Giving locally matters – Douglas/Elbert Task Force
By Elise Brassell; photos courtesy of the Douglas/Elbert Task Force
When donating to a nonprofit organization, sometimes it can be hard to know whether the help is applied locally. But when someone donates food or other necessities to the Douglas/Elbert Task Force (Task Force), it means giving back to those in our local community who need it most.
The Task Force provides food, clothing and assistance to people in serious economic need in Douglas and Elbert counties and last year alone, the staff handled 16,000 client visits.
The organization started in 1984 when Castle Rock churches created a centralized place to help people in need and today is an essential resource for the community, supported by a small staff and the help of more than 300 volunteers.
Pam Inmann, Castle Pines resident and member of the Task Force board of directors said, “One of the reasons I began volunteering at the Task Force is that whatever we do stays here to help citizens in Douglas and Elbert counties. We’re helping our neighbors.”
In March, the Task Force re-opened Mela’s Pantry, its client-choice food bank, which serves as the core of the Task Force’s mission to end hunger in Douglas and Elbert counties.
Using donations from both individuals and businesses, Mela’s Pantry provides each client with enough food for a week, and so far this year, has distributed more than 258,000 pounds of food. Prior to its remodel, clients would order a pre-packed box of food, but now can roam the aisles to select their own groceries.
Jenny Follmer, deputy director of the Task Force said, “Food has always been a core service of ours. In the past, our pantry area was quite tight. Since we re-opened in March with a bigger space, our clients can shop on their own.”
Donations of food and toiletries are accepted year-round at Mela’s Pantry, which now offers the feel of a small-town grocery store, spanning about 650 square feet and serving 20 families per day. Dan Marlow, executive director at the Task Force said, “People tend to think about donating food in November and December, but there are leaner months, especially in the summer. We encourage people to think about Christmas in July!”
Mela’s Pantry stocks a variety of items, but among the most fun and unusual are 14,000 boxes of donated Girl Scout cookies, anchovies, squid and octopus!
To learn more about the Douglas/Elbert Task Force, visit detaskforce.org or call 303-688-1114. To donate food, toiletries, clothing, furniture and more, visit 1638 Park Street in Castle Rock. For large furniture donations, please call ahead as items are accepted on a space-available basis.