It takes a Vail Valley Salvation Army to fill 600 food baskets this Thanksgiving | VailDaily.com

It takes a Vail Valley Salvation Army to fill 600 food baskets this Thanksgiving

EAGLE COUNTY — There's a table for everyone this Thanksgiving, and hundreds of families will eat well this holiday season thanks to the local Salvation Army branch and its volunteers.

On Saturday morning, Nov. 19, the community is rallying behind Vail Valley Salvation Army to provide 600 food baskets to families in need, filled with all of the Thanksgiving staples.

The Vail Valley Salvation Army provides goods and services for about 500 households per month, from providing food to helping pay rent or bills as well as helping with things like transportation.

They're the safety net of the community, and with only two paid staff, the local Salvation Army relies and thrives off its volunteers, and on Saturday, they'll all congregate once again, some for the first time, to fill boxes at 9 a.m. to start handing out at 10 a.m. This year, they will be at Avon Elementary School and United Methodist Church in Eagle.

That's over 3 tons of potatoes, apples and carrots, hundreds of orders for gravy mix, stuffing mix, corn bread and pie crust, as well as canned corn, cherry pie filling and green beans — all packed into 600 boxes with some extra food on top. They're also stuffing the boxes with gift cards for turkey or ham.

Tsu Wolin-Brown, of the Vail Valley Salvation Army, calls it "organized chaos" that takes place the morning of the food basket extravaganza.

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From local students collecting food to church congregations helping pack boxes, it takes a community to help the community.

"With everything dividing people nowadays, we're all there and it doesn't matter what our background is," said Pastor Ethan Moore at Trinity Church in Edwards. "We're all there to help people. It's a lot of fun, uplifting and encouraging, and a lot of people who need some help get some help."

Vail Resorts, Cub Scouts and SOS Outreach all pitch in to give thanks with a grateful heart.

"Even though we're giving to these people who don't have very much food, we're also giving an opportunity to our volunteers to teach their children how to give," Wolin-Brown said.

On Saturday, 200-300 volunteers will help fill boxes, including members from local law enforcement, firefighters and other public safety groups.

"It takes everybody. We get a lot of help," said Greg Osteen, of Vail Valley Cares who provides the trucks for transporting the food as well as planning the event. "Otherwise, it would take forever. The community is really what makes this happen."

Osteen, like many of the volunteers, have been participating in the annual Thanksgiving food basket process for years. He remembers one year when volunteers packed all 350 boxes before 9:30 a.m., an effort he's yet to see again.

While the Vail Valley Salvation Army sends food home, local churches are inviting people to dine in during their weekly dinners this Thanksgiving week.

After the boxes are filled and people across the valley find reasons to be thankful, the Vail Valley Salvation Army is onto its next endeavor — Christmas.

Keep your eyes peeled for bell ringers, and maybe be one yourself. Last year, $52,000 was brought in from Salvation Army bell ringers, and all it takes is a body and a bell, and a dog is optional.

"So many people help us," Wolin-Brown said. "It's an amazing thing."

Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

Fill some baskets

What: Vail Valley Salvation Army fills food baskets.

Where: Avon Elementary School; United Methodist Church in Eagle.

When: Fill the baskets from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday to then be distributed.