Vail Valley’s first ‘Giving Tuesday’ comes at a good time | VailDaily.com
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Vail Valley’s first ‘Giving Tuesday’ comes at a good time

People are asked to follow their passion, from donations to reaching out to friends and neighbors

People are being asked to follow their passions during the valley's first Giving Tuesday, from donations to volunteering to simply calling to check in on friends and neighbors.
Nina Riggio | Vail Daily
On the web

A lot of local organizations are helping a lot of local residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tuesday is a good time to show your appreciation.

Local nonprofit groups that have cooperated under the Eagle County Gives Day banner have this year joined in the growing #GivingTuesdayNow movement.

While Colorado Gives Day is all about raising money for well-vetted nonprofit groups, Giving Tuesday’s focus is wider.

“This is an opportunity to give back — it’s an opportunity for us to say ‘thank you’ to people in this community who do so much for each other,” Eagle County Gives Day coordinator Brooke Skjonsby said.

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Giving back, in this case, means donations — any amount to any nonprofit is welcome. But it also means giving time or other efforts.

“Whatever your definition of ‘good’ is … making a meal for a friend down the road, stocking the food pantry in Gypsum … That’s perfect, and it means something,” Skjonsby said.

Giving Tuesday was created in 2012. This is the first year the effort has come to Eagle County. Planning began earlier this year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S.

“In a way that’s a silver lining for this dark cloud,” Vail Board of Realtors Education and Marketing Manager Mel McKinney said.

The more open format of Giving Tuesday is a way to get people more involved in the community. McKinney said the Vail Board of Realtors has emailed its members about Giving Tuesday and will put other reminders on its social media channels.

Compassion and checks

“We’re hoping this encourages more individuals to (explore) ways to give back to the community.”

But, Skjonsby said, the local community has already expressed a lot of compassion for friends and neighbors.

“People have stepped up during this (pandemic),” Skjonsby said. There’s a passion and a love to meet people where they are.”

Some local nonprofit groups are keeping their messaging pretty general.

At Speak Up Reach Out, the county’s suicide-prevention group, director Erin Ivie said it’s encouraging people to find “something that lights your own heart on fire, whether it’s (volunteering) or giving money.”

Ivie said many of the county’s nonprofit groups are in some ways “upstream” of Speak Up Reach Out’s mission. Groups that can help residents with food or money for shelter may head off deeper problems down the road.

Julie Kapala, the marketing communications manager for Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley, said on May 1 that Oscar and Juanita Lopez and their four-year-old son, Oscar Jr., finished their sweat equity hours and moved into an existing Habitat home in Gypsum’s Stratton Flats neighborhood. In the spirit of spreading kindness for Giving Tuesday, families in the Stratton Flats neighborhood in Gypsum will be writing messages, using sidewalk chalk, in front of the Lopez family’s home to welcome them to the neighborhood. In total, there are 40 Habitat families that live in the Stratton Flats community.

The Molly & Dean Cotrill Foundation will also match up to $25,000 in donations made to Habitat’s Family Relief Fund — a special fund created to provide mortgage (and other housing related) assistance to Habitat Vail Valley families that have lost income due to COVID-19. The match applies to donations made on Giving Tuesday as well as donations made at a later date.  

At the Colorado Snowsports Museum in Vail, director Jen Mason said that group came relatively late to the Giving Tuesday effort.

Mason said that organizations focused on food, shelter and health should take priority.

But, she added, she’s recently seen information about other museums participating in Giving Tuesday, and decided to join in.

Like others contacted for this story, Mason said people should follow their hearts when deciding where to dedicate their time or treasure. “All nonprofit groups need your help.” she said.

Spreading information, too

For those who want to support the museum, Mason said Giving Tuesday is a chance to spread the word about a shift in the facility’s mission.

“We’re really working on our digital resources,” Mason said. There’s a new tab on the museum’s website to steer viewers to those resources.

“A lot (of the collection) was digitized anyway,” Mason said. “We’re trying to reinvent ourselves for more virtual presence.”

For those who want to reach out to others on Giving Tuesday, Mason recommended sharing stories of skiing and snowsports. “Let’s keep it going that way,” she said.

Mason is in weekly contact with some of the original members of the 10th Mountain Division, veterans of which essentially invented the modern ski industry.

Those veterans are now all in their 90s. And, Mason said, those she’s talked to are “annoyed” by the pandemic and its stay-home orders.

“They say ‘I lived through a war,’” she said.

In addition to her work with Eagle County Gives Day, Skjonsby is also the executive director of the Vail Valley Charitable Fund, which helps local residents facing overwhelming medical bills. In that role, she sees the power of the community reaching out to help others in need.

“I’m so incredibly grateful to be in this valley, surrounded by such amazing individuals,” Skjonsby said.

Much of the time, people in the community are asked to open their wallets along with their hearts.

But on Giving Tuesday, Ivie said the idea is more simple.

“We’re just asking people for kindness and grace,” she said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com.


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