Donations overall dropped but individuals proved more generous this year than last during the annual Giving Tree food drive, held April 14 in area grocery store parking lots.
Volunteers at four stores collected about seven tons of food. The food stocks the shelves at Castle Rock-based Douglas/Elbert Task Force, which provides food and other services to Douglas and Elbert county residents who are in need.
Volunteers collected food and cash donations at the Safeway stores in Castle Rock, Lone Tree and Highlands Ranch and the King Soopers in Castle Pines.
The weekend after Easter is less busy for grocery stores than most, store managers said, which likely contributed to the smaller amount of donated food. Giving Tree organizers chose the weekend to avoid competing with Girl Scout cookie sales, but given the reduced traffic count, founder Susan Squyer said they’ll likely choose a different day again next year.
“Considering all that, it was good,” she said. “I saw larger (cash) donations this year. People were really receptive and very supportive. They showed their generosity when they left the store.”
Squyer attributes the more generous cash donations to not just a gradually improving economy, but to the Giving Tree’s decision to suggest a $5 donation instead of $10.
The task force served 16,000 clients in 2011, more than half of them children and the majority from Douglas County. Its services include a food bank and assistance with clothing and household items, utilities and housing. Proceeds from sales at its Castle Rock thrift store, Treasures on Park Street, benefit the task force and its mission.
The Giving Tree is part of Douglas County Leadership Alumni.