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The tradition continues. A Daddy Bruce Thanksgiving
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Quincy & Emani volunteering at Daddy Bruce Thanksgiving

The frenzy of activity started Friday night as roads in Denver’s Five Points district were blocked off. Walmart trucks dropped off pallets of food before sunrise Saturday, and a small army of volunteers turned Bruce Randolph Avenue into an assembly line, complete with a conveyer belt.

By 8 a.m., two lines of cars had all but stopped traffic. One line of cars was for folks picking up food for their own families; the other was for people who had signed up as delivery volunteers.

Pastor Jeff Kanost of Denver’s 130-year-old Epworth United Methodist Church said he was thankful for the sunny weather.

It was the 56th year of the Thanksgiving food giveaway launched by restaurateur “Daddy” Bruce Randolph, who would be 120 years old if he were alive today. The annual program has continued since Randolph’s death in 1994, organized by the nonprofit Daddy Bruce Randolph Legacy Foundation and the Epworth Foundation. The theme this year was “Imagine No More Hunger.”

Colorado Voices

Daddy Bruce Thanksgiving Event 2020


Denver Icon Daddy Bruce's legacy lives on, feeding 56,000 Coloradans.

Randolph was born in 1900 and opened his Five Points barbecue restaurant in 1963. He had a reputation for never turning anyone away, even if they couldn’t pay. Today a street and school are named in his honor.

Quincy Shannon and his daughter Amani, who live in Park Hill, have volunteered at the annual Daddy Bruce Thanksgiving food distribution for the past seven years. They find it a great way to connect with their community. “It's an opportunity to give back but also keep a legacy of someone who we think important alive,” Shannon said.

On Saturday, upbeat soul music kept them, and other volunteers, dancing and laughing while they loaded boxes into the seemingly never-ending line of cars.

“I love the statement ‘I am because we are, and we are because I am,’ and that’s what’s embodied here in the heart of this community,” Shannon said.

All in all, volunteers packaged nearly 7,500 Thanksgiving "baskets,” as the cardboard boxes distributed at the event have been called for decades -- well over the usual 5,000. The Daddy Bruce foundation’s executive director, Rev. Ronald Wooding, said nearly 56,000 people will be fed this year through the program.

Wooding is especially thankful this year. He took over operations of the foundation in 2004, but had to miss the event last year because he was in the hospital with cancer. But “God has a plan,” he said. In the hospital he met the “good folks from the Kodiak Building Partners, who this year became a generous $50,000 sponsor,” he said.

Organizers estimate that nearly 600 volunteers worked over the course of this year’s event to package and distribute meals.

One of them identified himself as Michael, who said: “You've got to help out your community, especially with people in need, especially with COVID and everything going on.”

Michael picked up 14 boxes of food to deliver to the Green Valley Ranch neighborhood, saying he was happy to give up his Saturday morning because “we all need to be thankful for what we have."

Mark, who volunteered for the first time this year, says “I've always had food on my table my entire life and this year it's harder on a lot of families. So, I just wanted to share my blessings.” His car fit 10 boxes, so that’s what he delivered, with his dog accompanying him in the front passenger seat.

One woman chose to pick up her basket herself. “COVID has got us all jacked up!” she said. “You’ve got to mask up, gear up, and we’re thankful to Daddy Bruce for doing this for many, many years.” Her companion chimed in with “thank you, thank you, thank you!” from the passenger seat.

Elder King Hezekiah Harris used to be the pastor at Epworth United Methodist Church. Now he’s the man “behind the scenes,” moving pallets with a forklift or whatever else is needed.

"I don’t believe anything is stronger than love,” he said. “So, our need is to love one another and to treat each other with the kind of respect and dignity that we deserve.”

Watch the recently released documentary on Daddy Bruce:

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