Locals step up to aid refugees | AspenTimes.com
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Locals step up to aid refugees

Tim Mutrie

A number of valley residents have organized relief efforts locally to generate funds and much-needed supplies for Kosovar refugees in the war-torn Balkan region of south-central Europe.

The Basalt Community United Methodist Church, 200 East Homestead Drive, is gathering materials for health kits and assembling them for use at refugee camps, according to Marie Gasau, the church’s pastor.

The kits consist of a hand towel, washcloth, bath-size bar of soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, a nail file, and six Band-Aids, Gasau said. The church is requesting donations of any and all of the above materials, as well as financial donations.

“The kids are leading the relief effort,” Gasau said. “We sure have got a savvy bunch of kids in this town.” Two groups of youngsters – kindergartners through fourth-graders and a middle school-aged group – are spearheading the effort, she said.

Gasau explained that the health kit materials will be packaged into sealable plastic bags and sent to the United Methodist Committee on Relief in Louisiana on April 26.

“What I think is cool about this is that these kids are aware of this genocide that’s going on and they’re doing something about it,” she said.

Gasau said checks toward the relief effort should be made out to the Basalt Community United Methodist Church. Donations can be dropped off at the church just about anytime.

A group of students at Basalt High School, led by the school’s Diversity Club, is also taking steps to assist in the relief effort for Kosovar refugees.

“Right now there’s a bunch of different ideas floating around and nothing’s been established,” said sophomore Jen Donovan, president of the Diversity Club. “We’re in contact with Red Cross people and we’re waiting to get assigned something to do. If we don’t, we’ll figure it out ourselves.”

“The kids are trying to raise relief monies and they went on GrassRoots TV to talk about it,” said Karen Green, a Basalt social studies teacher and faculty sponsor to the Diversity Club. “They’re also really trying to get other youths involved in what’s going on, and make them aware of the situation. These are kids that really give above and beyond.”

St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Aspen has also set up a relief fund to benefit refugees. Checks should be made out to Catholic Relief Services: Kosovo Relief. All of the contributions will go toward refugees’ needs.

No collections of food, medicine or clothing are being taken because the items can be purchased in Europe for less money.


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