Organizers expect holiday drive to pick up steam

Donations trickled in slowly on the first day of the annual KRAI Holiday Drive, but that's not unusual, organizers say.

Station owner Frank Hanel said he expects the event to pick up steam today as the two-day event nears an end. If history is any indication, he said, two-thirds of the total donations are collected in the final hours of the drive.

KRAI radio has sponsored an annual holiday drive for eight years. The event started as a weeklong effort to raise money, collect donations and increase awareness for local nonprofit organizations.

Now, the drive is conducted in two, 12-hour days.

"The community continues to rise up and astound us year after year," Hanel said.

Station employees broadcast live from outside the Centennial Mall, urging residents to bring canned food, new toys and money to support the Interfaith Food Bank, Christmas for Kids, Christmas for Seniors and Advocates-Crisis Support Services.

Volunteers from those organizations line the sidewalk collecting contributions so donors don't have to leave their cars.

On Wednesday morning, more than 15 volunteers, including Santa Claus, braved temperatures of 19 degrees below zero to collect donations.

There was at least one $500 donation and the Hand's-On Quilter's Guild dropped off a box of quilts for victims of domestic violence.

"The amount of time in that is immeasurable," Hanel said.

Christmas for Kids provides toys for nearly 300 Moffat County children each year. Nearly 200 applications for toys already have been submitted for this holiday season. The application deadline is Friday, and toys will be distributed Dec. 17. Applications are available at Moffat County United Way, 650 Yampa Ave.

Last year, residents gave $21,500, hundreds of toys and more than 6,000 pounds of food.

"It's incredible," Hanel said. "That's a lot of money."

Advocates-Crisis Support Services provides support for victims of violence and crime.

Money raised during the holiday drive goes a long way toward paying the organization's annual cost for sheltering victims, a struggle as hunters and pipeline workers fill up hotel rooms.

Meanwhile, the need for shelter is increasing.

Advocates-Crisis Support Services has provided shelter for 47 men, women and children in the past 11 months. The organization has worked with 420 clients this year, a number that has surpassed the 2004 total.

"And it's going to be a very busy December," Executive Director Pat Tessmer said.

In addition to cash, Advocates needs toiletries, sweat suits, diapers and formula, undergarments, gas cards and phone cards.

Interfaith Food Bank accepts all nonperishable food items.

Hanel said food donations were down Wednesday.

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