Volunteers carve into holiday meal

STAN SCHROCK/The Daily Sentinel—Matthew Dokoupil, Sodexo district manager, carves a turkey alongside volunteer Jackie Crawford in the Colorado Mesa University cafeteria kitchen on Monday. The turkeys will be served at the Elks Lodge in Grand Junction from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. as part of a free Thanksgiving day feast. Volunteers prepared 130 turkeys provided by the Salvation Army.

Jackie Crawford feels sympathy for those who struggle to find decent food, but that sympathy alone won’t feed the roughly 2,500 underprivileged people in Mesa County who don’t have the means to provide and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal this November.

Crawford, along with about 20 volunteers, are carving 130 turkeys for those people in need this holiday season. Colorado Mesa University is teaming up with Sodexo and the Salvation Army to provide the turkey, 70 gallons of gravy and more than 400 pounds of stuffing.

“This is really a great way for all of us to give back to the community and help those in need,” said Matthew Dokoupil, district manager for Sodexo. “We’ve always fostered a great relationship with the campus and community and we’re glad this event keeps growing over the years.”

Paul Burkholder started the event 18 years ago to help those in need of a good Thanksgiving meal. Burkholder coupled with long-time Sodexo employee and CMU Executive Chef Daniel Widhammer.

“Sodexo has had a long-standing commitment to the community,” Widhammer said. “We have this commercial kitchen and more than enough physical labor to be able to host this carving event every year.”

According to Sodexo, the Stop Hunger Initiative goal has been to focus on fighting hunger and to “change the fact that nearly one billion people suffer from hunger and malnutrition every day.”

The Salvation Army, which is the main donor of all the turkey this year, has continually dedicated time and resources to the community for more than 100 years in Grand Junction. The feast will take place from 11 am. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Elks Lodge, 249 S. Fourth St.

Salvation Army spokeswoman Claudia Jackson said the feast is open to everyone, including families, veterans and even CMU students.

“We are here to serve the community and one of our missions is to help as many people as we can,” said Jackson, “For those who can’t make it to Elks Lodge, we deliver food to shut-ins, and we even have a limousine service that runs between the homeless shelter and Elks Lodge.”

It is important for people to remember that support is always available and there are many willing to reach out and provide help.

“Everyone isn’t materially blessed with a home or even food, and it is important to help out whenever possible,” Crawford said. “This is an honor for any person to volunteer for the cause, especially around the holiday season.”


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