‘Amazing’ children recognized by LiftUp food bank for efforts to fill shelves
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The holiday season officially kicked off in homes across Routt County on Thursday as local families shared turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. But that celebration has also inspired a season of giving.
“Routt County is raising some amazing youth. This year we have received close to 1500 pounds of food from different kid and youth groups in the community,” said Heidi Mendisco, office manager for the LiftUp of Routt County. “These groups did produce and food drives at their preschool centers, Hayden Mercantile, Steamboat City Market and even went door to door around Hayden with a wagon asking for items.”
Bonnie Girton, a volunteer with the Bear River Young Life, accompanied four middle school students earlier this month as they went door to door, hoping to gather food to put Thanksgiving dinner on the table of folks in Routt County who were not as fortunate as them.
“Bear River Young Life wanted to become a little more involved in helping our community, and so I personally knew that LiftUp was collecting their Thanksgiving meals, so that was an area where I thought we could partner with them and help them stock the cupboards in Hayden,” Girton said.
There are between 25 to 50 members of the Bear River Young Life in Hayden. On this night four members of that youth organization knocked on doors in a neighborhood looking for donations from residents.
“They saw the need of some of the people in town, and it was a chance for them to bond and come together to serve the town in an encouraging and fun way. They had a great time it was just a postive opportunity to help the community.”
Girton said it was the fourth project Bear River Young Life has completed in the Hayden area since the beginning of the year. The group also manned a booth at the Harvest Festival in October, and served coffee donated by Wild Goose Coffee at the Granary at a high school musical in Hayden. The Young Life group will also be on hand to set up chairs and tables for an upcoming Christmas tree auction to benefit nonprofits in the Hayden area.
Young Life is just one of several groups that have come out to help the LiftUp of Routt County in this critical time of the year. Other groups include the Heritage Park Preschool, Discovery Learning Center, Hayden Valley National Honor Society, Steamboat Springs National Honor Society and Kristen’s Comfort Care daycare center.
“I have two- and three-year-olds, so they don’t understand it fully, but bringing any awareness to them is important,” said Kristen Shoemaker, who owns the local daycare.
Shoemaker said the parents of the children who attend her daycare brought in the food that was donated to the bank, and then she took those children to LiftUp to hand the food items over before thanksgiving.
“It’s something that we have done the past two or three years,” Shoemaker said. “It teaches them the importance of giving back to the community, and giving to those in need and helping out those we can. … We don’t bring in very much, but it’s the idea that is really important.”
The Discovery Learning Center collects foods throughout the year, with different ages students taking part in different drives.
“The pre-k classroom does it at Thanksgiving and as part of learning about the holiday, being grateful and sharing,” Executive Director Tami Havener said. “So they did a food drive in the classroom and collected 66 different items, that they then took to LiftUp and helped put on the shelves.”
Mendisco said the efforts of the children in Routt County paid off and it was one of the things that she was thankful for this holiday season.
“With these donations we were able to provide anyone who signed up a Thanksgiving basket that included a turkey and all the items needed for a full meal,” Mendisco said. “LiftUp would like to thank each and everyone of them, and let Routt County know how amazing these kiddos are.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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Editor’s note: This story was updated at 1:25 p.m. to reflect the reopening of Hwy. 131.