DENVER — It seems nothing can escape supply shortages and constraints, not even the annual Denver Feed-A-Family event that took place Saturday in northeast Denver.
"Food shortage in this country is a very strange notion to me, something I never thought I'd see in the USA, where you couldn't get any particular food you wanted," Epworth Foundation founder Rev. King Harris said.
In years past, families were used to seeing lines of volunteers filling food baskets. But this year, the foundation, which continues to honor the legacy of "Daddy" Bruce Randolph, was handing out 7,500 Walmart gift cards in lieu of the baskets because of food supply constraints.
"We're not able to get the supplies, the food, for this event, so rather than canceling it, we chose to do the gift cards," Epworth Foundation board member Rev. Ron Wooding said.
Walmart has been a partner of the event for years, but the company wasn't able to donate food this year, Harris says, because it needs to make sure its stores have enough supply for Thanksgiving.
"You don't want to walk into a store and find out that they don't have food," he said. "We can appreciate that."
But that didn't stop lines of cars with families in need from forming outside Epworth United Methodist Church Saturday morning.
For Rachel Simpson and her son Joey, a $35 gift card is life-changing. The two have been homeless for about two years.
"We just got housed, actually, through the Colorado Coalition [for the Homeless], so this is our first Thanksgiving," Simpson said through tears. "It just means so much to be able to provide for my son."
With her life turning around, she wants to make it the best Thanksgiving ever for her and her son.
"That's what I get my excitement from, just knowing that all these people will have more on Thanksgiving than if we had canceled the event," Wooding said.
The Epworth Foundation is also handing out about 500 warm meals on Thanksgiving Day at the church. To help meet its goal, the foundation is collecting donations.