By Bill Tiedje
For 29 years, Ouray County Cares has provided gifts, food and clothing to individuals and families in need over the holiday season and this year is no different.
Angel Trees, with wish lists for children and families in need, are now in place in the Ridgway and Ouray schools, the Ridgway Library and the Ridgway and Ouray branches of Citizens State Bank.
Interested benefactors can pick up the gift requests at any of these locations and are asked to return unwrapped gifts to the tree locations no later than Monday, Dec. 16.
Committee Member Stephanie West said 45 - 50 families, all in Ouray County, were helped by the program during last year's holiday season.
Thanks to the generosity of the community, Ouray County Cares, sponsored by the local 501(c)(3) non-profit organization Ridgway Community Pride, has expanded its support beyond the holiday season.
Throughout the past year, Ouray County Cares has assisted school children in need through a number of programs, including: pre-school and kindergarten tuition assistance; "Kids Aid", a supplemental weekend food program; eye and sports physical exams; and, tuition assistance for high school students to take college level courses.
Students benefitting from these programs are referred to Ouray County Cares by their respective schools.
"In most cases, there isn't any other organization that can do these types of things," West noted.
West said items provided to families in need included personal hygiene items, foods provided through financial assistance from Mountain Market and gift cards for perishable foods.
"When we help people, we never use their names," said West, explaining the confidentiality of the program.
Tax-deductible monetary donations or gift cards can be mailed to R.C.P. Cares, P.O. Box 215, Ridgway, CO 81432.
Volunteers are also needed on Friday, Dec. 20 at 10:30 a.m. at the Ouray County 4-H building to assist in packing boxes with gifts and food.
Lunch will be provided to all volunteers who participate.
Once the boxes have been packed, all county law enforcement agencies, as directed by the Ouray County Sheriff's Office, will deliver all the gifts to the families in time for the holidays.