Lift-Up Aspen offers helping hand with Christmas dinner
The Aspen Times
Courtesy of the Lift-Up Aspen nonprofit food pantry, 22 cardboard containers filled with everything needed to make a complete Christmas dinner were set out Tuesday for families and individuals in need.
Christina Lockwood, 70, a retired city of Aspen parks employee, was one of the grateful recipients. She picked up her items from Lift-Up volunteers Angie and Anson Kendall in a small room at the Pitkin County Health and Human Services Building.
“It takes the edge off,” Lockwood said. “Now I know we’re going to have a turkey on the table. It makes my life lighter, and I don’t dread the holiday season anymore.”
The containers had gift certificates to purchase a turkey, ham or some other entree at a local grocery store; boxes of mixes for making stuffing, gravy, cornbread and cookies; canned goods with vegetables; fresh potatoes; cranberry sauce; and much more.
“Food is what it is; it’s expensive here,” Lockwood said. “To produce a family meal without a paycheck is scary.”
The meal will be consumed by Lockwood, her roommate and her roommate’s 20-year-old son. While at the county building, Lockwood also picked up another container of holiday fixings that had been reserved for a friend of hers.
Lynda Palevsky, volunteer coordinator for Lift-Up in Aspen, said the holiday meals have been provided by the Aspen pantry since it opened in 2009. Lift-Up also has pantries in Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, New Castle, Parachute and Rifle, where people who are going through “a rough patch” can obtain three days’ worth of food at one time, about five times per year, according to Palevsky.
With the economy improving, only 22 containers of food were set out for Thanksgiving and Christmas recipients this year, she said. In the past few years — especially during the Great Recession — more families sought help.
“When the economy tanked, we needed a Lift-Up pantry in Aspen for the first time,” Palevsky said. “This year, all of the pantries are seeing fewer people, but not radically fewer people. The need is still there. We’re not ready to shut our doors.”
Although the 22 holiday meals were set aside for people who signed up for them, the Aspen pantry’s headquarters on North Mill Street was open Tuesday to provide food at no charge for others who dropped in. It won’t be open again until Dec. 30.
Palevsky, who manages about 15 local volunteers, said there is no current need for more food donations. That’s because contributions pour in during the holidays.
“Our shelves are full,” she said. “We really don’t need any more food for the next couple of weeks. Everybody wants to do food drives around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we need to do food drives throughout the year. It’s hard to convey that because it’s the holiday, and people want to give around the holiday.”
Angie and Anson Kendall said recipients seem happy when picking up the containers.
“I would say the holiday spirit is stronger in this room than I’ve seen throughout the entire town,” Anson Kendall said. “People are excited, thankful and appreciative that the community is reaching out to them in their time of need.”
The local pantry serves Aspen, Snowmass Village, Woody Creek and unincorporated areas of Pitkin County south of Basalt.
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With a response rate to the 2020 Census survey below 40%, Pitkin County’s population appears to have been undercounted by at least 850 people.