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This Thanksgiving, Jean Woolsey is planning to host a dinner for a lot of people – and the guests are not the usual family and friends.As the director of Mountain Springs Helping Hands Food Pantry, Woolsey’s Thanksgiving guests are the families in need living on the eastern plains. “Last year, we helped about 100 families,” she said. “I’m guessing this year will be the same or much higher.”On average, Woolsey said the pantry helps between 200 and 300 families of all ages. “We see a lot of elderly,” Woolsey said. “But we also have some families with small children.” Several families – about 20, she said – travel from Limon, which is more than 70 miles one way. The families car pool to Falcon about every two weeks because there is no food pantry in Limon.Peoples needs vary, so volunteers try to fulfill requests for specific items as best as they can. Requests include furniture, appliances, computers, and one person asked for a car, Woolsey said. Although Care & Share provides about 90 percent of the food at the pantry, food donations are always welcome and needed. “I have a budget that I follow from Mountain Springs Church, which I follow closely,” Woolsey said.She is hoping to fill the pantry with all the regular Thanksgiving holiday fixings, including turkeys. However, Woolsey is not sure how she’ll work out the storage issues for items like turkeys.Most clothing items at the pantry are plentiful. “We don’t need any clothes,” she said. “We have two pole barns full of clothes that we have volunteers sorting through, but we could always use winter clothes, hats, mittens and blankets. Those things go right away.”Cash donations are always a plus for the pantry. Woolsey said they can always use the money to purchase what they don’t receive in donations.Although her shopping list is never complete, Woolsey says her desire to open a food pantry and help those in need is a labor of love – not just at Thanksgiving but also year round.The Mountain Springs Food Pantry is located near Falcon Storage at 14755 E. U.S. Highway 24. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays. For more information, call the Falcon food pantry at 1-888-HLPHAND (1-888-457-4263).Note: For those interested in making a monetary donation and receiving a tax deduction, checks must be written to Mountain Springs Helping Hands or Mountain Springs Food Pantry.

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