Park City hotels band together to provide Thanksgiving meals to local families
When Brian Waltrip joined the hospitality industry in Park City about five years ago, he started a new holiday tradition with his fellow service-industry workers and management team: he invited those who did not have families in the area to a Thanksgiving dinner.
The upcoming holiday is one of Waltrip’s favorites because he said the emphasis is on spending time with family and friends, rather than giving presents. But, as a member of the service-industry, Waltrip recognized that most workers aren’t able to be with their families during the holidays.
Waltrip, who is the general manager of Westgate Park City Resort and Spa, said the gesture sparked another idea.
“It got me thinking about the people in our community that are with their families, but can’t afford to provide a nice meal for them,” Waltrip said. “I used to go to my grandparent’s house when I was younger, but you never thought about how those drinks and food got there. Not everyone has the ability to provide that for their family.”
About four years ago, Waltrip enlisted the services of Westgate’s executive chef to make Thanksgiving meals for 10 families in Park City. Waltrip selected the families with the help of the Park City School District.
This year, Waltrip is soliciting help from additional Park City-area hotels and is hoping to provide meals for 100 families. The meals will include a 15-pound turkey, potatoes, a cranberry dish, pies, stuffing, vegetables and bread.
“Last year, we walked into this one-bedroom apartment to deliver the meals like we always do and it was a family of six. There was no furniture and there were just mattresses strewn all over the room,” Waltrip said. “We started to bring in the food and the little boy said, ‘Why you doing this?’ He said, ‘Do you know my mom?’ He never expected generosity from a complete stranger and I knew then why we are doing this and that we had to expand it.”
At least eight hotels in Park City have already agreed to donate food and services to families in need for Thanksgiving, including the Montage, St. Regis and Stein Eriksen at Deer Valley Resort, Waldorf Astoria, Hyatt Centric Park City, Park City Mountain Resort, Grub Steak Restaurant and the Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel.
“The great thing about this community is that I simply emailed the general managers of some of the properties and the response was overwhelming to see,” Waltrip said. “Most said, ‘this is a great initiative and we would love to do it.”
The families will still be selected by the Park City School District, along with Wasatch Adaptive Sports to target additional families who can’t prepare the meal because of physical restraints.
Waltrip said he is also asking for help from restaurants and other organizations that would like to contribute.
“Our property and management team has always been willing to help and we would love to gather other people in the community who are also willing to contribute,” Waltrip said. “The more participation we have the better because there won’t be a shortage of individuals to serve.”
David Lockard, general manager of the Hyatt Centric Park City, said he has only been in Park City for about three months, but he “loves to give back to the communities he is a part of.”
“I always think of my colleagues who have to work that day and be away from their families, but I also think about others within the community who aren’t able to celebrate,” Lockard said. “We had already planned on feeding the Sheriff’s Office and the Police Department, but when Brian (Waltrip) called I thought it was an opportunity to be a part of something really special.
“I didn’t hesitate to say yes. We never want to leave any families out,” he said. “The more people that can participate it’s better for the community and we are excited to see it come to fruition. Hopefully, we will get more people involved.”
For information about how to participate or donate Thanksgiving meals for families in need, contact Brian Waltrip at 435-940-9444 or by email at email@example.com.
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The Summit County Fair returns this week.