Editor's note: Denver7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (720) 462-7777. Find more Denver7 stories here.
WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- When fire evacuees reached out to Contact Denver7 for help providing meals, we answered the call thanks to generous donations to the Denver7 Gives wildfire relief fund.
If anyone is in need of comfort food, it is the people who have been forced out of their homes by fire and now ice.
"They're asking people to please not to come back up there, they're having to rescue people off the side of the road," said Kate Balwin, who was evacuated from Estes Park because of the fires and has been staying at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Denver - Westminster with 270 other fire evacuees.
The Red Cross has provided shelter for 2,600 evacuees and people affected by the fires in 36 hotels across the state. The typical gym and school shelters are not allowed because of COVID-19 protocols. They're paying for hotel rooms, providing supplies and snacks, but not all meals for evacuees.
"People keep asking me what they need. The biggest thing was food," said Angie Harper, the General Manager for the DoubleTree, who said her staff worked overtime to serve 450 free meals. "It was a group effort. My chief engineer was cooking pasta."
Meanwhile, local restaurants, including Frolic Brewery and several food trucks, have also donated food and served meals.
"Right now is an important time for everyone to dive in and help each other," said Holly Door, the owner of Little Red's Kitchen, who served a lunch of tomato bisque and grilled cheese sandwiches. "It's snowy and cold outside so we thought it would be a good reminder of home and comfort."
When evacuees reached out to Contact Denver7 for help, we stepped up to help them, thanks to generous donations to the Denver7 Gives Wildfire Relief Fund, offering to provide breakfast and lunch on Tuesday for any evacuees still saying at the hotel tomorrow.
"Colorado is awesome. I love my state. Everybody pulls together when they need to," said Lisa Gonzales, an evacuee who is waiting for the green light to go home with her family. "If somebody is sliding off the road just trying to get home, they have enough to do there, they don't need to worry about us sliding off the road and creating any more problems."
Denver7 Gives has started a new fundraising campaign for victims of Colorado's wildfires. To donate, go here and then look for "Help Colorado Wildfire Victims" in the dropdown. We are working with our community partners up and down the Front Range to ensure every dollar raised stays in Colorado and helps families who've lost so much.