Realtors show their support for Operation Vacation |

Realtors show their support for Operation Vacation

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Karl Oelke appreciates Operation Vacation.

Being a retired Colonel for the United States Army Reserves and a Vietnam Veteran, Oelke has witnessed first-hand the way in which veterans have been mistreated when they returned from war in the past.

Oelke attended and spoke at the Glenwood Springs Association of Realtors luncheon at Buffalo Valley Wednesday afternoon to show his support for the program and he spoke about the contrast from some of his experiences 30 years ago.

“All over the country I think people have more respect for soldiers now. They know what they are doing and support them and it’s great to see,” Oelke said.

At the luncheon, Realtors handed over gifts they’ve collected for the Third Annual Glenwood Springs Board of Realtors Operation Vacation Holiday Toy Drive. It’s no coincidence that local Realtors are involved being that Bob Johnson, founder of Operation Vacation, is a Realtor himself with Vicki Lee Green Realtors in Glenwood Springs. But it’s a program that they are very happy to support because of the program’s mission to support the nation’s military families.

“It was just such a great idea, why wouldn’t you want to participate?” said John Wendt, Chairman of the Glenwood Springs Board of Realtors and President of Multiple Listings Services (MLS) for Glenwood and Aspen.

Local Realtors collect toys and money donations from the community and present them to Johnson who personally takes the toys to Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.

The toys are distributed to families who may need a little extra for their kids during the holidays. The money raised is also put back into the community by purchasing gifts from local downtown Glenwood businesses, according to Johnson.

Johnson didn’t have a total amount of gifts or money raised this year because more money and gifts are still to be collected. Last year Johnson said he took a full-sized Chevrolet Suburban, loaded with gifts, to Fort Carson. He expects to see a little less this year.

“I don’t think it’s like last year with the economy the way it is,” Johnson said.

But he was still very appreciative of the Realtor’s efforts.

“It’s still something and it’s going to make a lot of kids and families happy this Christmas,” Johnson said.

Johnson will travel to Fort Carson on Dec. 13 with the gifts. But he still has some other gifts to pick up before he leaves.

Attending the luncheon as guests of Johnson were nine local students he mentors through the Pre Collegiate Program. And his giving ways seem to be rubbing off.

Glenwood Springs High School junior Kira Withrow is one of the students Johnson mentors. Being a junior leader at Glenwood Springs Middle School, Withrow and the middle school students came up with a competition to see which class could collect the most gifts. The winning class gets ice cream.

“Junior Leaders do stuff around the community and they wanted to do this,” Withrow said. “I don’t know how many (toys) they’ve got, I’m going to pick them up (Thursday). Hopefully it’s a lot.”

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