EAGLE COUNTY — The Christmas season is when local charity is most obvious — but many local companies continue their charitable efforts all year.
The Christmas holidays are the time when need is most apparent in the valley — Vail Valley Salvation Army caseworker Tsu Wolin Brown said that group will hand out hundreds of food baskets and gifts to kids. To help, any number of local companies sponsor food drives, coat drives and toy drives as part of their late-November and December operations. It adds up to tons of food and material, virtually all of which is used.
But the need persists all year. Dan Smith, president of the local Salvation Army’s volunteer board of directors, said the pantry’s shelves will start looking pretty bare fairly early in January, the result of about 500 people per month visiting the pantry for food aid.
“But it seems like when we have a need, it gets met,” Smith said.
Meeting that need is no accident. Local stores from Gypsum to Vail donate baked goods and produce consistently, although volunteers are often needed to pick up the items. Other food is donated by residents, or purchased with money raised through Salvation Army bell-ringing and other efforts.
‘Clean The Pantry’
But SteamMaster Restoration and Cleaning helps, too. The company offers “clean the pantry” service to part-time residents who may have leftovers from their vacation stays. That food is then brought to the Salvation Army pantry.
“Our vans are on the road anyway,” SteamMaster general manager Raj Manickam said.
Beyond that help, SteamMaster also contributes consistently to nonprofits including the Vail Leadership Institute, Eagle Senior Life and the Vail Valley Charitable Fund. The company also holds at least one charity golf tournament every year.
Those efforts come from being “deeply rooted” in the community, Manickam said. “It’s good to give,” he said.
“Giving is directly tied to our mission,” The Bookworm of Edwards owner Nicole Magistro wrote in an e-mail. “We never say no when someone comes asking, as long as they can use the books we donate to sell in an auction, give to volunteers or raise money in some other way.”
Group 970 restaurants, the company that owns the Vail and Beaver Creek Chophouse restaurants, among several others, is one of several local companies that help employees support their favored causes.
Company communications manager Sarah Franke said that help can be in the form of paid community service days for employees and/or silent auction donations to those causes.
“It creates employee engagement in the community,” Franke said.
That engagement from many companies comes in large part from gratitude, Franke said.
“People feel so fortunate to be here and to operate here,” Franke said. “We want to support the people who let us do this.”
Well-established companies aren’t the only ones giving, of course, but they do set an example.
Elise Kelly, the human resources director at The Gallegos Corporation, said company executives are often asked by other companies for advice about the best ways to encourage both corporate and employee giving.
Like other companies, Gallegos encourages its employees to get involved in community projects, from kids’ athletics to church groups and more. And, while the company has long been involved in helping the Salvation Army, the Vail Valley Foundation and other charities all year — a tradition started by company founder, the late Gerald Gallegos — company officials meet about once a month to consider requests for help from other groups.
Communities around the country have a deep streak of generosity. And there’s plenty of need just about anywhere you go. But there seems to be a bit more in the Vail Valley.
“People genuinely want to give, to teach their children about it,” Wolin Brown said. “And the fact is we couldn’t do this without our volunteers and our business support.”
“People feel so fortunate to be here and to operate here.”
Communications manager for Group 970