For three years, Tony Vanbeek has asked what items the Salvation Army needs for the holidays and the answer has always been the same: pies.

Vanbeek, a resident of Monument, rolled up to the Salvation Army Colorado Springs Corps Nov. 27 with a pick-up truck loaded with nearly 300 pies and 50 cans of whipped cream to donate to the outfit’s Thanksgiving efforts to feed people in need. Three years ago, Vanbeek saw a request on television from the Salvation Army for pie donations near the holidays, and he decided he could help. That first year, he collected enough funds to donate 100 pies, he said.

Since then, Vanbeek has asked for donations from friends and acquaintances using Monument establishments like Rosie’s Diner, Serranos Coffee Co. and the American Legion Tri-Lakes Post 9-11 as his prime locations to raise donation funds, he said. In addition, every year Vanbeek matches the fundraising total with his own money, dollar for dollar.

“I feel it’s a good cause, and I also have a lot of fun collecting money from my friends,” Vanbeek said. “And I’m not real particular. If they’re not my friends, I’ll take their money anyway.”

The Salvation Army has always been very grateful for his efforts, he said.

The day of this year’s donation, Vanbeek was aided by friends Mike Tadlock, Mike Graczyk, Dean Zastava and Walter Degraaf, among others, with the loading of the pies from Sam’s Club in Colorado Springs and with delivery. Vanbeek said his fundraising efforts usually start 2-3 weeks prior to Thanksgiving, ensuring he has enough time to order and pre-pay for the pies.

Although he has made the annual donation just prior to Thanksgiving, Vanbeek said the Salvation Army is in need of donations year-round. He hopes word of his efforts each year will help inspire others to donate as well, especially with Christmas less than a month away.

“I can only do so much,” Vanbeek said. “This is my thing for now. … It grows and I hope to do it again next year.”

Vanbeek is an Army veteran whose service includes two years stationed at Fort Carson.

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