DENVER – About 4,000 metro families will have a Thanksgiving meal this year, thanks to the generosity of community members who donated their time or money to the Denver Feed-A-Family program.
Not even the Colorado weather, with temperatures in the teens, could stop volunteers from waking up before dawn on Saturday and forming an assembly line outside Epworth United Methodist Church in Denver.
“It is very cold,” said Sgt. Stephanie Lang, a volunteer with the Denver County Sheriff’s Department. “We came prepared, so everybody has extra socks and gloves and the whole nine.”
Volunteers filled thousands of boxes with food for Thanksgiving as part of the Denver Feed-A-Family program, a tradition dating back decades when “Daddy” Bruce Randolph fed his neighbors and community.
“I can think back to when I was in elementary school. I went to Columbine Elementary, and 'Daddy' Bruce was just you know, the name on the street,” said Lang. “Everybody was talking about 'Daddy' Bruce and everything he did in the community.”
Just after 9 a.m., cars began driving through checkpoints to pick up the food, which consisted of a turkey, cornbread, yams, potatoes, stuffing, green beans and corn.
Organizers said each box that was assembled contained enough food to feed eight people.
The work to ensure there’s enough food to fill the boxes is a year-long process
“We start planning in January,” said Xiomata Yanique, the volunteer program director for the Epworth Foundation, which has organized the annual program for the past two decades.
Yanique is the person in charge of making sure the program runs as smoothly as possible.
This year, rising food prices, supply chain issues and lower than expected donations caused organizers to fall short of their goal of feeding five-thousand families.
In a press release on Thursday, the Epworth Foundation said it was short $117,000 of its goal.
“We had to come down but we're still really grateful that we're still going to be able to feed 4,000,” said Yanique.
Last year, supply chain issues also caused problems, Yanique said.
As a result, she said they handed out gift cards instead of food boxes.
“This year, we're really excited because we're returning back to giving out [boxes],” said Yanique.
Volunteers also delivered food boxes to people who were unable to make it to the church to get their boxes.
About 500 people volunteered.
Despite the brutal, cold weather, many said they were happy to help make one of Denver’s finest traditions possible again.
“These are difficult times and it's important for us to all come together,” said Lang. “We are the community. This is the community. And to be out here shows that we love and support each other.”