Sharing warmth with Nepal quake victims | VailDaily.com

Sharing warmth with Nepal quake victims

VAIL — What started as a local effort is providing warm and waterproof coats to thousands of Nepali earthquake victims.

It's good to share a little SWAG.

The National Ski Areas Association and International Medical Relief have partnered with Cheryl Jensen's Sharing Warmth Around the Globe to send supplies to Nepal.

The latest is warm and waterproof coats, tents and sleeping bags that followed medical supplies, medicine, shelter and warm clothes. Those supplies were all successfully delivered in late May.

The earthquakes that rocked Nepal on April 25 killed an estimated 10,000 people and left tens of thousands more homeless, with the monsoon hammering them.

Ask and you'll receive

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As it has for several years, the National Ski Areas Association asked resorts to collect gently used uniform coats to be delivered to Nepal, and to collect them quickly.

"I am overwhelmed by generosity of the ski resorts and their hard work in getting the donations to IMR in a rush," Jensen said. "We had 14 resorts donate approximately 2,800 jackets. We are grateful to the resorts and IMR for their efforts in helping the people of Nepal."

International Medical Relief began partnering with contacts on the ground in Nepal immediately after the earthquake to start sending aid.

During May and June, International Medical Relief sent medical teams to Nepal to work in several remote villages, as well as refugee camps in Kathmandu for earthquake victims whose houses and communities were destroyed.

"As the rainy, cold weather begins to set in on remote villages of Nepal, these coats will bring much needed warmth and refuge to those whose personal belongings and homes were demolished during the Gorkha earthquake," said Shauna King, president of International Medical Relief.

SWAG for good

The annual SWAG gear drive started more than a decade ago in Vail when Jensen was talking with her husband, Bill, then chief operating officer for Vail Mountain, who mentioned in passing the ski company had about a hundred zillion left over sets of insulated employee coats and pants.

What on Earth, Bill wondered aloud, were they going to do with 30,000 sets of this stuff?

Cheryl got together with people she knew, who got together with people they knew, and faster than you could say "heartwarming," they had thousands of pieces of winter clothing shipped to dozens of developing countries where the brutal cold puts the problems you and I have with our cell phone batteries in its proper perspective.

Critical coats

The help is immediate. One year a refugee camp in northern Sweden was home to 700 Russian and Afghan refugees. To keep them from freezing to death, the relief organization Help International sent a shipment of sweaters. A couple weeks later, a load of 600 insulated coats and pants showed up at the camp, just ahead of frostbite and death. It stays cold up near the Arctic Circle.

Organizers of the nonprofit came up with the name SWAG, which stands for Sharing Warmth Around the Globe, instead of free stuff, the term's more common connotation.

If it sounds like work, it is.

Labors of love often are.

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

To help Nepal

The Sherpa Foundation

Several Vail Valley locals you can trust have formed The Sherpa Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit to provide aid directly to the people in Nepal who have been devastated by the earthquakes.

To donate, go to http://www.sherpafoundation.org.