Offered by: Jan Hepp-Struck, Hepp Realty
A key indicator of a good community is how it comes together in times of need to help those less fortunate and/or adversely impacted by external factors beyond their control. This coming together happens through partnerships between local organizations, businesses, non-profits, and residents. What is now known as the annual Thanksgiving Meals Project is a perfect example of this.
It started from humble beginnings with a partnership between the VFW Post and Meals on Wheels program in the mid 90s and has grown steadily ever since. According to Bob Grant, a long-standing Kiwanis Club of Brighton member and the Thanksgiving Meals Project coordinator, Kiwanis joined the partnership in 1998 with approximately 80 meals delivered. In 2010, the United Methodist Church signed on and in 2012 the program delivered a new record 550 meals.
After the original VFW post disbanded in 2014 the project found a new home base of operations when the Brighton Elk’s Club joined the partnership, providing larger dedicated kitchen facilities and additional volunteers, including Char Wolf as head cook. Volunteers from the Brighton High School DECA club and the Greater Brighton Neighborhood Volunteers also joined the efforts in 2014, and the program expanded to more than 800 hot meals delivered to 208 different locations, followed by an all-time record of 1,204 meals delivered in 2015.
Over the past five years, the project has averaged more than 600 volunteer hours and delivered around 800 meals each thanksgiving, including a hot and cold plate. The dedicated volunteers won’t even let weather stand in their way, and still managed to deliver over 800 meals to more than 200 different locations in the middle of the Thanksgiving snowstorm of 2019. Many other community partners have stepped up to assist through donations, financial support, and volunteers, since 2014 including the Adams County Sheriff’s Department, United Power, School District 27J, Brighton Business Builders, Safeway, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Let Your Light Shine, Brighton Senior Center, and dozens of Brighton citizens who show up Thanksgiving morning to help with delivering the meals.
The project receives referrals for shut-ins, seniors, the homeless, and citizens facing socio-economic and physical challenges, from many different organizations, including the schools, food banks, churches, Meals on Wheels, housing managers, and others who are aware of people in need. To get a meal(s) delivery, recipients/referrers are asked to provide a location, phone number, how many meals are needed, and a guarantee that someone will be there to accept the meals between 10:00am and 12:00pm Thanksgiving morning. In compliance with health and safety precautions, this year’s program includes a no-contact protocol with meals placed on the doorstep for recipients.
I have been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Brighton since 1987 and am proud of the positive impact the club has had within Brighton. If you need a meal, know anyone in need of a meal, or you are interested in volunteering to help deliver meals, please contact Bob Grant at 303-902-0586.
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