Vail locals deliver aid to Denver’s homeless |

Vail locals deliver aid to Denver’s homeless

Dustin Racioppi
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado ” When Diane Moudy and company roll into Denver each Christmas, it’s like a mobile high-end thrift shop ready to spread some love from Vail, Colorado.

It’s happened each year for nearly a decade: She and about a dozen friends and family load sport utility vehicles with donations from the community ” socks, hats, jackets, gloves and backpacks ” and hand them out to the homeless and needy in Denver. But a lot of the gifts aren’t what you’d expect to see on a homeless person.

“The nice homeless people in Denver are wearing Dior and Prada,” said Moudy, who works for Resort Entertainment in Vail. “They’re representing Vail with their World Cup jackets on and their Birds of Prey gloves.”

It’s that time again, when Moudy is asking Vail to represent her homeless friends in Denver by giving to “Operation Donation.”

“Everybody’s got an extra coat in their closet,” Moudy said. “Any little bit that we can do will help.”

There’s also a chance there’ll be those that can’t be helped.

Moudy said her contacts in Denver tell her the state of the economy and tremendous job loss lately are having a big impact on the city and surrounding areas.

“There’s more people out on the streets now than ever before,” Moudy said. “It’s worse than they’ve ever seen it, and it’s only going to get worse.”

Sye Curtis, who’s volunteered the last four years, said he anticipates a busy Christmas this year with more needs than ever before, which is why donations this year are especially important.

“There’s probably going to be more people who have a home but can’t afford a Christmas and are looking for something for their kids,” he said.

Moudy’s operation doesn’t accept monetary donations and isn’t anything more official than an effort sprung from an idea her daughter had a few years back. Aside from spending a couple hundred to buy socks and candy, she relies on the generosity of the people in the valley, which, up to this point, has been overwhelming, she said.

Vail resident Mark Cervantes donated for several years until he made his first trip to Denver last Christmas. The trip, like the donations, were every bit worth it, he said.

“When you take yourself out of that comfort zone and place yourself in somebody else’s reality, it’s an eye opener in a big way,” he said. “Taking a big old spoonful of it on Christmas Day ” it just blows you away.”

The reality of living on the streets and scrapping for change is something that can be easily taken for granted in this area amid million-dollar homes and fast food restaurants that don’t even offer dollar menus, and Moudy said it’s something everybody should stay aware of this holiday season.

“We’re not living in a real world here. We’re living in Disneyland for the most part,” she said. “We don’t have homeless. And if we do, they don’t stay long.”

Curtis said the Denver trip is as rewarding a day there can be, so he, like Moudy and Cervantes, urges people to clean out those closets and contribute to the effort.

“It’s not really giving up a Christmas, it’s giving a Christmas to other people,” he said.

Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or

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