Annual holiday gift giving campaign launches this week in Routt County

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— The season for giving is beginning to ramp up in Routt County as residents begin shopping for those in need.

This year, the Holiday Wishes program is hoping to collect gifts for more than 400 local families that are selected by Routt County United Way. The program culminates with the Community Holiday Wishes Party from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill. At the free celebration, there will be caroling, visits with Santa, sleigh rides, tubing and snacks, and donated gifts will be wrapped.

There are several ways people can buy gifts and volunteer to help.

The Young Professionals Network, Rotary Club members and Steamboat firefighters will be collecting gifts beginning Friday at Walmart. Gifts also will be collected from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 6 and 7 at at Walmart. Volunteers will have a list of gifts that can be purchased at Walmart, and those who purchase gifts elsewhere also can drop them off at Walmart during those dates.

"The holidays are a good time to think about how not everyone is as lucky as you are," said Stephany Traylor, a YPN member who is helping organize the gift drive. "I love being a part of it."

Traylor said families need to qualify to be a part of the Holiday Wishes program, and it is not just about getting toys for kids. A lot of families ask for grocery store gift cards or clothing items they need for everyday life.

"A lot of locals don't understand how many people within Routt County are in need," Traylor said.

Those wanting to volunteer for two-hour shifts at Walmart can call 303-720-9405.

More information and a list of needed gifts can be found at www.steamboatgiving.com. Information about donating wrapping supplies and money also can be found at the website. Volunteers are needed to wrap gifts and to help put on the Dec. 15 party. The party is open to everyone in the community including those not participating in the Holiday Wishes program.

"It is super festive, really fun," Traylor said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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