Organizers of the Aspen Day of Giving had no idea how many people would show up to collect donated items ranging from winter clothing to gas gift cards at the inaugural event last year.
They were swamped.
“Over 500 people showed up. We didn’t know if anybody would show up,” said Susan Harvey, one of the founders.
The 2013 Aspen Day of Giving will take place Sept. 21 at St. Mary Catholic Church. Again, organizers can only guess at the demand. Sales tax revenue reports indicate that the economies of the Roaring Fork Valley towns picked up this year, but Harvey said the feeling is many people are struggling to get by.
The Aspen Day of Giving is designed to provide help to anyone who needs it, regardless of whether they live in the Aspen area or the region or are just passing through.
“Anyone in need, period,” Harvey said.
The focus right now is on collecting items such as quality, clean winter clothing, toiletries, school supplies, grocery gift cards, gas gift cards or money. Items can be dropped off Sept. 19 and Sept. 20 at St. Mary Catholic Church during business hours.
Volunteers to work the event also are being sought. They are needed on Sept. 19 and 20 to organize for the event and on Sept. 21 to work the event. Volunteers can contact Allison Daily at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Collecting items wasn’t a challenge last year. About 8,000 items were donated. Aspen hotels contributed a significant amount of linens, according to Harvey, and businesses donated products and services.
“We’ve gotten even more this year because people are familiar with it,” she said.
Now, organizers are focused on getting the word out to people who could benefit from the event. Harvey said anyone in any degree of need is welcome — from those struggling to make ends meet to those in more dire straits. There is no test on the basis of need.
“We just need to let people know they’re welcome,” Harvey said.
The only requirement is that people bring their own bags.
Last year, the people who received help were let into the main shopping or giving room 30 at a time, and they were allowed to “shop” for 30 minutes. They were allowed to get back in line if they so desired. Harvey said the event likely would be set up the same way this year, though more people might be allowed into the shopping room at any one time. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Mary’s.
Senior citizens will get access to the contributed items a day earlier, at 1:30 p.m. Anyone 60 or older qualifies.
The idea for the event popped up last year when Harvey, Laurie Murray and Cathy Lenyo talked about the need they witnessed as volunteers at Lift-Up, a food pantry. So many people who work two jobs to scrape by during the heart of winters and summers were underemployed or unemployed during offseasons, they said. They were living paycheck to paycheck and needed help through a slow time.
Harvey said there is little reason to believe the situation has changed this year.