‘Tis the Season For Giving in Telluride
by Samantha Wright
Dec 01, 2012 | 1679 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ANGEL Baskets board member Barb Gross helped sort books prior to last year’s distribution. This holiday season, Angel Baskets will be operating out of a donated store front space at 129 W. Colorado formerly occupied by the Obama campaign’s local headquarters, brightening the holidays for over 200 financially strapped families from Telluride to the Utah border. (Courtesy photo)
ANGEL Baskets board member Barb Gross helped sort books prior to last year’s distribution. This holiday season, Angel Baskets will be operating out of a donated store front space at 129 W. Colorado formerly occupied by the Obama campaign’s local headquarters, brightening the holidays for over 200 financially strapped families from Telluride to the Utah border. (Courtesy photo)
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TELLURIDE – They may have started out as baskets, but these days, the beneficiaries of Telluride’s Angel Baskets program actually receive large overstuffed boxes filled to the brim with holiday goodies and necessities.



Likewise, the program itself has expanded in size and scope over the years, from a modest holiday program founded in 1981 to provide food and gifts for eight local families to a robust, multifaceted year-round mobilization effort serving over 200 families in San Miguel County, the west end of Montrose County and the Dove Creek area of Dolores County.  



Beginning in 2008, when the economy nose-dived and the numbers of needy families in the region multiplied exponentially, Angel Baskets expanded its holiday program to embrace this broader geographic area, and also began stocking four food banks in the region. A School Supply Program, Elder Apothecary Program, and Elder Food Gift Certificate Program round out the ambitious parameters of the program today.



But Angel Baskets’ flagship mission continues to be its annual effort to assemble and distribute Christmas presents to families who apply and qualify through Social Services and other community organizations such as WIC (Women, Infants and Children).



Each family member may request a needed gift – usually warm clothing, a toy or a household item. Some of last year’s requested items included a space heater, warm socks for an entire family, and hospital gowns for a bedridden individual.



“We go out of our way to make sure they get what they ask for,” Angel Baskets board member Nancy Talmey said.



These special requests are purchased by Angel Baskets volunteers using donated money, or are distributed to community members who take responsibility for buying gifts and returning them to Angel Baskets headquarters for distribution.



Talmey is excited about Angel Basket’s “terrific location” this year on Colorado Avenue in the old Obama headquarters at 129 W. Colorado. Community residents are encouraged to stop by starting on Dec. 3 and pick up an angel gift request from a needy family in the area.





Gifts can be brought in unwrapped or wrapped. The deadline for bringing items back is Dec. 17. Angel Baskets volunteers will then assemble boxes with the requested items as well as food, toys, filler gifts, and gift certificates to each family’s closest grocery store. Each Angel Basket also includes a special “family gift” for the household. Last year, it was new towels and blankets. This year, “It’s a surprise.”

 

“We anticipate 600-700 people will qualify for Angel Baskets this year,” said Talmey. The group will prepare over 200 “baskets” which will be distributed to households from Telluride to the Utah border.



It’s an ambitious mission. “We need volunteers to come in and help us,” Talmey stressed.



Angel Baskets is unique in that it provides a direct link between those in need and those who want to help them. As an all-volunteer 501 (c) 3 organization with no overhead expenses and no paid staff, which every donation made to Angel Baskets has a direct impact on the lives of the people the organization serves.  



“They are an incredible group of people, who devote endless time to help the community,” said San Miguel County Social Services Director Allan Gerstle of the Angel Baskets volunteers, some of whom he has worked with for close to three decades. “I love them all. They are remarkable. They are the angels.”



The group knows it is making a difference, because its grateful beneficiaries say so. Talmey shared a recent thank you letter.



“Dear Angel Basket Ladies:

I'm so glad I know who to thank for all the wonderful food we get. My family has benefitted so much from your kindness & generosity. Life is hard and kindnesses like yours helps us keep our chins up. It may encourage you to know that my husband & I are both disabled. We have 2 teenagers & my husband is a former Marine. We have struggled through 4 surgeries this past year & even ran out of propane once this winter. We do not smoke, drink, own a computer or other electronic gadgets & my car is 16 years old. I say this just to remind you that some of us are good people who have just fallen on hard times. God has used you to help provide for us.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I can never repay you for your kindness so I'm asking God too. Bless you all!”



WAYS TO GIVE

Stop by Angel Basket headquarters at 129 W. Colorado Avenue to pick up an angel gift request. The deadline for returning gifts is Dec. 17.



Alternatively, donate to Angel Baskets online at www.tellurideangelbaskets.org or mail a check to ANGEL BASKETS, P.O. Box 22000, PMB 574, Telluride Colorado 81435.



There are also other ways to donate to Angel Baskets’ cause. The Telluride Marshal’s Department is sponsoring “Tickets for Toys,” where anyone who has a parking ticket can pay with a toy of equal or greater value which will be donated to Angel Baskets.



Likewise, Wilkinson Library has a “Food for Fines” program whereby library patrons can donate non-perishable food items for the local food bank in lieu of paying accumulated library fines.

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