EDWARDS — Stores are decked with boughs of holly, Good King Wenceslas is blessing the poor and the bell ringers are getting their wrists ready for all that clanging. And while there’s no doubt Christmas is coming, the Vail Valley Salvation Army first needs to jump the Thanksgiving hurdle, feeding people in the community who might otherwise go without.
It’s no small feat — Thanksgiving food baskets cost $15,000 last year and served more than 2,500 people in Eagle County. Each meal costs $6, plus extensive volunteer hours. And without assistance from individuals and the local business community, the holiday strain can restrict the assistance the Salvation Army can provide for clothing, transportation, rent and other necessities through the rest of the year.
Several businesses have sprung into action to help foot the bill.
At The Bookworm of Edwards, the cost of one Thanksgiving meal will be donated for each copy of “Ski Town Soups” sold in the month of November, a coordinated effort between the store and East Vail author Jennie Iverson. In addition, the book shop is hosting a canned food drive all month long.
The drive and donations will culminate in a free community supper — serving homemade soups, fresh salads, rolls and dessert — on Friday at 6 p.m.
“Our goal is to make sure that individuals, families and children have a warm meal every night of the week before Thanksgiving and that every person in need will have a Thanksgiving meal if they want for one,” said Nicole Magistro, co-owner of The Bookworm.
With free meals served throughout the valley on other days of the week, Magistro thought Friday might be a good time to open up the store to anyone who might need a night out without the cost of eating out.
“I was humbled by the sheer numbers of people that the Salvation Army’s food pantry and others serve. With all the affluence, all the organics, all the expensive cookbooks and foodie culture we promote in the valley, it just doesn’t seem right that people in our community are without nutritious food,” she said.
In addition to the hearty, homemade soups and salad, rolls will be provided by Avon Bakery and dessert will be provided by HP’s Provisions in Eagle, which is also hosting a canned food drive this month.
Fostering community spirit
“We are fortunate enough to live here, and when we can, it is important to give back to the community so we can continue to the foster the spirit that makes this place so special,” said HP’s co-owner Samantha Perkins. “Even as a small business, we are always doing our best to help everyone when we can.”
Salvation Army Director Tsu-Wolin Brown whole-heartedly encourages involvement like this event. “It brings attention to (local) needs when community members do an event for us,” she said.
This year, Brown anticipates more than 6,000 people will have come to the Salvation Army with food needs. She estimates that more than 600 food baskets will be distributed for Thanksgiving and over 700 baskets for Christmas. Rising food costs mean the bills will be even higher than last year.
Fundraisers and food drives for the Salvation Army are effective ways to get involved during the season for giving thanks. But volunteers are also need to assemble and distribute baskets during the holidays and throughout the year. For more information about volunteering for the Salvation Army, visit www.salvation armyvail.org.
Leigh Horton is the journalism intern at The Bookworm of Edwards and a Colorado School of Mines student.