There were sighs of relief across the country when the polls closed yesterday (followed, in some quarters, by cries of anguish). But nowhere were the sighs more heartfelt than at Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe, which had landed in the center of the storm after word went out that the family-run restaurant had declined an opportunity to be part of the Mitt Romney campaign.
Which is not to be confused with refusing to serve Mitt Romney - but plenty of people did confuse the two. See also: - Mitt Romney has an invitation to a family meal at Rosa Linda's - Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe becomes a campaign hate stop after Romney turn-down
As that confusion spread, the Aguirre family, which has run Rosa Linda's for close to thirty years, got threatening calls and e-mails from around the globe. But almost as quickly, support flooded in, with customers crowding into the storefront in northwest Denver. "It shows me how thankful my family and I are for our community," says Oscar Aguirre, eldest of five siblings who grew up at the restaurant founded by their parents, Virgil and Rosa Linda, and who now help run the place.
And this family has a very visible way of giving thanks. After the restaurant had survived its rocky first months, the family offered a free Thanksgiving feast to those in need - something Rosa Linda says she'd promised God for his help. (She'd converted to Mormonism as a teen, and Virgil had converted to Mormonism after marrying her -- which helps explains the Romney campaign interest.) What started out as a Thanksgiving meal for a hundred has grown into a feast for thousands - and Oscar expects this Thanksgiving to be the biggest year yet.
People have donated money, time and equipment, including a big refrigerator truck. "Friends are coming out of the woodwork," he says. "We're reaching out to everybody. People are taking ownership of it. This isn't just Rosa Linda's Mexican Cafe. This is our community. It's Denver itself. It's community-driven."
And the community should be out in force when Rosa Linda's holds a fundraising food drive on Tuesday, November 13, which will run from 5 p.m. until closing at the restaurant at 2005 West 33rd Avenue. The family is looking for non-perishables -- rice, beans, instant mashed potatoes, stuffing, chicken stock and canned green chiles - as well as plastic wear and disposable plates that can hold up to a big load of green chile and turkey. They're also asking their volunteers to bring lists of people in need, and they'll package up meals on Thanksgiving for those volunteers to deliver.
Want to help? Here are Oscar's instructions:
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Volunteers! Hi, all, it's time to get down and dirty in organizing this year's event.
There are 3 types of volunteers:
1) In-house volunteer
2) Delivery driver
1) In-house: We have 4 shifts available for the in-house volunteers but limited space! Keep in mind that the restaurant has only so much square footage and it's goal is to feed as many people with ease. VETERANS are given first priority and options. The shifts are the following: 6am-11am. 11am-2pm, and 2-6pm (closing... we need this the most). Private message me if you are a veteran of years past.
2) Delivery drivers: if you are willing to deliver food to various individuals or team up with a friend as a caravan to deliver food, bring a cooler with you, a GPS unit and a cell phone. Most of all, patience... Deliveries start at 9am and we will provide several lists... PATIENCE IS A MUST!!
3) Advocate! This is where you make this event YOURS!!!!!!!! We encourage you to reach out to YOUR community and get to know somebody. There are many groups out there who are underserved; you can help us Identify families or individuals from all walks of life who can use a helping hand; you can put together a care package and deliver it to them alongside a hot meal from Rosa Linda's.
This is where YOU take ownership and come with a list of families with the following info
Number of meals you want to give them:
Present a total number of meals you need (1-100) to the take-out coordinator. They will give you your meals requested...
You then deliver the meals to those on your list. Call them as you get close so they are waiting for you, and you get the satisfaction of helping somebody in need... This now becomes your event, and you are now our EYES & Ears in serving those in need!
We need more advocates than we need volunteers in house.
Places to look:
YOUR neighbor, low-income housing, Hospice care, Hospitals
More updates to follow
Thank you, Oscar