Kate Nowak: Grateful to community

Routt County United Way, along with several key agencies and community partners, revamped our holiday program to help families and individuals in need while providing them a chance to participate in the process. Eight months of planning produced the Holiday Exchange Market, held over a long weekend in midDecember. 

Thanks to our wonderful community, the market was successful in helping 239 families and 833 individuals. Each family was able to have food, a winter clothing item or two per person and toys for their children.

We want to thank everyone in the community who donated new toys, winter clothing and food cards. We would also like to thank the Steamboat Pilot & Today for helping us get the word out that we were in desperate need of donations.

Two critical partners, Integrated Community and LIFT-UP of Routt County, helped build this event from scratch and implemented the program through to the end. Young Professionals Network volunteers and Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue helped collect donations in front of Walmart and downtown. The Lions Club, Kiwanis and many Rotary members donated time, money and food cards.

The United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs contributed many boxes of donations along with an army of volunteers at the market. Holy Name Catholic Church continued their giving tree and made many trips to the United Way office with donations. SkyWest Airlines employees collaborated to give to the market. Dr. Schrock’s office personnel decided to give to the market instead of to one another.

We teamed up with Teri and Gary Wall, of Toys for Tots, and collected more than 1,100 toys to help make children’s holidays festive. And several key donors contributed enough so that all could be helped. 

The logistics of putting on an event like this can be overwhelming. Thank you to Colorado Mountain College for donating space. And thanks to Routt County businesses, such as Colorado Event Rentals and Christy Sports, for contributing items to help create a welcoming venue where families could “shop.” 

The Bank of the San Juans contributed much-needed short-term storage for donations, and Colorado Group Realty donated its moving van to help us transport donations to the market. (We filled it to capacity twice.) Northwest Colorado Center for Independence provided transportation for those, disabled or not, who needed rides from Hayden, South Routt and North Routt to the market.

More than 127 volunteers donated their time to help make our first Holiday Exchange Market a success. Numerous organizations and companies volunteered, including the Steamboat Springs School District.

To say we were overwhelmed by the generosity of our community is an understatement — we were heart-warmed. Thank you to all for helping those in need in Routt County.

Kate Nowak

Director, Routt County United Way

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