Donors see HOPE of needy
“Beautiful family coming out of an abusive relationship in need of a couch.”
“We have moms-to-be in need of cribs, sheets, etc.”
“Seems like pots and pans and kitchen items are a big need right now, so if you got some new ones for Christmas, we could use your old ones.”
Listings on a Facebook page for the local nonprofit organization HOPE Unlimited read like a message board.
But it’s the everyday items that people donate to one another through the agency that is helping fill a needs gap in Mesa County.
Antoinette Martinez was one of those people on the receiving end. The mother of four children ages 8 months to 7 years recently broke free from an abusive relationship. She first got help through the School District 51 Reach Program and later was referred to the Grand Junction Housing Authority Next Step program, where she received a housing voucher. Martinez found a home, but had no possessions to speak of.
“I was excited to have a house, but I didn’t have a truck,” she said. “People were bringing stuff to me. It took a lot of stress off of my shoulders.”
HOPE Unlimited posts specific community needs on its Facebook website. Donors are encouraged to personally drop off items or arrange for the receiver to pick up goods.
Just the simple meetings between community members help people put a face on the plight of those in need, said Vicki McGee, executive director of HOPE Unlimited. Over the Christmas holidays, HOPE Unlimited helped organize donations to 130 families for an adopt-a-family gift program.
Delivering food, clothing, toys and toiletries to a family was a powerful experience for some donors, McGee said.
“You get to see the difference you make in someone’s life,” she said.
In 2010, the organization was able to help more than 100 families, McGee said. Without thinking twice, McGee said yes when offered 130 used box springs and mattresses from Hampton Inn, 205 Main St. Hill and Homes Storage, 2693 1/2 U.S. Highway 50, donated space for temporary storage of the goods as people in need came forward to accept the mattresses. McGee said the number of people who sleep on a floor or on air mattresses surprised her.
“They would have just ended up going in the landfill,” she said of the mattresses. “How sad is that? These are nice mattresses from the Hampton Inn. That’s a comfy place to stay.”
Donors were generous during the Christmas holiday, McGee said, and she hopes that trend continues through the year.
“That’s what we’re trying to do, to get this to go on 12 months of the year, not just at Christmas,” she said.
Someday, Martinez said, her family will be one that gives back to another family in need. Already, she is donating the baby clothes worn by her young daughter as she outgrows them.
“I’m looking forward to that. I want to donate,” Martinez said. “It’s been so awesome that there are people out there willing to help other people. It doesn’t mean it has to be on the holidays.”