DENVER -- Healthcare workers at six area hospitals received a warm meal on Thanksgiving as a way to show gratitude for their work on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.
"I want the hospital workers to know they’re not forgotten, and that’s why we’re doing this whole fundraiser and this dinner," said Aviva Sonenreich, an organizer with Feed the Frontline.
Feed the Frontline is an effort started by two Denver natives back in March. At the time, the group raised $35,000 and fed thousands of frontline workers during the first few months of the pandemic. Sonenreich thought their work was done until they received a call from Denver Health a week and-a-half ago.
"They were encouraging us to start it again," said Nathan Schweid, an organizer.
They immediately launched another fundraiser, bringing in $14,000 in a little more than a week. It was important to the group to deliver meals on Thanksgiving so they called Hank's Texas Barbecue with a last minute order.
"As chefs and restaurateurs that’s how we show our love, so the amount of love that’s gone into these turkeys... we’ve been here all night, so it’s an amazing opportunity to be able to give back," said Katie Thompson, one of the owners of Hank's Texas Barbecue.
Hank's prepared 1,500 meals with the help of other partners in the industry. White Paper BBQ and River Bear American Meats donated their smokers for the day and US Foods donated a refrigerated truck to help store the turkeys.
"I think that speaks volumes of our community," said Thompson.
Feeding the Frontline is looking beyond Thanksgiving, too. The group hopes to raise $50,000 to continue feeding frontline workers over the coming months. You can make a donation here.
Another group called Feeding Colorado Heroes is also relaunching its effort to feed doctors, nurses and hospital staff. The group has a fundraising goal of $75,000 and says they are in it for the long haul.
"We’re talking to hospital administrators who are sometimes in tears on the phone saying, you don’t understand how much this means to us, to know that our community is supporting us in this particular way,' they look forward to these meals," said Gretchen TeBockhorst, the founder of Feeding Colorado Heroes.
TeBockhorst says the renewed effort also comes at a time when restaurants need additional support too. Indoor dining is no longer allowed in Denver, so placing a large order for a hospital can offer a big boost in revenue.
More information about Feeding Colorado Heroes is available here.