Our View: Spirit of the season evident in Routt County | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Spirit of the season evident in Routt County

Something particularly special takes place in Routt County each holiday season, fueled by a collective desire to give to those who might otherwise not be able to give to themselves. It's called the United Way Holiday Wishes program, and the community proved again this year that the spirit of the season is alive and well in the Yampa Valley.

The Holiday Wishes program provides gifts for local families and individuals struggling financially. The program's recipients are nominated by area health and human service organizations, including schools, to make sure only those truly in need are "adopted." And it's after the gift lists are compiled that the true selflessness of the community shines through.

This year, 140 donor groups — a donor group can be an individual, a family, a group of friends, a business, a service club, etc. — came forward to adopt 391 families that were part of the Holiday Wishes program. The remaining 63 families nominated to this year's program were provided for with $8,850 in gift cards purchased by Routt County United Way using funds from community donations.

The Holiday Wishes program purchased gifts for a total of 1,194 community members this year, including 424 children and 169 senior citizens. The effort to buy all those gifts was accomplished through significant volunteer efforts, including Steamboat Springs firefighters who gathered in front of Walmart on successive weekends to hand out gift idea slips to entering customers, and by the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs and the Young Professionals Network, which banned together to take over hosting duties of the city's annual community holiday party last weekend. The free party combined tubing, caroling and other festive activities with an effort to collect gifts for the Holiday Wishes program. The Rotary Club was able to adopt 95 of the families in the Holiday Wishes program and to collect more than 1,200 gifts through its work.

The heart-warming efforts of everyone involved in this year's Holiday Wishes program means Christmas Day will be a lot brighter for the 1,194 community members who will have presents to unwrap thanks to the generous giving of others. So, it is in the spirit of the season that we offer a heartfelt thanks to all who came together to again make this wonderful program such a resounding success.