the lucky recipient of all donations made by diners as they arrived; as event director for The Buddy Program I wanted to thank everyone for their generosity. Admittedly, I expected to greet mostly individuals working on Thanksgiving with little time to spare for a meal, or folks alone for the holidays and looking for warmth and companionship, let alone a plate full of turkey and stuffing. Yet it was me who was greeted, and with open arms, as if I were part of a greater Aspen family.

The Hickory House was transformed before my very eyes into a magical cabin in the North Pole, with elves bustling about serving food and drink, guests sidling up next to strangers to share stories of giving over their delicious meals, families of four, six and eight people laughing and toasting the day, sharing thanks. No one sat alone.

The entire Hickory House staff donated their Thanksgiving Day: cooking, serving, bussing, and donating all tips earned to The Buddy Program. Cheery volunteers, some of whom return year after year, dished up generous plates of stuffing and mashed potatoes, all donated by U.S. Foodservice. Main Street Bakery donated bread and pies for hundreds; Upper Crust donated cookies, and most importantly of all Tong Luu donated 60 turkeys! Owner Paul Dioguardi and general manager Brian Jack cooked, served, cleared and chatted with their guests all day long. And guests, in turn, gave generously from their purses in thanks.

Finally, many members of our own Buddy Program family also donated their time to help the Hickory House on Thanksgiving Day: Big Buddies, both past and present, the parents of both Big and Little Buddies, and our Buddy Program staff.

On this last day of 2008, as I prepare to make resolutions for the new year, I will use the Hickory House as my example of how to give back to an entire community. Thank you to everyone who so generously donated their time and their money on Thanksgiving Day at the Hickory House. Not only did you touch everyone who dined there, but you have also touched and enhanced the lives of 324 Little Buddies who will benefit directly from your generosity.

Next year I’m bringing my whole family to serve turkey!

Natasha Long

event director

The Buddy Program

Aspen


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