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Kate Nowak: United local effort

— In my tenure as executive director of Routt County United Way, there have been a handful of moments that have done nothing short of take my breath away, moments where I was truly amazed by the generosity and kindness of spirit of this community. Our 2015 Holiday Exchange Market was one of those moments.

 I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of donations and volunteers this year. We are thrilled to know more than 180 Routt County families and their children will have a merrier, brighter holiday this year thanks to these wonderful donations and the more than 135 volunteers who helped the market run smoothly and successfully.

 We owe a debt of gratitude to this entire community. Some special thanks are due.



 To start, a big thank you to Colorado Mountain College for providing the facilities for the market — without CMC, the market would not have a home. Thanks to Colorado Group Realty for providing the truck that allowed us to transport the many donations to the college and to Integrated Community for providing the translation services for this event. Thank you to the Young Professionals Network and Steamboat Fire and Rescue for spending two weekends collecting and organizing donations for the market, and to Walmart and Sports Authority for hosting their collection efforts.

 Thanks, also, to the Kiwanis Club for orchestrating sox boxes and the many local businesses who collected and donated for the sox boxes. Thank you to the United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs, United Methodist Women’s Group and Holy Name Catholic Church for their donations, volunteers and organizing efforts.



 Thank you to everyone who hosted the community Mitten Board and collection boxes: Yampa Valley Bank, Alpine Bank, Mountain Valley Bank, Steamboat Springs Community Center, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, Yampa Valley Medical Center, Steamboat Today, Starbucks, South Routt Town Hall, Hayden Mercantile, Boys and Girls Club (also helped by cutting out our mittens), Off the Beaten Path and Ace Hardware.

 Another big thank you to SmartWool, who, in addition to hosting a Giving Tree, donated 10 new bikes and helmets, cut down and delivered 10 Christmas trees to families in need and purchased and painted new wooden toys for the market.

 Thank you to the following businesses who also helped make the market possible: Colorado Event Rentals (donated 20 large tables), Christy Sports (clothing racks), Waste Management (boxes for toy collection), Conroy Moving & Storage (boxes for toy collection) and Coca-Cola (beverages for market volunteers). We also greatly appreciate the many businesses that collected donations from their employees and delivered the lot to the market.

 Service clubs young and old participated in meaningful ways: Kiwanis (recruited more than 350 socks for their sock boxes), Rotary (gift wrapping and volunteers) and Lion’s Club ($500 in grocery gift cards). We also had Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs and National Honor Society, to name a few youth service clubs that participated. Finally, the Steamboat Arts Council (arts and crafts supplies) and Delectable Mountain Quilters Guild (mittens for adults and children) also contributed. We also thank Nancy Mucklow for providing food for the 135 volunteers and the Routt County Cattlewomen for providing their award-winning chili for a lunch.

 We could certainly — and wish we could — fill an entire newspaper with the list of businesses, organizations, volunteers and donors who made the Holiday Exchange Market so successful.

 Again, on behalf of myself, my board and my staff, thank you to everyone who donated and volunteered to make the 2015 Holiday Exchange Market such a success. Every donation made, every volunteer hour worked means one more child had a happier holiday this year.

 You’ve inspired me. And you’ve kept hope alive for those less fortunate among us.

 The merriest of holidays to you.

Kate Nowak

Routt County United Way

Executive director


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