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Donors bring Thanksgiving to many tables

Posted: Wednesday, Nov 21st, 2012

Fifty volunteers helped over 500 families take home a Food Bank Network of the San Luis Valley holiday meal box last Saturday. hoto courtesy of Kaytee Kinsey

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — Over 500 families will share a Thanksgiving meal because of the generosity of strangers, friends and the Food Bank Network of the San Luis Valley (FBNSLV).

FBNSLV director Mel Huss said in an interview on Tuesday the FBNSLV received $11,620.57 in donations to make about 515 Valley families holiday food boxes. The boxes, which were distributed on Saturday, Nov. 17, included stuffing, cranberry sauce, canned pumpkin, green beans, pie crusts and turkeys. Although the turkeys ended up costing about $2,000 more, she said the event was more than a huge success.

“We are still getting donations every day,” Huss said. “I’m really happy.”

She said 50 volunteers showed up at the Alamosa County shops on 17th Street last Saturday and assembled the holiday food boxes in 58 minutes. Some who gave their time had done so for over a decade, and for others it was their first experience.

Volunteers played an important role over the last month, Huss said. The Sargent and Alamosa National Honors Societies donated a total of $1,000 and the Adams State University counseling program $600. The food drive itself and the San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center Take A Turkey to Work Day contributed $1,300 in-kind donations, Valley farmers provided $3,000 in produce and there were 133 individual donors including organizations, businesses and churches.

One surprise donation came from the defunct San Luis Chamber of Commerce in Costilla County, she said. After it was realized that there were $1,300 unused dollars in a forgotten bank account, the former chamber board decided the best place the money could go is to the people of the Valley.

“They have all done wonderful work,” Huss said. “This is exciting, but now Thanksgiving is over and in the past two days, in the past seven hours we have been open, we have had 168 households come into the food bank for food.”

Although the FBNSLV doesn’t provide holiday meal boxes for Christmas, she said it does partner with other organizations that work to bring food to those in need over the holiday and sees an increase in food bank clientele. In 2011, the food bank in Alamosa alone saw a spike of about 150 families between September and December.

“We will see a jump this time of year when people are spending more money on heat and trying to bring Christmas to their families,” Huss said.

The FBNSLV is comprised of 13 food banks located throughout the region. In the Alamosa Food Bank, the hub of the network, donations of perishable food are received on a regular basis from stores including Wal-Mart, City Market and Safeway. These donations, along with the generous support of other individuals and organizations, account for a large portion of the food distributed throughout the year.

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