The Aspen Times: Aspen Board of Realtors help stock Lift-Up pantry

A food drive by the Aspen Board of Realtors for LIFT-Up got a super-sized boost Monday.

Bren Simon of Carbondale isn’t a real estate agent but she heard about the foodraising effort and decided to help — in a big way. She purchased what turned out to be five pallets of food from Costco and had them delivered to the warehouse for Carbondale’s branch of LIFT-UP, the nonprofit that operates food pantries in the towns of the Roaring Fork and Lower Colorado River valleys.

Volunteers with LIFT-UP unloaded the pallets Monday afternoon. Jake Boyles, of Crystal River Spas, donated his time on a forklift to ease the amount of labor needed to unload the shipment. The special delivery featured food such as canned corn and green beans that can be used during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, as well as such items as pasta, peanut butter and cereal that can be used as needed.

Aspen Board of Realtors President Karen Toth said the nonprofit association for real estate agents picks a different charitable group to help each month. The effort has been going on for two years.

“We’re trying to focus on those that don’t have a big voice,” she said.

About 25 real estate offices have collected food since Nov. 1 and will continue gathering items up to Thanksgiving Day. They will contribute several thousands dollars worth of food, Toth said.

In addition to providing direct assistance to charitable nonprofits, the real estate agents aim each month to make other people aware of the good-deed organizations. It worked in spades this month. Toth said Simon inquired about what effort was being assisted in November and initially didn’t disclose she was making such a big donation.

Toth said she could hardly believe it when she learned the size of Simon’s contribution.

“I was jumping for joy,” she said.

After Simon said she wanted to help stock the pantry in Carbondale, Toth consulted with LIFT-UP on what foods were needed the most and Costco was contacted for a bulk purchase.

Debi Boyle, coordinator of the Carbondale LIFT-UP office, said the real estate agent’s delivery will help fill about 175 Thanksgiving boxes that will be distributed on Sunday and it will help keep the pantry stocked for a few months.

However, the pantry goes through an incredible amount of food, Boyle said. A few of the items still needed for the holiday boxes include canned sweet potatoes, Jell-O mix and pie crust.

Food is always needed for the regular disbursements from the pantry. About 25 families per day are assisted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, when the pantry is open. The office is in constant need of cash to purchase groceries that aren’t on hand.

“I buy meat before I open every day,” Boyle said.

Food and cash donations can be given to LIFT-UP at its Third Street Center office.

Toth said she understands that the food drive by the Aspen Board of Realtors will only help for a couple of months. But she hopes it will spur people — real estate agents and otherwise — to help LIFT-UP over the long haul.

The real estate agents will assist an organization called Christmas Wish in December; the Hope Center will get a boost in January; Response will get help in February; and Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club will be assistance in March.

Read more at The Aspen Times.