How to help? Efforts underway to aid those in need in Aspen, Roaring Fork Valley |

How to help? Efforts underway to aid those in need in Aspen, Roaring Fork Valley

Sure Thing is offering customers a complimentary roll of toilet paper from their inventory if they’re in need at their restaurant in Willits on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

In the aftermath of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and other calamities, people instantly became donors and volunteers, rushing aid to victims and contributing blood, time, services, labor and money.

Aspen has been no different over the years, holding benefit concerts, blood and food drives, and clothing collections to aid the afflicted.

Yet, the venues that traditionally would support community rallies and fundraisers, Belly Up Aspen and the Wheeler Opera House, for instance, are closed because of COVID-19. Under an order delivered Monday by Gov. Jared Polis, restaurants and bars can’t be gathering places and can do pick-up and delivery services only.

As the community continues to understand the widespread impacts of the coronavirus, some local organizations are responding through various efforts while making their own pledges to honor the social-distancing rules of staying at least 6 feet apart from others.

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Aspen Middle School, Aspen Family Connections will be accepting nonperishable food items only.

“Aspen Family Connections and our partners will ensure that food donated to us will be distributed to those families most in need in our community,” according to a news release.

Drop-off instructions include following the outer ring at the middle school parking lot, where food will be collected under the overhang entrance. Donors are asked to spend as little time possible outside their vehicles and maintain 6 feet from other individuals. Food items can be dropped off on the tables. Perishable, prepared, hot and opened food will not be accepted, and anyone or member of their household with any type of symptoms related to the COVID-19 illness is urged not to drop off food.

Aspen Family Connections also is accepting small donations ranging from $20 to $50 City Market and Visa gift cards to support families with specific needs (such as diapers, formula).

For larger donations or questions, call Katherine Sand at 970-205-7025.

Gwyn’s High Alpine helped fuel a community food pick-up Tuesday evening in Snowmass.

After handing out large boxes of various food items, Gwyn Knowlton, George Gordon, and their daughter Whitney Gordon talked about how they would most likely not open again this season — their final one after more than 40 years operating at Snowmass — but that they wanted to end on the most positive note possible.

“We just felt this was the best thing to do and really hope the many other restaurants closing can do the same,” Whitney said. “Right now, we all need to do all we can to support the community, especially the businesses staying open.”

Other aid efforts underway include:

Starting noon Thursday at 319 E. Hopkins Ave., Meat & Cheese will have free soup to go. “We are sympathetic to the fact that more than half of Aspen’s workers got laid off (Monday) and want to do our part,” said Wendy Mitchell, owner of Meat & Cheese Restaurant and Farm Shop and Hooch Craft Cocktail Bar, said in an email. The email was in reference to Aspen’s service industry effectively being shut down — other than taking food orders for delivery and pick-up — by the governor’s order Monday.

The outdoor soup kitchen was the brainchild of manager Bonnie Woodward, so the setup is being called Bonnie’s Soup Kitchen.

“We will make sure to use all the appropriate sanitation procedures and ask people to leave 6 feet between themselves as they pick up,” Mitchell said.

The Aspen Jewish Congregation is providing complimentary grocery and medicine pick-up for anyone concerned about leaving home. The service is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by calling 970-925-8245.

“We are all part of this small community and as an organization we want to help do our part to support one another,” said Leonard Lansburgh, president of the AJC’s board of directors.

In addition, healthy county residents who want to volunteer to help the local government run phone hotlines or other services should email Valerie Carlin ( at the Aspen Community Foundation, who is coordinating volunteers.

Sure Thing Burger in Willits is giving away what is becoming a scarce commodity — toilet paper — by offering a free roll to those in need.

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