Arrowhead homeowners ‘adopt’ local families |

Arrowhead homeowners ‘adopt’ local families

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Theo Stroomer/Vail DailyElaine Pearce of Edwards, right, wraps an Adopt-a-Family present with granddaughter Alex Patsell of Glenn Allen, Va., at The Alpine Club in Arrowhead on Thursday.

EDWARDS, Colorado ” Four-year-old Brian Areola’s eyes widened as present after present was piled high on his living room floor.

On his Christmas list was a race car and candy, and thanks to the Salvation Army’s Adopt-A-Family program, he will get his wishes.

Brian and his family ” his mother, brother Marco and sister Adriana ” were “adopted” by the Arrowhead homeowners Alpine Club. Club members bought, wrapped and delivered a bounty of presents for local families who might not have too much of a Christmas otherwise.

“I would have been able to buy some things, but not all this,” said Brian’s mother, Martha Franco. “Thank you so much.”

The Adopt-a-Family program provided more than 250 families last year with gifts. Families are referred to the program through Health and Human Services, churches and other organizations.

The focus is to get presents to children whose families would be unable to afford gifts otherwise, said Shaun Weisensel of the Salvation Army, and more donors are still needed.

This is the third year the Alpine Club has adopted families, and the project has grown every year. It started out sponsoring two families, and this it is sponsoring ten.

“It’s been huge,” said Nadine Davis, activities manager at the Alpine Club. “We have a lot of full-time homeowners here who call this home, and this is a way for them to get involved in the community.”

The club set up a “giving tree,” with the specific needs of the different families written on paper ornaments. Club members picked ornaments and committed to buying the needed gifts.

The presents were mostly basic items, such as coats and shoes, and gift cards to the grocery store. But there also were a few toys for the children, too, Davis said.

The adoptions truly became an all-member affair, and not only in gift buying. Earlier this week, the Alpine Club lounge was a flurry of ribbon, tape and wrapping paper as club members wrapped the gifts. Skiers coming off the slopes and passing through the lounge were roped in to help out with the “wrapping party.”

“You see that there are families out there who need help. All of us have given presents that don’t really mean as much for that person who is hard to buy for. But these are things that are really making a difference in their lives,” Davis said.

As much as the families enjoy receiving the presents, delivering the gifts is just as great, said Alpine Club member Sandi Dunn.

“It’s great just to watch the kids. Their eyes just light up when you come in,” she said. “I didn’t realize how much of a need there was in the Vail Valley.”

Arrowhead resident Dianne Leeb said she is glad to see how many club members are participating. It’s a great experience for everyone involved, she said.

“Often there’s a language barrier,” she said of the receiving families, “but smiles are hard to misinterpret.”

Adopting needy families really emphasized the importance of “giving back,” several members said.

“I think we’re all very fortunate people, and some of us have worked very hard to get here. But many kids need a little push along the way and we’re trying to make their life a little brighter,” Leeb said.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or

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