Skico ships clothing, coffee to flood-ravaged Europe nations | AspenTimes.com
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Skico ships clothing, coffee to flood-ravaged Europe nations

Jeremy Heiman

More than 1,300 surplus winter garments from the Aspen Skiing Co. are en route to flood victims in Hungary, Ukraine and Romania.

The Skico also sent a large quantity of coffee that has passed its expiration date and cases of soap, shampoo and hand lotion that are cosmetically damaged but otherwise OK. The donations were arranged by Eugene Megyesy, Hungarian government representative for the Rocky Mountain region, and Auden Schendler, the Skico’s environmental affairs director.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people were left shelterless in the three countries after the Tisza River flooded last year. The floods destroyed 1,000 homes and damaged many more in Ukraine alone, Megyesy said. The terrain is mountainous, and the climate is cold.

“As I hear stories told, it’s pretty grim,” he said.

Economic conditions in Hungary and Romania were poor before the flooding, and the Ukrainian economy has been severely depressed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. So the local flood relief effort has been very limited.

Though not as big as the batch of clothing sent to Kosovo last year, the Skico’s donation filled a 25-foot truck, Schendler said. The clothing items include 465 pairs of pants, 429 jackets, 350 fleece tops, 50 shirts and 22 hats. The jackets and pants are of waterproof, breathable fabric, and all the clothing was formerly worn by Skico operations workers.

Next week, the Hungarian Club of Colorado will load two 40-foot shipping containers with goods from the Skico and other donors. The containers will be sent by rail and ship to Budapest. A nonprofit group there will allocate the goods to several church-based volunteer groups for distribution in the three countries.

The coffee and the soap, shampoo and hand lotion will be divided between flood refugees in Europe and homeless shelters in Denver, Megyesy said. Two of those are Samaritan House and the Denver Rescue Mission.

Megyesy and the Hungarian Club of Colorado have sent six or seven shipments of goods to Europe before this, he said. Other shipments have included outdated computers for schools.

Megyesy, who escaped from Hungary as a child in 1956, said he’s never forgotten the deprivation of the Hungarian people. He said he feels it’s important to take advantage of the huge quantity of serviceable goods discarded in the United States.

“As opposed to wasting them, I think other countries should have the benefit of them,” Megyesy said. “There are hundreds of similar items out there that other people could use. It’s a shame to let them go to waste.”

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