Williams, VanGundy recycle items to help Special Olympics

The clients at Mesa Developmental Services lost no more than $25 worth of recycling materials in a burglary at their facility in early March.

But after news of the theft appeared in the March 11 edition of The Daily Sentinel, a local construction worker on a project for energy company Williams realized that some job-site materials he was working with could be recycled to cover their loss, and then some.

“After reading the story in the newspaper, I realized we could help them,” Robert Smith said.

He noticed that scraps of the aluminum insulation he was using to cover tanks of natural gas could be recycled for cash, rather than thrown in the landfill.

After more than two months of collecting the extra materials by Smith and his crew, the load was taken to VanGundy’s Ampco Inc., where it was valued at more than $1,200.

Owner Randy VanGundy was impressed by the guys’ efforts, so he donated the proceeds of some scrap metal he had on the lot for an additional $600. Thursday, officials with Williams and VanGundy presented an oversized check for $1,844.60 to Mesa Developmental Services, which will use the money to help fund the facility’s Special Olympics program.

“I just want to thank everyone for doing this for us,” Special Olympian Ella Amigo said, adding the money would be specifically used to buy new uniforms and equipment, such as bicycles.

“I hope this lets them know that there are good people in the world who care,” said Susan Alvillar, public relations coordinator for Williams.

VanGundy said he hopes the donations show the clients how proud the community is of the Special Olympics.

More than 400 clients at Mesa Developmental Services train for the athletic events. They raise money to compete by collecting recyclables at local businesses and by selling handmade goods at Grand Junction’s downtown farmers’ market in the summer.

Before the new funds were donated, the program averaged about $15 per week from the sale of the recyclables.

Since news of the initial theft spread through the community, the recycling program has grown to include many new local businesses.

“It’s been miraculous, the individual support that we’ve received,” said Melissa Atchley, supportive living services coordinator at Mesa Developmental Services.

She called all of the donations “almost overwhelming,” explaining that the clients are now putting a lot more time into the program.

“It’s just helping so many people, and we thank them so much,” she said.


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