More thankful than ever: Groups to provide free Thanksgiving meals |

More thankful than ever: Groups to provide free Thanksgiving meals

Winter Park Resort employees and community members gather at Cranmer Chapel for a Thanksgiving meal in 2016. This year's meal will be to-go due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Courtesy of Cranmer Dinners

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information for another free Thanksgiving Meal at Sagebrush BBQ & Grill.

With the county reeling from both the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating East Troublesome Fire, community partners have stepped up to ensure no one goes without this Thanksgiving.

For Cranmer Chapel, free Thanksgiving dinners have been a 22 yearlong tradition. Created with Winter Park Resort employees in mind, but open to all, the meal was typically a way for seasonal workers to make friends.

Due to COVID, the meals this year will be served to go. Cranmer Chapel treasurer Gary Piper conveyed the church’s disappointment that the meal couldn’t include the socialization, but the most important part is still getting a good meal to anyone who needs it.

“We just felt, even though we couldn’t do it indoors, that there was probably a bigger need this year than other years,” Piper said.

Meals will be served to-go style from 5-7 p.m. Thanksgiving Day at the Cranmer Chapel parking lot, 75 High Country Drive, Winter Park. All in Grand County are invited to stop by and grab a meal.

The chapel will also continue its tradition of free meal nights every other Friday through the ski season beginning Dec. 4, though these will also be to-go.

Last Thanksgiving, Cranmer served 150 meals and ran out of food right at closing. The church won’t be the only group serving a free dinner for the holiday, however.

In Grand Lake, Sagebrush BBQ & Grill is partnering with the Daven Haven Lodge and Chef Taj Cooke to provide free meals to first responders and victims of the East Troublesome Fire.

Prepping will be at the Daven Haven and the hope is to feed 200 to 300 people from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Those who lost their homes also have the option to dine in at Sagebrush. Evacuees can call owner Brenda Freeman at 970-531-6841 to make a reservation.

For the rest of the community, Sagebrush will be offering free curbside pickup of Thanksgiving meals from 2-5 p.m. Freeman is asking reservations for those meals be made by Tuesday and interested parties can call 970-627-1404.

Community Thanksgiving meals have long been a tradition for Grand Lake, but this will be Sagebrush’s first year as the host.

“We want to support our community and start doing it on an annual basis,” Freeman said.

River Run RV Resort will also be serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal free to the community. General Manager Dave Huber explained why the resort wanted to give back.

“Coming from a rural background, I’m always amazed at how the community can come together and help support each other during really tough times,” Huber said. “I think with COVID and the East Troublesome Fire, you see that every day in Grand County.”

The dinner will be served from 4-6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day for curbside pickup at the event center. Residents can reserve their dinner by emailing with their name, number of family members and phone number. River Run will respond with a confirmation and pickup time.

There’s no deadline for reservations, but anyone who would like a meal is asked to reserve as early as possible to ensure availability. More than 75 people have already signed up, according to Huber.

“(It will) hopefully make a little less stress and add a little bit of joy on a holiday that, after this year, really does make you sit back and think about what you’re thankful for,” Huber said.

He emphasized that River Run’s efforts were one of many by businesses and community groups across the county during these trying times.

For those who are able to and want to support a local business with a purchase of a Thanksgiving meal, the Winter Park & Fraser Chamber has compiled a list of Fraser Valley restaurant offerings for Thanksgiving Day. Many other restaurants across Grand County are also selling holiday specials.

If other businesses or organizations would like to be added to this article, please email

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