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Restaurant workers assembling food bags

RidgeGate Up Close

  • July 9, 2020
  • Jessica McCaa

Elaine Caras, Lone Tree Feeds & City of Lone Tree

“RidgeGate Up Close” is our series of interviews with people who make RidgeGate a more vibrant place. Read the unexpected stories of residents, workers and local leaders who live and work here. Know someone who has a unique perspective or life in RidgeGate? Contact us at info@ridgegate.com.

This month: Elaine Caras, Event Manager for the City of Lone Tree and instrumental in the Lone Tree Feeds program.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that brought life as we know it to a halt, small acts of kindness were still aplenty. The cumulative effect of one group’s generosity in Lone Tree became known as “Lone Tree Feeds,” a program pairing essential workers in Douglas County with local restaurants who had seen a sharp decline in patrons. We spoke with Elaine Caras, Event Manager for the City of Lone Tree, about the success of the program and future efforts they are planning to simultaneously support businesses and our local heroes.

How did Lone Tree Feeds come to fruition?Portrait of Elaine Caras

A group of concerned Lone Tree residents – Julie Britti, Joanie Brooks, Mike Parr and former Mayor Jim Gunning – approached our current Mayor, Jackie Millet, about finding a way to support the local restaurant industry, while showing our appreciation for our essential workers. We then paired the financial contributions from the community with restaurants willing to participate…which wasn’t a hard sell.

How many restaurants ended up participating in Lone Tree Feeds?

We had 39 different restaurants throughout Lone Tree help us distribute breakfast, lunch, dinner, and coffee to our essential workers — it was amazing! Some of our meals were donated by the restaurants themselves, but most of our donations came from residents in the community.

Fire Station

How much money were you ultimately able to raise in support of both restaurants and essential workers?

We raised roughly $33,000 through Lone Tree Feeds to support both restaurants and our local essential workers while the rest of us were supposed to stay at home. We had 174 individual donations from early April until the end of the program on June 4th. Coventry Development, the master developer for RidgeGate, also provided a significant contribution to the program.

I understand the City of Lone Tree also put a special program in place for your own employees?

Yes, the City purchased meals from local restaurants for our frontline workers – folks in public works, the police department, etc. It was our way of recognizing the important role they play.

Some are predicting a second surge of the virus. Would the City consider reactivating Lone Tree Feeds?

Absolutely, hands down. So many of our donors are also residents here. They want to continue to see their favorite local restaurants thrive, while helping the heroes in our community.

The City has also recognized the continued need for food for the community at large. How are you partnering with restaurants to help feed the broader community?

We also created a non-perishable food drive in partnership with specific local restaurants who are promoting specials on our behalf. The City is distributing the food to various local food banks in Douglas County.

What do you think you will take away from this surreal pandemic experience?

I keep thinking about that popular song “See You Again” [by Wiz Khalifa]…

It’s been a long day without you, my friend
And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
We’ve come a long way from where we began
Oh I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again

…It’s so apropos right now, having lost so many people to this virus, having locked ourselves away from our neighbors for so long. But this isn’t going to beat us. We’ve come a long way.

People walking in front of building

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