Vail Valley community reaches out on Thanksgiving |

Vail Valley community reaches out on Thanksgiving

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Vail Daily file photoJordan Leyba, 8, right center, helps load yams into Thanksgiving food baskets for Vail Valley families in need at the Salavtion Army's food basket drive at Avon Elementary School in 2008. The Salvation Army put together about 500 baskets at this year's drive, which was last Saturday.

VAIL, Colorado – Food is what Thanksgiving is all about in Colorado’s Vail Valley – sure, we give thanks for other things, but we usually do it in front of a table full of food.

Those who can’t have a full table of food find comfort in those in the Vail Valley who make sure nobody goes hungry on Thanksgiving.

The Vail Valley Salvation Army delivered about 500 food baskets Saturday – about 70 more than last year. The baskets are an annual tradition in which volunteers pack and deliver all the Thanksgiving staples like turkey and stuffing into a basket for locals in need.

Tsu Wolin-Brown, the Salvation Army’s executive director, said she thought a lot of people had left town this year, so she was a little surprised the organization had so many requests for food baskets.

Debbie, a Dotsero woman who picked up a basket for her family, said she doesn’t know what she’d do without the Salvation Army. She can’t find work and doesn’t have a car to get to and from Dotsero, and her unemployment from a previous job has run out. Debbie didn’t want to use her last name because of her situation.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Debbie lives with her brother and helps him out raising his children. She said the Salvation Army, and specifically Wolin-Brown, is a tremendous help.

“(Tsu Wolin-Brown) is there to keep your spirits and hope up, even when everything looks bad,” Debbie said.

From vegetables to pie filling to cranberry sauce to a gift certificate for a turkey, there was a little bit of everything in the food basket, Debbie said.

“They even put in candy for the kids, which was really special,” Debbie said. “It’s the little things like that that really make the holiday special – to be able to give the kids something they don’t get all the time.”

Darla Goodell, owner of the Turntable in Minturn, is serving up her annual Thanksgiving dinner for the community. She started the tradition about 15 years ago after feeling bad for the people living in her motel who didn’t have a place to go for dinner or to cook.

She started sharing the leftovers from the dinner she cooked for her family, and then decided to host a community dinner for anyone who wanted to come.

“People always think it’s a poor people’s dinner, but it’s a community dinner,” Goodell said.

One year some people donated $100 as they left the dinner because they told Goodell they felt like they just ate at their own mother’s house. She said the donations aren’t necessary – she’s just happy to provide some “good old-fashioned hospitality.”

“I think we might have a lot more people this year, because of tough times,” Goodell said.

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

Support Local Journalism