On behalf of the board and staff at Routt County United Way, I would like to express our deepest gratitude to our community. Without your help — both in generous donations and in time — our annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner and Holiday Exchange Market would not be possible.
And this year was extra special. This was our biggest Community Thanksgiving Dinner yet, which fed 841 local people. We also had the most donated food and volunteers compared to any other year. Again, thank you.
And then we had yet another successful and heartwarming Routt County Together Holiday Exchange Market in mid-December. United Way spearheads the extensive HEM process, which begins each year in August.
The Holiday Exchange Market committee is comprised of young professionals, church volunteers and agencies, who spend months planning and organizing the market. The market is one of our community's most powerful programs to allow struggling families have a brighter holiday at, what is for most, a very difficult time of year.
To note in special thanks: Young Professional Network volunteers stood outside of Walmart for three weekends to recruit donations of winter clothing, toys and gift cards. Holiday Exchange Market committee members built mitten boards to be housed in banks and other locations around the county, so that generous community members could donate gifts of their choosing.
And then the donations came flooding in, and we received enough donations so that every adult and child could choose between a winter coat, snow pants or boots. Most everyone received a pair of winter gloves, and everyone received a pair of warm winter socks. And parents could select several toys for each of their children.
We are thankful to Colorado Group Realty for their generous donation and the use of their moving truck. The following service clubs of Steamboat also helped: Rotary supplied gift wrap products, the Lions bought gift grads and Kiwanis bought socks.
Our churches helped tremendously with mitten boards, particularly the Methodist Church and Holy Name Catholic Church. The youth of our community also got involved, including the National Honor Society. 4-H and the Girl Scouts. The Steamboat Art Council’s group made and donated gifts for teens.
Colorado Mountain College donates its auditorium for the location for the Holiday Exchange Market, as well as its hallway, for gift wrapping stations, part of the cafeteria, for a childcare area, and the Eagles’ Nest conference room, for a volunteer break room. We are incredibly thankful to CMC for allowing us to use this perfect space for the market.
We are also thankful to Integrated Community for providing translation from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the day of the market. And we couldn't have had such a wonderful set up without Colorado Event Rentals' tables and Christy Sports' clothing racks.
Northwest Colorado Center for Independence provided transportation to those around the county who did not have reliable transportation. And Nancy Mucklow served the volunteers delicious food donated by various people in the community, and Coca Cola donated water and soft drinks. Thank you.
Our hearts are truly warmed by our giving community — the volunteers that worked the market and the Thanksgiving dinner, the generous donations and the grateful recipients (many of whom also volunteered at the market).
Thank you, Routt County, for a perfect example of what it means to Live United.
Routt County United Way executive director