Pagosa: Our neighbors need a Helping Hand

For 19 years the organizers of Operation Helping Hand have coordinated efforts of community groups to make the holidays a bit brighter for the less fortunate members of our community. This year the same is happening.

More than 375 families from Archuleta County have requested assistance from the program this year. Many of the requests are the same as in years past — toys and clothing. One noticeable difference to organizers this year is the number of people who are listing food as a priority.

So, as organizers work to meet the needs of the community this holiday season, the question is, How will we make this work?

The answer is quite easy.

Organizers have learned over the years that if they are responsible stewards of the public’s donations, all will turn out well. This year will be no different.

Organizers are requesting the assistance of the community in filling what they believe are their most important needs at this time — providing food, gifts and used clothing and household items for recipients of the program.

Clothing

The goal this year is that each child and senior citizen who has requested it will receive two articles of clothing. Tags have been placed at both City Market locations on boards near the entryway. Organizers request that citizens of the community, in their generosity, take a tag from the board, fill it with the requested item and return it to the drop-off locations listed on the back of the tag. The boards will remain up through Monday, Dec. 15; please make your selections by that time. Gifts are due to be turned in by Dec. 16 for distribution on Dec. 19.

Toys and books

Another goal of the program is that each child will receive a minimum of one toy and a book. Tags for one toy per child have been placed on the boards at the City Market locations. In addition, toy requests are available at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center on Hot Springs Boulevard. Organizers request that community members wishing to provide a toy for a child select a tag from one of these locations and return it to one of the drop-off points by Tuesday, Dec. 16.

The Sisson Library generously provides a book for each child signed up with the program through its Giving Tree program. Donations of books for children and teens up to 18 are being accepted at the library. For more details of this component of the program, please contact the Sisson Library.

Food

Those who have signed up for assistance with Operation Helping Hand this year are definitely feeling the effects of the economic slowdown. Food is a highly requested item.

Donations of food items are being accepted at both City Market locations. Look for the large green cans with the Operation Helping Hand sign on the top to make your donation of nonperishable food items. Please make your donation by Tuesday, Dec. 16, as food boxes will be prepared the following day.

You can also help in other ways: Gift certificates to City Market are appreciated to help organizers purchase additional food for the food boxes. These may be brought to The Pagosa Springs SUN, or mailed to Operation Helping Hand at P.O. Box 1083, Pagosa Springs CO 81147.

Household items, used clothing

Also needed are donations of used clothing and household items. These items need to be in good, usable condition. Requests range from clothing, hats, gloves and coats to household linens, small appliances, televisions and furnishings. Anything you can donate would be greatly appreciated. These items may be dropped of at the Extension Building at the junction of U.S. 84 and Mill Creek Road Dec. 15 to Dec. 17 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Monetary donations

Monetary donations can be made to Operation Helping Hand via several methods. They may be deposited to account number 6240417424 at Well Fargo Bank or to account number 20014379 at Bank of the San Juans. Donations may also be mailed to Operation Helping Hand, P.O. Box 1083, Pagosa Springs CO 81147.

Monetary donations will be used to purchase necessary food, clothing and toys to make sure that all who have signed up with the program receive some type of assistance.

Knowing the wonderful community we live in, the organizers of Operation Helping Hand thank you in advance for your last minute generosity in assisting the families in our community who are struggling.