Full Plates: 6 Ways to Help on Thanksgiving

Want to assist your fellow Denverites for Thanksgiving? Here’s how to lend a hand.


Courtesy Denver Rescue Mission

The meal: Last year, Operation Turkey delivered 50,000 Thanksgiving Day meals nationwide. This year, the goal is 75,000. For the last 18 years, this all-volunteer organization has been cooking, packing, and delivering warm meals—as well as care packages and clothing donations—to people in need. Operation Turkey is now in seven states, including ours (in Colorado Springs and Denver).

What you can do: Cook, clean, deliver, package, or plate. Kids are welcome to join their parents or guardians in helping out, too. If you’d like to donate, 100 percent of your donation will go to buying food for the big day ($100 feeds 40 people).

The meal: Denver Rescue Mission gives more than 3,000 families Thanksgiving food boxes, each packed with a complete holiday meal to be cooked at home; serves a traditional Thanksgiving meal at Lawrence Street Community Center, Fort Collins Rescue Mission, and The Crossing; and works with local organizations to get meals into the homes of other people in need. To have enough food, they hold a yearly turkey drive. The 2018 drive runs through Nov. 21.

What you can do: Donate food: frozen turkeys that weigh 12 pounds or more, boxed mashed potatoes and stuffing, and canned fruit, vegetables, and yams. Donate money towards a frozen turkey (prices range from $15 to $20). Host a drive. Volunteer to be a “turkey tosser,” collecting donated frozen turkeys; shifts last two to three hours.

Drop-off donations: Lawrence Street Shelter (1130 Park Ave.), Ministry Outreach Center (5725 E. 39th Ave.), and The Crossing (6090 Smith Road)

The meal: Each year the Feed a Family program, which commemorates the Denver-famous “Daddy” Bruce Randolph, distributes more than 350,000 pounds of food and feeds an average of 37,000 people. A true community event, this effort has grown proportionally since Randolph first opened his small backyard BBQ catering business and began feeding the hungry in the late 1960s with a Thanksgiving dinner for 200 people at City Park.

What you can do: For $30, you can feed a family of eight with a basket full of all the Thanksgiving meal staples—turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, macaroni and cheese, cake mix, and cranberries. Hundreds of volunteers are needed to pack and distribute the food as well.

The meal: For nine (this year will make it 10) years, the House for all Sinners and Saints has conducted quite an elaborate Thanksgiving Day operation. Each year on that Thursday morning, they gather a crew of volunteers to assemble sack lunches and deliver them to those all throughout Denver (like police officers and firefighters and medical staffers) who have to work on Thanksgiving. The sack lunches are stocked with fresh turkey sandwiches, toppings (like mayo and mustard), a pumpkin cookie, and a stuffing muffin.

What you can do: Help HFASS reach its goal of 1,000 lunches. Cook a turkey, bake some cookies and muffins, help provide loaves of bread, assemble lunches, or drive around and hand them out. Donations for supplies are also welcome. Sign up: bit.ly/hfassots18

The meal: Thanks to the 7,000 pounds of food donated by King Soopers, The Salvation Army will serve a traditional Thanksgiving meal—with all the trimmings—to homeless individuals and families, or anyone seeking shelter in the Metro Denver area on Thanksgiving Day.

What you can do: Volunteer to help with set-up, food service, greeting guests, and cleanup, or make a donation at imsalvationarmy. org. The meal will be held at the Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th St., Exhibit Hall B (entrance on Welton St.), from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

The meal: Grab your running shoes and build up an appetite for the big meal ahead (all for a good cause, of course) at the 45th annual Mile High United Way Turkey Trot. This Thanksgiving tradition attracts more than 20,000 people for a four-mile morning run at Washington Park, with all proceeds directed toward the advancement of education, health, and financial stability for those living in Metro Denver.

What you can do: Register for the walkor- run race and help United Way break last year’s record of more than 10,300 participants and $450,000 raised in donations. You can also volunteer to help out with the race and cheer on the runners, or register to be a sponsor for the event.

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