Helping two communities with needs March 15 to May 15
A unique collaboration tying together Gunnison County and Las Vegas is being organized by a former Crested Butte resident. The idea is to take some used clothing to homeless and deprived children living in and around Las Vegas. Gunnison’s Six Points Evaluation and Training Center is helping with the effort since they receive a big influx of contributions after the ski season when people leave the valley.
The organizer is former Crested Butte business owner Jennifer Ward, who now lives in Vegas and helps with the charity Penny for Thoughts. She has been astounded at some of the poverty in Vegas. She knew that given the seasonal nature of Gunnison Valley, a productive bond could be formed.
“I couldn’t believe the situation in Las Vegas,” Ward said. “There are 20,000 homeless students and 170,000 kids going to bed without having dinner. There is a lot of poverty here. I knew that Six Points got a lot of stuff when the ski areas closed and students at Western State College took off. They get a lot of donated clothing at this time of year and they don’t always have the display space to sell it all or room to store it. Unfortunately, some clothing ends up in the dumpster and Six Points has to pay the disposal fees.”
Six Points executive director Sue Uerling says Jennifer is correct. Some unsold merchandise could indeed end up in the local landfill. This is a great opportunity to help prevent that and help some families in need.
“This was Jennifer’s idea,” said Uerling. “When she lived in Crested Butte she was a frequent shopper and supporter of Six Points. Now she’s in Las Vegas and she saw a need for the population there. A lot of people are in need there at the moment. We were more than happy to collaborate with her on this project.
“Our goal is of course to sell things from our thrift shop since it supports about 35 percent of our budget and provides vocational training for our clients, but if we can’t sell the clothing, we hate to see it end up in the landfill,” Uerling continued. “We’d much rather see it go to people who desperately need these items. We’re delighted to partner with Jennifer and Penny for Thoughts on this effort.”
Uerling said people headed west can call Six Points at 641-3081 and give them a couple of days advanced notice. They’ll put together a few bags of clothing that you can throw in the trunk of your car and drop off in Vegas. “We appreciate that she thought of us and this will help us do some spring cleaning and turn over some of our older merchandise. We’re just happy to be part of it.”
So the idea is to have people heading west in the next month to take a bag of clothes from here to there. Throw Some Junk in the Trunk is the name of the benefit. You can pick up a bag of clothing and deliver it to Vegas between March 15 and May 15. As a reward, those who drop off a bag will get two tickets to the Nathan Burton Comedy Magic Show.
“There is a big problem with the kids here and there is some help available in Gunnison County,” Ward noted. “This can help both places and we are hoping people will remember to Throw Some Junk in their Trunk and help someone improve their life.”
Ward grew up in the same town in Arkansas as magician Nathan Burton, the headliner at the Flamingo with his “Nathan Burton Comedy Magic” show. He too has seen the effects of the economic downturn and is excited to help Jennifer.
“Far too many middle class families have lost their homes to foreclosure. The children of these families have been suddenly uprooted from their lives, forced to leave their neighborhood friends and their schools. For many families their only recourse was to move into one room in a cheap hotel,” Burton said.
“Not only have these families faced the devastating loss of the homes and possessions, but the emotional trauma that goes along with such a crises. I’m a supporter of this program. You can help by picking up donated clothes and household items from Six Points in Gunnison and delivering these goods to Las Vegas on your next trip to our ‘Entertainment Capital of the World,’” said Burton.
He said if you take a little extra baggage west from Gunnison, he’d donate tickets to his show. “To show my appreciation for your efforts to help our homeless children, I would like to give the driver of each car a general admission ticket for himself/herself and the passengers traveling with him/her to my show. Please do what you can and tell me about your trip after my show during the ‘Meet and Greet’ I have with my audiences.”
Ward actually helped start the organization Penny for Thoughts, which is overseeing this drive. She said food is the biggest need. “Something as simple as a granola bar can be the difference for some kids eating for the day. There are kids here who actually share shoes, and whoever gets the shoes gets to go to school that day.”
In another collaborative effort, local businesses, in conjunction with the Downtown Lodging Association, are donating a trip to Crested Butte as part of a silent auction fundraiser being held in downtown Vegas on May 19. “We are trying to help put Crested Butte on the map in the minds of people out here,” explained Ward. “My friends in Crested Butte are struggling, too.”
To learn more, give Penny for Thoughts a ring at (702) 563-7771.