United Way’s 2015 Holiday Exchange Market serves 170 families | SteamboatToday.com

United Way’s 2015 Holiday Exchange Market serves 170 families

— Routt County United Way’s annual Holiday Exchange Market allowed 170 local families to shop for gifts and winter essentials during the one-day event Saturday.

Donations were collected at locations throughout the community during fall and then used to create a holiday market, at which local families in need could shop for winter clothing, gift cards and toys to help make their holiday seasons more special.

“We were really pleased with how everything went,” said Kate Nowak, executive director for Routt County United Way. “We felt it was the smoothest event we’ve had.”

Now in its second year, the Holiday Exchange Market uses a format in which families volunteer or pay $10 to participate and receive shopping tokens to trade for items donated by the community. Items include boots, gloves, coats, snow pants, toys and gift cards.

The Holiday Exchange Market last year replaced the previous United Way Holiday Wishes program, which had community members “adopting” families and purchasing specific presents for them.

Nowak said the event ran smoothly thanks to more than 120 volunteers who helped with setup, running the market and takedown Monday.

Especially helpful were many volunteers affiliated with Integrated Community who were able to help Spanish-speaking families navigate the market.

“They were really helpful because a lot of the clientele does speak Spanish,” Nowak said.

Nowak said that the market had most of the items it needed to serve all families, though adult-sized boots and snow pants were in short supply and ran out early in the day.

By the end of Saturday, all that remained were some children’s boots, a couple of coats and a few pairs of snow pants, Nowak said.

“For the most part, everybody was absolutely delighted with what we had,” Nowak said.

In addition to the items available in the market, Nowak said 10 bicycles donated by SmartWool and a children’s kitchen and dollhouse were raffled off separately to families.

“The people were extremely excited about that,” Nowak said.

Nowak said United Way was grateful to everyone who donated items and volunteered to make the market happen.

“Thank you to the community. We can’t do it without them,” she said.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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