While the nation watched in stunned disbelief at the disaster unfolding on the Gulf Coast last week, Roaring Fork Valley locals started planning how to help the victims of this country’s worst natural disaster. By Labor Day weekend, they were collecting money, baking cookies to sell, gathering clothes and making phone calls far and wide to make sure help got to the people who needed it.Here is a roundup of local relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina victims, and the success we’ve had so far:
You saw the firefighter boots at the Labor Day Festival. The Aspen Volunteer Fire Department spent all five days of the festival silently seeking donations, and the money just poured in. As of press time, they raised more than $28,000, with checks continuing to come in. All funds will go to the National Volunteer Fire Council. The idea came about from Aspenite John Verity and was spearheaded by firefighter Roy Holloway, and now it’s spreading. Brent Jarrell, a friend of Verity’s, has contacted the Telluride fire department, which will do the same thing at next weekend’s Telluride Blues and Brews Festival. On Sunday, Sept. 4, Olivia Oksenhorn, 6, and Isabella Betts, 5, sold brownies – made with organic, spelt flour, and locally laid eggs – to volleyball players and fans at Koch Lumber Park. The brownies were made by Olivia and her mom, Candice Oksenhorn. They raised $45, which they donated to an account at Alpine Bank for hurricane victims.
Last week, the Thrift Shop of Aspen sent $5,000 to the Red Cross, proceeds from sales of donated clothing and other goods from the store. The Thrift Shop also delivered a load of its best clothing for men, women and children to the Comitis Crisis Center in Aurora, which is coordinating the delivery of in-kind donations to evacuees arriving in Denver. It has also sent donations to the clothing drive sponsored by the Sky Hotel. Employees of the Dallas Fajitas booth at the Labor Day Festival made $400 in tips, donating it all to relief efforts. Other food and beverage workers at the festival chose to donate a portion of their tips. Woody Creek resident Deborah Hutchinson, owner of Aspen Pet Services, recently overnighted 70 pounds of animal medicine along with two boxes of mixed supplies to an animal care center at Louisiana State University. She has collected enough supplies for several more boxes of pet supplies and is coordinating with a friend, who is a pilot, to help reunite animals with their owners and fly people to locations to help with the rescue and care process.
Three Aspen Animal Shelter board members are on their way to Louisiana to round up displaced dogs and cats, which will be brought back to the Roaring Fork Valley. Some may be temporarily housed at the shelter, but homes (temporary and permanent) will be sought for the animals. As of late this past week, the Aspen Community Foundation has raised more than $36,000 with its new “Community to Community” program, which targets giving to make sure help gets directly to those in need. A group of 5- and 6-year-old local girls raised about $840 giving away cookies and lemonade in exchange for donations over Labor Day weekend on the Aspen malls. Alpine Bank’s special Red Cross fund matched those earnings, bringing the total to nearly $1,700.
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