A few weeks ago, Ranchlands Foundation and Chico Basin Ranch concluded our two-month effort in donating ground beef to those in need from COVID in the greater Colorado Springs community. Below are the reflections of Anja Stokes, who coordinated the project for us.
Most mornings on the ranch start bright and early. This time of year, rising way before the sun is advantageous when herds of 1000+ cattle depend on your hard work. They need water, intact fencing around their pastures, and long days by ranch hands spent on details most don’t realize – especially when temperatures are regularly between 90 and 100 degrees. Today was cloudy though, almost humid which is a rarity around here. A nice break. But those clouds, cooler temperatures, and moisture that filled the air felt all too (refreshingly) familiar – like my home in Oregon.
This morning of our seventh and final round felt different, perhaps calmer compared to the morning of our first donation when I was nervous not knowing who or what was going to happen. Would more people show up than signed up and we would run out of our calculated 10 lbs per family? Would fewer people, or no one show? Would the line of waiting cars block local traffic, and did we have enough help to make things run smoothly? As I drove the truck to our butcher for the meat, I felt calm about this final donation. By morning’s end, the last of our 700 families would have visited us at the Hanover Fire Department on Saturday mornings to each pick up 10 pounds of beef from cattle raised on the Chico.
As the coronavirus devastation spread swiftly across the world’s rural and urban communities, Ranchlands committed to helping. The ground beef donation is the best way Founder and CEO Duke Phillips III saw that we could contribute to families and households in need who had suddenly lost so much. In asking the question, “what can our ranch do to help,” it became obvious that providing a much-needed protein source was the answer. And when we realized that meat accessibility was going to drop, the ground beef donation idea was born.
What started as a one-time donation of 600 pounds instantly grew in scale due to the need. I recall the Tuesday morning Tess informed me that we’d pick up 1000 pounds of beef that Friday! I immediately contacted local schools and was worried about how we would confirm with enough families in time. That Tuesday night we sent an email to our community about the ground beef donation program, and the signup method was posted on our website. By the following morning, nearly 400 families had responded and our scope immediately changed. Now, at the end of our 7th round of donations, we have been fortunate to serve over 4,000 people in the Hanover community, along Colorado’s Front Range, and beyond.
On this morning of our final donation, I am filled with gratitude for the many people it took to make this all possible. The donations pushed us at Ranchlands to reach out to anyone we knew, and many that we didn’t, in order to make this work. These donations speak volumes about the community we have surrounding and supporting us, so our deepest thanks to you for jumping in to help. Each individual, family, and organization played a crucial role in one or more steps of the process. We have gained a new understanding of the strength of our community/network, and how it reaches far beyond our ranch gates. Times like these demand unity and a willingness to help in whatever ways we are all able as a community. May we continue supporting each other as the world navigates forward through the current crises (I do mean plural!) and beyond.
Many thank yous are in order. Firstly, to our incredible butcher who has asked to remain anonymous throughout the entire process. To our donors who provided the financial backing for the processing. To Chief Carl and the Hanover Fire Department for providing us a location to meet the 700 families, and for their continued help at each donation. To Teresa and her support team at the Hanover Outreach Center who were instrumental in our efforts to help our most immediate surrounding community. To the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain PBS, Koin 6, Ranchland News, and others. Without all of you coming and helping us spread the word, we would not have been able to help the number of families we did. Lastly, to those who came to help at any or all of the donations that took place, and the families who made the trip out to the fire department to meet us and receive beef.