DENVER — This year, it can be easy to forget the many blessings in life, especially for people like Chef Tajahi Cooke, who has lost so much.
"I was the executive chef of Biju’s Curry Shop and we had to close up shop in February. Due to the situation that we’re going through, watching friends lose their restaurants, watching former employees hurt, just watching the community hurt in general," Chef Tajahi Cooke said. "(It's) extremely difficult to say the least."
Still, Cooke wanted to do something for others to spread a little hope for the Thanksgiving holiday.
"We wanted to be a support for the community. We wanted to step up again and this time we wanted to do it with intention," Cooke said.
Last year, Cooke and his wife served more than 500 Thanksgiving meals to people in need. This year, the pair, along with a group of local chefs, began a GoFundMe page and raised nearly $10,000 to celebrate their second annual Madsgiving.
"This is honestly friends, a group of friends coming together, a group of chefs that stopped for a period of time to not focus on themselves, but focus on someone else," Cooke said. "Take all that energy that we would normally put into the prettiest plate that we would do and put that magic and love into a dish for someone who truly deserves it."
That love was not lost on the deserving. Cooke and his colleagues cooked up 2,000 meals at The Broadway Market and on Thanksgiving, hit the streets to deliver warm meals to the homeless, the hungry and families at the Salvation Army's Lambuth Family Center.
"I think sometimes when families are experiencing homelessness, they feel like, maybe, no one cares about them, that they’re kind of forgotten in the community, so when community members approach us to help and give them this wonderful meal, it means the world to them," said Kyra Moon, program manager for the Salvation Army's Lambuth Family Center.
In a holiday season when many are experiencing some kind of loss, maybe the real blessings arise from connection and how people choose to take care of each other.
"Right now we need to help," Cooke said. "The next two years are gonna be rough and if we aren’t able to help our fellow neighbors, we’re not gonna be able to get out of this all together strong. You can’t have a weak link in a chain, so we all need to get outta of this. That’s the mindset."
Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.