Food drive held for Help & Hope program

More than 1,200 pounds of food donated at UCHealth Highlands Ranch Hospital

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The Highlands Ranch community answered the call for food donations, giving more than 1,200 pounds at the UCHealth Highlands Ranch Hospital food drive.

The event was part of the annual Denver Day of Service hosted by the Denver Broncos and Mile High United Way on June 4.

Donations will go to the Help & Hope Center, headquartered in Castle Rock. Help & Hope Manager Steve Rivoir said community food drives play an important role in feeding more than 450 families in Douglas and Elbert counties.

Rivior said Help & Hope provide families with more than 100,000 pounds of food per month. Rivior said while local grocery stores provide produce and bread, food drives bring in 75% of the organization's canned and packaged food.

“This has been great today,” Rivior said. “People are giving, and they are giving a lot.”

Sophie Vanwyk, nurse manager at the Highlands Ranch hospital, took the lead in organizing the partnership between Help & Hope and UCHealth.

Vanwyk said she and hospital staff wanted to go beyond helping patients inside.

“We wanted to bring all the good things we do in the hospital outside,” she said. “We want to be a part of the Highlands Ranch community and not just in the capacity of serving patients.”

Besides getting the community involved, Vanwyk also got the UCHealth hospital staff involved throughout the week. With themed days, Vanwyk said donations poured in for Mac and Cheese Monday, Taco Tuesday and Water Wednesday.

Besides members of the hospital and Help & Hope staff, the June 4 food drive had help from Empower staff and the Denver Broncos cheerleaders.

As a Broncos cheerleader, Miranda Virgil said attending community events to help others is her favorite part of the job.

Ann Schork, of Highlands Ranch, said as a part of the Empower team, she is excited they offer volunteer opportunities to help local programs such as Help & Hope.

“It's great to get out here and do something for a great cause,” she said.

Also volunteering as a representative for Empower was Aurora resident Robin Lucas. Lucas said there are so many sad stories of people needing help in the Denver metro area that volunteering for a cause where some of those people will get help is worth a few hours of her day.

Vanwyk said UCHealth Highlands Ranch Hospital will continue hosting food drives, with another planned in August.

The food donated on June 4 was transported back to Help & Hope headquarters in the redesigned ambulance donated to the organization from UCHealth.

To learn more about the Help & Hope program, visit the website at helpandhopecenter.org.

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