Salvation Army holiday drive begins |

Salvation Army holiday drive begins

Christine Ina Casillas

Excessive rents are paid to live in the valley at the expense of providing food for growing families. Money that should be spent on food is sometimes spent elsewhere.

And the extra expense of the holidays puts an additional strain on needy families.

The Vail Valley Salvation Army operates a year-round food pantry to help address the growing need in the valley, said Joann Carhart Levy, fund-raising coordinator for the Vail Valley Salvation Army. And the holiday food basket program helps alleviate some of the strain.

But the Salvation Army needs donations to purchase food they are unable to store, such as milk and other necessities for hungry families.

“We feed everyone,” Levy said. “People who can’t afford to pay their rent, or if they can’t afford to buy food, can come to us.

“We have to pay for some of the food, but mostly it’s donated.”

The Salvation Army’s annual holiday food basket program is from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, at Avon Elementary School and at the Eagle County Fairgrounds.

More than 700 food basket are delivered to low-income families throughout the valley during the holiday season. Food drives coordinated by organizations and churches help stock the food pantry. The programs operate year-round and the food drives also continue all year to keep the food pantry in operation, Levy said.

“We have periodic food drives, but most of the food comes in at Thanksgiving,” Levy said. “Sometimes, we don’t have enough room for it.”

But the volunteers at the Salvation Army pack enough food in the food baskets for two weeks, she said.

“People can come in and take as much food as they want based on our criteria,” she said. “They have to call us, and we write their names into a book to keep track of them. But they can come in any time.”

But some of the food the Salvation Army receives doesn’t last long enough to give to families. Food drive items they need are usually canned goods, bags of rice and beans, spaghetti and spaghetti sauce, oatmeal, peanut butter, crackers and dried milk. Additional items are soap, toilet paper and toothpaste.

The Salvation Army is “desperate for kids coats,” though, she said. They need “clean coats.”

“Our low-income families need winter clothing,” she said, “particularly children’s outerwear.”

Clean hats, mittens and gloves, sweaters, coats and fleece in good condition are needed for distribution, she said.

“They need to be clean,” she said.

Sometimes, the Salvation Army receives coats that are ripped and torn, she said. Some are too old and worn to give to families in need. Others are too dirty.

But not all of the food and clothing goes toward low-income families, she said. The Salvation Army attends to stranded travelers or victims of disasters. They help people in car accidents or trapped in snow storms.

If someone cannot afford to pay rent or utilities, the Salvation Army provides help, she said. They provide emergency transportation help, providing gasoline, bus tickets and pay for minor auto repairs.

“We help with initial emergency needs,” she said. “If they need anything else or more help, we meet those initial needs first and then hook them up with other agencies for additional help.”

Food drive

The Vail Valley Salvation Army’s annual holiday food basket program takes place from 9 a.m. to noon, Nov. 22 at Avon Elementary school and the Eagle County Fairgrounds.

Volunteers are needed to assemble food baskets and deliver food to low-income families in the valley.

For more information, call the Salvation Army at 926-3704.

Service units

The Vail Valley Salvation Army Service Unit helps people in the valley in a number of different ways:

– Emergency transportation, which is given in the form of gasoline, bus tickets and minor accident repairs.

– Utilities, which are given in the form of wood, propane and by helping with bills and deposits.

-Helping local individuals and families with emergency rents and deposits.

– Transient help in the form of food, short-term lodging and emergency transportation.

– Emergency shelter for road closures and temporary housing for people in emergency situations.

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at

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