By Conor McCue

DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – On Thursday, hundreds of Denver families will receive a proper Thanksgiving meal, thanks to the return of a longtime tradition. Starting at 11 a.m., the Epworth Foundation and Daddy Bruce Legacy Foundation, will work with local food truck owners to offer warm meals outside Epworth United Methodist Church.  

It’s a throwback to the way Denver restauranteur and philanthropist Daddy Bruce Randolph gave back to the community for the better part of three decades.  

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The tradition started in 1963, when Bruce cooked meals with his barbeque for about 200 people at City Park. After that, he moved the event to outside his restaurant, which was located at the corner of 34th Avenue and Gilpin Street, and fed the community every year.  

(credit: CBS)

“He said he wanted to be like Jesus and feed 5,000,” said Reverend Ronald Wooding, executive director of the Daddy Bruce Legacy Foundation.  

“It wasn’t just people that needed a meal, it was a social event.”  

The tradition continued until Bruce’s death in 1994. After that, churches and community groups have organized food basket giveaways every year to continue Bruce’s mission.  

(credit: CBS)

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This year, supply chain issues affected the ability of several stores to donate food, so the groups gave more than 6,000 families $35 Walmart gift cards, which amounts to what they spent on each basket in a normal year.  

That change then inspired the group to pivot again. Now, they’ll return to the way things used to be and feed 500 people on Thanksgiving Day.  

“There are a lot of new people, a lot of young people, a lot of new single families moving into the area, and they don’t really know the history because they haven’t been here,” said Jeff Kanost, pastor at Epworth United Methodist Church. “We can re-introduce them to what’s actually happened here.” 

The meals will be provided outside Epworth United Methodist Church, and it will be first come first served. Two of the three food trucks will be provided by Denver native Ty Allen.  

Ty Allen (credit: CBS)

“This really hits home for me,” Allen said. 

Allen, who owns Mississippi Boys Catfish and Ribs in the Park Hill neighborhood, called it an honor to continue the tradition started by Daddy Bruce.  

“It’s not just an opportunity to promote a business, but it’s an opportunity to bring people together in this neighborhood,” Allen said. “I am overly joyed at this opportunity to serve the community again.”  

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The event will start at 11 a.m. and continue until about 2 p.m. Epworth United Methodist Church is located at 3401 High Street.  

Conor McCue