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"Kindness Trifecta": CCHS alums support local business, Foundation and neighbors through food truck night

The Yuan Wonton food truck visits the Orchard neighborhood. Good food has the power to unite a community.

Sharing a tasty meal can bring people together on a basic and primal level; breaking bread with friends, family and neighbors can create a sense of solidarity, even in times of crisis. Residents in The Orchard neighborhood in Greenwood Village recently discovered just how inspiring access to professionally cooked food can be, thanks to the hard work and creativity of a talented chef, a local food truck and creative Cherry Creek School District community members.

Julie Adams is a Cherry Creek High School alum, and both of her children graduated from the same school. She and her family were looking for ways to support the district, even as they were on the hunt for ideas to bring their neighborhood together during a time of unprecedented crisis.

The solution to both goals came in the form of a food truck owned and operated by Penny Wong, a local chef with an impressive resume as a culinary artist at local restaurants and country club. In the wake of the current COVID crisis, Wong was seeing dramatic cuts to business at her food truck Yuan Wonton, a mobile eatery that specializes in signature chili-garlic wontons, handmade dumplings and other Asian staples.

Adams and her family thought of a kindness “trifecta,” a way to benefit Wong’s business, the neighborhood and the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation.

“We decided to bring the food truck to our neighborhood and pay for the neighbors’ food; they in turn could make a donation to the Cherry Creek Schools Emergency Relief Fund. It was helping Penny, the Foundation and everyone who wanted something different to eat,” Adams said, adding that the idea quickly came together for a visit to the neighborhood on a Friday night. “The timing of it was perfect; we were about six weeks into the crisis, and people who had already made donations to other organizations were ready and excited to help the Foundation and the Emergency Relief Fund.”

Adams and her family devised a system for neighbors to collect their meals while practicing safe social distancing measures, and the response was immediate. Over a span of two hours, the food truck setup raised $5,000 for the Cherry Creek School Foundation’s Emergency Relief Fund, a resource designed to help support the entire CCSD community in a time of unprecedented crisis.

“People were so happy to be out and about. It was a fun thing – they took their dinner home; it was a beautiful night. It was a serendipitous event that came together,” Adams noted. “I was stunned.”

It wasn’t the first show of community support by Wong, who runs the food truck with her husband Rob. Since the outset of the COVID crisis, the food truck has contributed to local charitable efforts to provide meals to hospitals for patients and staff. Being able to support her business was one of the most appealing parts of hiring the food truck for the Adams family, as was the possibility of giving back to the Cherry Creek School District.

“Both of our kids were graduates, I was a graduate of Cherry Creek High School. We are a part of this community,” Adams said. “We’re invested in the district.”

For more information or to donate to the Cherry Creek Schools Emergency Relief Fund, please visit https://ccsdfoundation.org/cherry-creek-schools-emergency-relief-fund.html.

Posted 5/13/20 at 1:55 PM