After returning from a hiatus from the office following some holiday vacation days, I am back toiling at the laptop and find myself in a reflective mood.
In particular, I think of the trip I made to Denver in December to observe and take part in the Basket of Joy fruit basket donation effort.
The program, now in its 23rd year, began in 1988 at the suggestion of Dan Sutton, director of produce procurement for Albertsons LLC, Boise, Idaho.
Sutton wrote a letter to Woody Paige, then a columnist with The Denver Post, about the plight of two elderly sisters who had been victims of a swindle by a financial planner.
Sutton provided two fruit baskets for Paige to present to the sisters that year and the following Christmas the paper’s readers contributed enough money to distribute 5,000 fruit baskets to “socially isolated” senior citizens.
On Dec. 11 this year, the program donated 6,700 fruit baskets to senior citizens in the Denver area. Since its beginning, the Basket of Joy program has distributed more than 135,000 fruit baskets shared by more than 300,000 people.
A foundation associated with The Denver Post provides the nearly $40,000 needed to buy fruit and other supplies.
Coordinated by the Denver office of the Volunteers of America, about 300 volunteers help build the fruit baskets and up to 800 others deliver them. Sutton said children of some of the first volunteers now take part.
“It’s amazing,” Sutton said. “It has become a family tradition.”
Denny Gray, an asset manager in the Denver area, has helped organize Basket of Joy program from its outset.
Fruit baskets have been assembled at the Denver Mattress Factory for the past five years and that is expected to continue. Gray credited the company’s ongoing sacrifice and participation in the work.