United Way's Holiday Exchange Market fills stockings, hearts in Steamboat Springs with holiday cheer | SteamboatToday.com

Holiday Exchange Market fills stockings, hearts with holiday cheer

Local residents unload toys for the Holiday Exchange Market in 2016. Efforts in the community this year resulted in enough donations for the market and also allowed Routt County United Way to reach out to other agencies to offer help.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Kate Nowak, director of the Routt County United Way, said last weekend’s Holiday Exchange Market was one of the most successful to date.

“We are incredibly grateful here at United Way for the total community support,” Nowak said. “This program would not happen without that community support.”

The 2018 Holiday Exchange Market served nearly 200 families in Routt County, and there were enough items left over to reach out to other agencies in an effort to serve more people. The program allows families to come to the Colorado Mountain College and select from a number of donated items in a market setting.

The families were nominated by local human services organizations and were required to volunteer or pay a nominal fee to take part in the Holiday Exchange Market.

“All of our kids coats went to families in the community,” said Amber DeLay, United Way program director. “But we were still able to reach out to some of our partner agencies to ask if they knew of families in need. We were able to serve more families than were signed up.”

Nowak thanked the community for a late push before the market that allowed the agency to serve all the families that signed up.

“The biggest thing that I got out of this year’s Holiday Exchange Market was that the families were so grateful and so happy with what they were able to secure out of the market,” Nowak said. “We had enough donations, which really makes it fun.”

She said United Way is still looking for bell ringers to fill shifts on Friday, Dec. 21 and Sunday, Dec. 23. The bell-ringing program continues from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day through Christmas Eve.

“It’s great for groups, it’s great for kids and you can bring your dog,” Nowak said. “It’s a great opportunity to get involved in the community.”

She said those who still want to give to the community during the holidays can donated to United Way’s special needs fund that is used throughout the year when families in need are looking for a little help.

“It’s designated funding for just that kind of thing,” Nowak said. “It’s usually used when all other resources have been utilized like LiftUp of Routt County, the Routt County Department of Human Services and Integrated Community. It’s kind of a last resort fund for the community, and so we are always looking for donations for that.”

She said January is also a great time for those who want to volunteer.

“There are plenty of volunteer opportunities throughout our community with other human services organizations,” Nowak said. “There are a number of different agencies that have special trainings coming up in January for volunteers and that would be the time to sign up.”

For more information, visit https://www.routtcountyunitedway.org.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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