Donations pour in for victims of fire | AspenTimes.com

Donations pour in for victims of fire

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

While some valley residents continue to cope with the loss of their homes and belongings in the Coal Seam fire, other residents are being encouraged to keep up the generous donations that can aid the healing process.

“Money donated to the Coal Seam fire provides shelter, food, water and both mental and physical health services,” said Robin Ziebert, branch manager for the Roaring Fork Valley Red Cross.

As of Thursday, the Coal Seam Disaster Relief Fund established at Alpine Bank had accrued $14,000 from private donors in the valley, in addition to the $25,000 the bank donated itself, said John Cooper, the bank’s head of marketing.

He said the outpouring from the public has been “incredible,” considering the fund grew almost $9,000 from Wednesday to Thursday. The money donated to the account goes to the American Red Cross, with a commitment from the agency that the fund will be used for Glenwood victims only.

“In other words, we have a commitment from them to honor all the donors’ intent for usage right here in Glenwood Springs,” Cooper said. “The western chapter of Colorado Red Cross has been very cooperative in that regard.”

He also said he continues to receive calls from prominent business owners in the Roaring Fork Valley who are prepared to make donations, as well as some individuals (including some Aspen locals) who have offered to replace some items lost in the fire.

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“I think all of this has been very emotionally draining, and your locals up there have been a tremendous help.”

Ziebert said she’s seen the outpouring of both clothing and nonperishable food – a phenomenon she said frequently follows disasters.

“Someone said to me today, ‘That could have been my house,’ and I think that’s how a lot of people feel,” Ziebert said. “We help each other, and money in the long term is what we need. You have to consider that this is the beginning of the fire season.”

After the controversy surrounding donations to the Red Cross in the wake of Sept. 11, Ziebert said it is important for the public to know that money donated to disaster relief funds will come back to local areas.

“People should know that if they just want to designate a donation to the Roaring Fork branch of the Red Cross, that’s great also because it will assist the whole community,” she said. “We essentially provide food and shelter when an area is being brought back to a pre-disaster state. For us, that’s usually fire, but there are avalanches and plane crashes as well.”

According to Mary Ann Virgili, director of the Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce, donations are still being collected around town. Defiance Thrift Store is accepting clothing and furniture donations which will be distributed to victims by firefighters.

Local churches accepting clothing include Good Shepherd and Methodist Church in Glenwood Springs. Lift-Up at the Sunnyside Retirement Home is accepting nonperishable food only.

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