Thanksgiving dinner offered for those in need

Posted 11/10/11

The fact John Martinez grew up an orphan helped him develop a special feeling for those in need and prompted him to start J.J. & Associates more …

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Thanksgiving dinner offered for those in need

Posted

The fact John Martinez grew up an orphan helped him develop a special feeling for those in need and prompted him to start J.J. & Associates more than 25 years ago to help them.

Again this year, he and organization volunteers will roll out the welcome mat to all who want to have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at Sheridan High School, 3101 W. Oxford Ave. The event is free and open to everyone, particularly individuals and families in Englewood and Sheridan.

Maria Cortez-Ramariz brought her children to last year’s Thanksgiving dinner.

“I am a single mom and I am raising my stepson and a nephew so things are very tight,” the Sheridan woman said. “We probably wouldn’t have a turkey dinner for Thanksgiving if it wasn’t for this event. We are so thankful for this meal. It is a wonderful treat for us. God bless J J and all the volunteers to help so many needy people.”

Martinez said he knows from experience what many of these people are going through.

“I was hungry at times growing up and I believe with all my heart that children should never go hungry,” he said. “We do what we can to help people in several ways. We gather and distribute school supplies plus, at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, we gather the donations and invite anyone who wants to join us to come and have a traditional meal with all the trimmings. At Christmas, there is Santa and I personally make sure every child receives a present.”

Martinez grew up in St. Vincent orphanage and attended Mullen High School when it was a boarding school.

Right after graduation, he joined the Army and, in 1968, he was sent to a base in the mountains of Vietnam. As it turned out, the base also was a few miles from an orphanage.

“I had no family growing up and I felt sorry for the kids at the orphanage,” the long-time Englewood resident said. “So, I asked several friends to send me cookies and I took them to the children. I tried to get there every week or so and the kids were always lined up waiting for me. It was a wonderful experience that touched my heart. When I got back to Colorado, I saw so many people in need that I wanted to do what I could to help them too.”

He said friend like Brad Pollock, Jerry Nave and Adrian Vigil helped him set up the foundation. Then, he and volunteers set up a Thanksgiving dinner, the foundation’s first event, at Fort Logan Elementary School in Sheridan. The number of people grew at each event and, after a couple years, the events were moved to Sheridan High School.

“We are a nonprofit organization supported completely by donations that all go into our programs. We don’t have a payroll and all the events are staffed by volunteers,” Martinez said. “I think we may be the smallest, poorest nonprofit organization around but we still manage to get out and help people.”

Martinez who coached and officiated high school sports, is now retired and said he spends a lot of his time working on foundation project.

He said generally, there are 25 to 30 volunteers who staff the events and it takes about $2,000 for the Thanksgiving meal usually attended by 200 to 300 people.

For more information about the organization, its events or to make a donation, write Martinez at J.J. & Associates, P.O. Box 1131, Englewood, CO. 80150-1131.

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