Thanksgiving is going to look different this year for almost all of us, but for many people in our community, the differences are sure to be even more drastic. Since mid-March, a good chunk of the Front Range population has seen their jobs disappear, hours cut, and/or pay slashed. Of course, there’s also COVID-19, which has taken loved ones and hospitalized thousands, with no end in sight. So, yes, our community is hurting. But luckily, there are individuals and organizations committed to ensuring that, at least on Thanksgiving, everyone has the opportunity to enjoy a hot meal and a brief reprieve from the difficulties this year has bestowed.
“Every year, I try to take time to connect with friends and buyers I’ve done business with over the year and focus on the community we live in,” says Tajahi Cooke, who, along with his wife Danielle, is organizing Ms. Betty’s Harvest Madsgiving 2020, named for his grandmother. “I used to see my grandma do it all year, and I try to do it for Thanksgiving.”
The Cookes have prepared Thanksgiving meals out of their own home kitchen and distributed them to those in need for years, but for 2020, those efforts will be on a much larger scale. They and their team of volunteers will cook out of three commercial kitchens—at the now-closed Broadway Market, Junction Food & Drink, and Daven Haven Lodge in Grand Lake—preparing 2,000 meals for people living in shelters and those displaced by recent wildfires. “The need is insane,” Cooke says. “Call us crazy, but this needs to get done.”
The Jewish Family Service Weinberg Food Pantry has seen a similar increase in need. Since the pandemic hit, it has experienced a 400-percent increase in demand, and the organization is ramping up their Thanksgiving deliveries accordingly. Read on for ways that you can help the helpers, by donating money, food, or your time.
What they need: Monetary donations to fill 520 Thanksgiving boxes with all the fixings.
Who it helps: Families looking for a little extra assistance this year
How you can help: Because JFS can buy items at reduced cost, monetary donations make the biggest impact. The boxes, which feed a family of four, cost $82.36, but donations in any amount help.
What they need: 15,000 turkeys
Who it helps: The turkeys are distributed by 100 schools, nonprofits, and churches, in addition to being served at DRM locations around town. Another 3,000 Thanksgiving Banquet-in-a-Boxes (aka turkey dinners with all the fixings) are given out at Empower Field at Mile High the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
How you can help: Donate a frozen turkey (12 pounds or more) or other Thanksgiving-y non-perishables like canned pumpkin, cranberries, and yams, or boxed stuffing and mashed potatoes. The preferred drop-off location is the Ministry Outreach Center at Holly St. and 39th Ave., from 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Monday–Friday. Or donate online or by texting “Turkey” to 24365; $15-20 buys one turkey.
What they need: Everything to provide Thanksgiving meals for 2,000 people—monetary and/or food donations and/or your time
Who it helps: The Cookes feed individuals at Salvation Army, youth and women’s shelters, Mean Street Ministry, affordable housing communities, and, new this year, those affected by the fires in Grand Lake.
How you can help: It takes a lot of people to cook that many meals, and the Cookes are looking for help prepping on Wednesday night, cooking early Thursday morning, and delivering the goods on Thanksgiving afternoon. Sign up to volunteer or donate to help them get everything they need.
2020 Ruby’s Refugee Thanksgiving
What they need: Instead of its annual Refugee First Thanksgiving potluck dinner, the African Community Center of Denver is partnering with Ruby’s Market and Lutheran Family Services on a massive food and household items delivery for refugee and immigrant families.
Who it helps: The 300 refugee and immigrant families in the ACC and LFS networks
How you can help: Drop off a food or household item bag at Ruby’s Market on Saturday, November 21 from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. For a full list of the household items and culturally appropriate foods they need the most, visit the ACC’s Facebook page. To help deliver the bags on November 23 and 24, sign up here.