MONTE VISTA— After a 25-year hiatus serving free Thanksgiving dinner, the Monte Vista Elks Lodge #2456 is back in the charitable enterprise— and in a big way.
The lodge was open to the public for Thanksgiving dinner from 1 to 4 p.m. and served some 120 people, including needy families, elderly folks and individuals with no means or family with whom to spend the holiday. One such attendee was a woman who brought her four grandchildren who she is raising.
“We have a large number of grandparents in the Valley who raise their grandkids,” said Monte Vista Elks Lodge chairperson Benjamin Gibbons, who is also an attorney in Monte Vista. “And, as our court judges say, we’re very glad in the Valley for our grandparents.”
Each year, the Monte Vista Elks Lodge receives several grants from the Elks National Foundation. The lodge has been using those grants to help fund local scholarships, the Monte Vista Food Bank and Kids Connection. This year, elks lodge members decided to harken back to the olden days by throwing a free turkey dinner with all the trimmings. “We wanted to do something different for the community than what we normally do,” Gibbons said. “We felt there were a number of seniors and other folks we could bring together who might otherwise have spent the holiday by themselves.”
Skyline Potato donated potatoes, Sunflour Bakery provided pies and Top Value gave a significant discount on turkeys. Lodge members pulled together the event and cooked up food, while volunteers from the Elks Lodge, Monte Vista Fire Department and Nazarene Thrift Store helped serve the meal. The lodge also held a raffle every 30 minutes for fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, and the fire department gave away fire-safety coloring books and crayons to the kids.
The Elks Lodge was the only free dinner held in Monte Vista on Thanksgiving Day, and the day of giving continued with the donation of extra food to the La Puente Home in Alamosa.
“All of our volunteers felt this was a very worthwhile effort,” Gibbons said, “and we hope to continue this on an annual basis.