One-man crusade gathering thousands of pounds of food
For the first time in Mike Strasser’s five-year run of camping to raise food donations for the Salvation Army, the weather got the best of him Friday night.
Near white-out conditions and slow foot traffic Friday night at City Market, 630 24 Road, convinced him to temporarily abandon his annual three-day campaign. With his clothing damp, the sleeping bag laid out in the back of his Suburban proved to be no match for the valley’s first snow.
“(Salvation Army spokeswoman Claudia Jackson) told me, ‘I would have chewed you out had you stayed,’ ” Strasser, 53, said Saturday morning.
Undaunted, he was back at it Saturday morning, loading frozen turkeys and an assortment of canned goods into a truck outside the 24 Road store.
“We’ve probably got two to three thousand pounds of food so far,” Strasser said just before noon.
This is the third year Strasser has camped in front of the 24 Road store for the pre-Thanksgiving food drive. Prior to that, he did it at City Market’s Fruita location. A propane delivery driver for Ferrellgas, Strasser always saves one vacation day each year for his Friday-through-Sunday effort. Last year, he collected more than 12,000 pounds of food.
The motivation remains the same each year, he said.
“This one lady came up and said her mother just passed away, while she’s in dire straits because she hasn’t made a whole lot of money this year,” he said. “That’s what it’s all for.”
Strasser said he’s been impressed with this year’s giving. Aside from his food collection, Strasser’s setup includes a Salvation Army collection kettle.
“I’ve seen some $20 bills going in there with coins,” he said. “It blows me away because I know things are tight.”
Strasser’s wife, Kerrie, helped her husband Saturday load donations into a truck. She also brought him meals.
“It’s something that comes from our hearts and I support him,” said Kerrie, who works with special needs students in School District 51. “I see the kids that go home with no food. Whatever we can do to make things better, we should do it.”
Strasser expects to be at the 24 Road store through today.