Giving is at the heart of all we do. Too often, we don’t think about just how much the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the people around us, particularly if we have been able to keep our incomes fairly steady as we work from home. However, at Food Bank of the Rockies, we’ve noticed just how many people now face food scarcity. In fact, about ⅓ of the people who have turned to Food Bank of the Rockies and our partners have never sought out food assistance before.
This includes people like Ebony, who visited a drive-through food distribution hosted by our partner, Volunteers of America, to pick up a Thanksgiving basket for her family. We know and understand how difficult the holidays can be for families who are just barely scraping by, not sure where their next meal will come from. But fortunately, we were able to help Ebony get some things together for the big day, which she celebrated with her family, including her children who keep her on her toes. “We enjoy spending our time together at the table and giving thanks for what we do have,” she says, “and the food bank was a huge part of making our holiday special.”
Bringing Hope and Sustenance to Those Who Need It Most
The pandemic has also brought some people back for help once again. One such person is LaTosha. At the young age of 18, she enlisted in the Marines to become an Ammunition Tech, but when she graduated from boot camp, she received the horrific news that her father, Blake, had been killed. It was a heart-breaking tragedy no one saw coming. LaTosha and her siblings were suddenly orphaned, and it soon became her sole priority to take care of them and her sister’s newborn.
LaTosha took on her new role as a caregiver with grit, determination, and love, fighting daily to ensure that they weren’t separated from each other. She took medical leave from the military in order to do so. “I was barely 18,” LaTosha says. “I had a newborn and three teenagers.”
Unfortunately, LaTosha lived in an area that Food Bank of the Rockies didn’t serve, but she was able to find some food resources to help sustain her and her family. Putting family first, she worked three jobs in order to make ends meet to ensure that her siblings could graduate. “I don’t think I slept that whole year,” she says. “It was hard, but wouldn’t change it for anything. I’m glad I got to keep my brothers and my sister together. My family means everything to me.”
No stranger to hard work, LaTosha continued to work and kept her siblings together, providing them with love, guidance, and support until they were able to make it on their own. She took great pride in her siblings’ accomplishments and that they were able to remain under one roof.
Years later, LaTosha moved to Lakewood, where she now lives with her husband and children. While her husband is still working, the pandemic has hit their precious little family hard too, and living on a single income while everyone is home more makes feeding everyone nutritious meals extremely difficult. So, a week before Thanksgiving, LaTosha visited the Volunteers of America holiday food distribution in her neighborhood. Always thinking of others, she also picked up a box for a cousin who was quarantining after testing positive for COVID-19.
“It’s nice to get a little bit of weight off your shoulders. I work really hard, and something like this is so emotionally saving. It makes me happy to be able to not worry about this one thing,” she says.
Traditional foods are meaningful especially during the holidays. “We didn’t have a turkey, so this turkey is going to make our thanksgiving. Every year we’re used to spoiling ourselves around that time. But because of the pandemic and everything going on right now, we don’t really get to indulge as much as we’d like. This is that extra little step to making our Thanksgiving special,” she says.
Thousands Are Seeking Help
Helping people make memories, especially ones that revolve around food and spending time together, is one of life’s greatest privileges. When you think back on your own life, it is likely that you have many of those fond memories of sharing meals with loved ones. Those are the priceless memories we want to help preserve at Food Bank of the Rockies.
In these unprecedented times, helping families like Ebony’s and LaTosha’s to get through this challenging period with food assistance is only possible through the support of our volunteers and partner organizations at Food Bank of the Rockies, and for that, we are extremely grateful.
LaTosha said it best: “I would like to say thank you for this food. It’s very appreciated. I just want to say you all are helping so many people out there, and not many of us have the opportunity to enjoy Thanksgiving the way we’d like to, especially now, during these hard times. Thank you. Keep doing what you’re doing because you’re changing lives and making people happy. That’s very appreciated.”
We know that together we can all continue to make a difference, one day at a time.