Last year, John Saunders and Bill Clarke watched 2,400 people pile into the amphitheater at Philip S. Miller Park in Castle Rock for the annual concert they cofounded, Castle Rock Summer Jam.
After headliners The Fray wrapped up, Saunders and Clarke handed a $10,000 check raised through ticket proceeds and business sponsorships to The Foundation for Douglas County Schools. The men raise funds for a local cause each year through the concert.
This year went differently. John's daughter, Katie, and Bill's daughter, Katelyn, helped fundraise $10,000 despite COVID-19 canceling the 2020 Summer Jam concert. Elle King was supposed to headline.
On July 30, the 15-year-olds handed a check to Dan Marlow, executive director of the Douglas/Elbert Task Force's Help & Hope Center, on the amphitheater stage in front of empty seats. Katie said she wanted to ensure something positive came out of” the canceled event.
To Marlow, that's more important than ever. Demand for rent and utility assistance from the center has spiked approximately 30%, he said. Eviction moratoriums lifted. Stimulus funds waned. People are still losing jobs, he said.
The center also had to double its food bank budget in April, May and into June. The Help & Hope Center gets supplies through a food rescue program and would typically receive one to two pallets of food a day from grocery stores clearing out shelves.
For months, Marlow said, the pandemic's blow to supply chains meant grocery stores no longer had those pallets of food to give the center. Supplies are more available now, he said, but demand for food assistance is still up slightly.
Marlow is not sure how long demand will stay high, but he expected “it to be crazy” through the end of 2020.
“It's hard to predict anything in this environment,” he said.
Saunders and Clarke said they waited until the last possible minute to cancel this year's show, which would have been the fourth annual Summer Jam. Once Red Rocks Amphitheatre canceled shows into August, they knew it was time to cancel their show as well.
Saunders and Clarke said they hope it will inspire other fundraisers canceled by COVID to continue raising support for the community.
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