By Dalton Carver
When John Billings of Billings Artworks moved to Ridgway in 1993, he was taken aback at the helpful nature of the county.
“I was up on the highway fixing my fence and before I knew it, there were five people pulled over saying, ‘You need a hand?’” he said. “I thought, ‘Wow. I like this place.’”
Billings, and those he works with, have returned the favor several times by consistently donating to the community organization Ouray County Cares.
“There are four of us that work here and I give in our name,” he said. “We give every year. It feels good to do something.”
Entering its fourth decade, OCC has carried the area’s giving personality through its holiday program that helps residents in need throughout the county.
Applicants for the holiday program usually include workers that are affected by the business slowdown during the winter, needy families and occasionally seniors.
Those in need are identified by school teachers, counselors, law enforcement, Social Services, churches and concerned citizens.
“It’s usually about 35 families a year,” said Stephanie West, 10-year OCC coordinator. “Some of those are seniors and they don’t really ask for much. They just want a food box mostly and we always give them a gift card.”