Glenwood Springs ‘Angel Tent’ radiates some warmth for those in need and on the streets

Nancy Turner gives free socks to a man at her Angel Tent located outside of Sunlight Bike and Ski.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The face was different — the story much the same.

As longtime homeless assistance advocate Nancy Turner was keeping watch over the “Angel Tent” in the Sunlight Ski and Bike shop parking lot in downtown Glenwood Springs Tuesday, a young man glanced over as he passed by on the sidewalk.

Turner summoned him over to check out the wide array of warm socks, gloves and hats — free to anyone in need, no questions asked.

“I can’t even think straight, I just get so cold,” the man remarked, as he gathered up a few items to help weather the cold winter days and nights ahead.

For years, Turner and a group of dedicated volunteers organized the annual Christmas Day Angel Dinner and clothing drive at the nearby First United Methodist Church for anyone in need who wanted to stop by.

Given the public health concerns around the coronavirus pandemic this year, she decided the meal wasn’t possible, so she scaled back with the twice weekly Angel Tent.

It’s open from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays through the holiday season, though she’s hoping to continue into January.

“When we were doing the homeless dinner, the thing that bothered me the most was when people would come in, some of them just kids, and they were freezing,” Turner said. “Many of them only had tennis shoes on. I knew we could feed them, but it hit me that not only are they hungry, they’re freezing out there.”

So, she started to carry socks in her car, and anytime she would see someone in need she would give them a pair or two of socks.

When it became apparent that the Christmas Day meal wouldn’t be possible this year, her husband, Tom Jankovsky, Garfield County commissioner and former Sunlight Resort general manager, suggested she ask about using the parking lot at Sunlight’s downtown shop to set up the free stand.

“We just wanted to be able to say to people, ‘please, just take what you need,” Turner said, adding that friends have been sending her socks from out of state and dropping them off locally.

“A lot of people do things to help out around Christmas, but the need is there long after that, especially now with COVID,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of little children coming by with their parents, and it always just makes me remember those kids with their freezing feet.”

If anyone would like to donate socks, hats, gloves or any other small wintertime clothing items, they’re welcome to do so during the designated Angel Tent times, Turner said.

She’s also working to line up an alternative location for the tent during the week between Christmas and New Year’s when Sunlight will need to maximize its use of the parking lot for ski rentals.

Many of the people experiencing homelessness who stop by are quick to offer something in return.

“I have found that working with the homeless and needy, they’re the most wonderful people in the world and so kind,” Turner said. “I had two men come up who were so excited to get some socks, and they were like, ‘Can we get you coffee, or anything?’

“When people have hard times in life they know how to give back a little easier,” she said.

“It’s so easy to give, you just have to find the time to make it work.”

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