As most people familiar with Music on the Mountain know, we partner with the non-profit organization Lift-Up for Can for a Tram, a program that collects cans of food at the tram base at every concert. We also collect turkeys in November for Lift-Up’s Thanksgiving meals during our Turkey-Tram-a-Ganza event. We thought we would shine a spotlight on this important organization that’s helped thousands of people all over the region!
Lift-Up began during the oil shale boom in Rifle, when workers flooded into the area, looking for jobs but living in cars and under bridges. In the ensuing oil shale bust in the 1980s, Lift-Up was invaluable when Exxon closed overnight and 2,000 people were suddenly unemployed. Ever since, they’ve been a facilitator for the community to respond to people in need.
While food collection and donation is a big part of their program, they do much more. “Lift-Up’s mission is to provide essential humanitarian assistance in the communities we serve,” says Kim Loving, Lift-Up’s director. “We serve the unemployed, underemployed and homeless in our communities.”
To show the impact they have, let’s look at the year 2015: in that year alone, Lift-Up gave out over 35,000 bags of groceries! They assisted 42,872 people in 2015 with everything from groceries, prescriptions, thrift store vouchers, bus passes, emergency help, and soup kitchen meals. Last year, Lift-Up assembled and distributed 1,738 food baskets during the holidays. “To me, our numbers served show the impact we have on the community,” Loving points out.
There are also the personal stories that put a face to the individuals that Lift-Up helps. Take the case of Lisa (name changed for privacy), a struggling mother who was at her wit’s end:
“This past winter, we found ourselves in need of help. We had mounting medical bills due to a sick child, and I was sick myself. This resulted in numerous ER visits and surgeries. We didn’t have medical insurance at the time so the bills added up quickly. We paid $800 a month in medical bills on top of a mortgage and other various bills. Soon, we were struggling to keep food in the pantry and on the table. In November, one of our debtors decided to raise our bill significantly, and would sue us if we didn’t keep up. This was most of our budget for food. We had no choice but to swallow our pride and reach out for help. I reached out to a friend who told me about Lift-Up and what it was all about. I remember crying all the way down to Lift-Up, thanking God that there was someplace that could help us keep our children fed.
When we arrived, I didn’t know what to expect. Debi, a Lift-Up employee, was so wonderful and just started filling boxes and bags of food for our family. She was so sweet and caring. There was no judgement; just love.
Lift Up helped us get through Thanksgiving and Christmas. They helped me with jackets and snow pants for my kids, so they could be warm during winter. We are so grateful for Lift-Up and what they did for our family. They were a beaming light in a trying time of darkness. We appreciate them and we are eternally grateful for providing what we needed and for their love and compassion.”
The organization is always trying to branch out and fulfill needs that aren’t being taken care of. Lift-Up began a new Mobile Friday Lunch program last November, in collaboration with the school district. Kids going to Garfield RE2 schools only go four days a week, so Lift-Up makes and distributes a nutritious sack lunch at three lower-income locations in Rifle on the days when school is not in session.
“We have distributed over 1,800 lunches so far in 2016. This program has been such a blessing for Lift-Up. I personally enjoy handing out the lunches to the kids. They have been so thankful and a joy to be around!” exclaims Loving.
During Turkey Tram-a-Ganza, people donating turkeys get free tram rides to the top of Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
“I would encourage anyone who can to come join us and hand out lunches on Fridays. We start at 11:00 at Davidson Park in Rifle and end up at Joyce Park at 12:00. The middle stop is Cottonwood Springs Park, which begins at 11:30. The smiles and thank you’s are so worth it, even when it is really cold out.”
If you’d like to donate to Lift-Up in other ways, Loving says, “we are always in need of donated food items or even gift cards from grocery stores, where we can purchase meat for the pantries. Monetary donations are welcomed too!” A full list of items Lift-Up always wants on their shelves can help guide you.
“I would like the community to know that all of Lift-Ups’s programs wouldn’t be possible without the support we have received. I can’t ever thank everyone enough,” Loving concluded.
Bring at least one can of food to donate to Lift-Up and receive a FREE tram ride to the top for Music on the Mountain this weekend, and every Music on the Mountain show in the future. Thank you for making a positive impact on our community! For more information about upcoming concerts, visit Music on the Mountain.