Providing warmth, inside and out: Catholic Charities’ eighth annual coat drive kicks off holiday giving season | VailDaily.com

Providing warmth, inside and out: Catholic Charities’ eighth annual coat drive kicks off holiday giving season

Megan Bonta with Catholic Charities helps a youngster into a new coat during last weekend's coat drive, kicking off the holiday giving season.
Special to the Daily

EAGLE — The child was warm and smiling when she toddled into this year’s Catholic Charities coat drive.

She was warmer when she left, wearing a new coat and a bigger smile.

In eight years, Catholic Charities has handed 3,900 coats to local kids and families in need, said Megan McGee Bonta, who handles community integration services for the organization.

This year, the organization only did kids coats, for lots of good reasons.

“Our role is to gather people together who are doing good work and listen to the needs and gaps that exist in our community, working collectively on solutions.” Susie DavisDirector of community impact for Our Community Foundation

“Kids are the ones who need them the most,” Bonta said.

For one thing, every kid in Eagle County grew in the last year. They’re outside several times a day, and as we mentioned, kids keep outgrowing coats.

Families sign in together. If they’ve come multiple years, they bring back their old coats and exchange them for bigger sizes.

This year, they collected coats for two weeks with boxes at police departments, First Banks, the Gypsum Recreation Center and Colorado Sun & Ski’s corporate Share Our Warmth program.

Catholic Charities also tries to prevent homelessness by helping families avoid eviction.

“Homelessness in this area looks a lot like couch surfing, especially right now as ski season starts. People move here with no place to live,” Bonta said. “Even if they can afford to pay rent, there’s nothing available.”

The Law Enforcement Immigrant Alliance program was at last weekend’s coat drive to make sure everyone is signed up for EC Alert. Some new grants will also help Catholic Charities expand their victim resources programs.

“If they’re a victim of a crime, they can get the help they need,” regional director Marian McDonough said.

Catholic Charities has been in the Central Rockies resort region since 1995. It was focused in Vail when it landed here. Now, it serves Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties.

Here are some other organizations doing community outreach work leading up to the holidays:

Help deliver food baskets Saturday

Vail Valley Cares needs help distributing Thanksgiving food baskets beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, said Greg Osteen, executive director.

The baskets are already put together. To help deliver, show up at Avon Elementary School and the Eagle United Methodist Church.

Vail Valley Cares provides gift cards to other organizations that provide immediate help — things such as food and emergency shelter.

Feed the children

The 4-Eagle Foundation put together food bags for kids who are out of school next week for the Thanksgiving holiday break. The bags go to kids who get one or two meals through the school food programs.

By the time the last bell rings Friday, Nov. 16, the 4-Eagle Foundation will have packed and distributed 195 food bags, the foundation’s Julie Nelson said.

Working with Our Community Foundation, the Eagle River Valley Food Bank and the Vail Pastors Network, the kids will carry home ready-to-heat and eat snacks, fruit, soups, muffins and other food, along with a notepad and pen, some Dove chocolates and a note reminding them that Jesus loves them, Nelson said.

Masonic Lodge Toy Store

The local Masonic Lodge in Eagle is collecting toys and donations for its annual Toy Store. The Masons do not sell toys; they give toys to families who need them, whose Christmases might otherwise be less merry.

Jon Asper handles the Mason’s Toy Store. For more information, call 970-977-6234.

Helping the helpers

Our Community Foundation does a bunch of everything, said Susie Davis, director of community impact.

“Our role is to gather people together who are doing good work and listen to the needs and gaps that exist in our community, working collectively on solutions,” Davis said.

The organization works with existing projects such as the food pantry with Vail Valley Salvation Army and congregate meals through local churches. It also manages and operates the Eagle River Valley Food Bank and provide scholarships to Colorado Mountain College for students pursuing early childhood certifications.

“We bring teams of people together to address each of the above issues; we are focused on moving the needle in each area,” Davis said.

Can you hear the bells ringing?

Salvation Army Vail Valley handles countless emergencies every day. People show up who need everything, and they need it now.

It’s bell-ringing season for the Salvation Army. It’s a sin to stroll past one without dropping money into it.

The Salvation Army needs bell-ringers from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. beginning the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, Nov. 23, until Christmas Eve. Locations are City Markets in Vail, Avon and Eagle; Safeway, Village Market, Walmart and Ridley’s Family Market in Gypsum.

All donations help them re-supply its food pantry, Executive Director Tsu Wolin-Brown said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.