County United Way acts like Santa Claus all year |

County United Way acts like Santa Claus all year

Nonprofit spotlight
Kay Vasilakis
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Recycle, Overstock And Returns (ROAR) began when Leslie Robinson, then-executive director of United Way of Garfield County, discussed the organization’s fall campaign with the Glenwood Springs Target manager. The Target manager asked if United Way would be interested in picking up items destined to the trash, such as opened diaper boxes, cleaning supplies with damaged packaging, and returned electronics, and distribute them to local nonprofits. Leslie jumped at the opportunity.

United Way of Garfield County also joined Gifts in Kind, a national association that connects national chain stores with local nonprofit organizations. In addition to Target, Bed Bath and Beyond and Office Depot became partners with United Way’s ROAR program.

Occasionally United Way is happily surprised by unplanned donations. Last year, a local toymaker donated thousands of dolls, which were distributed to local children for Christmas gifts through the ROAR program.

Since a United Way director is a walking encyclopedia of services that local human service nonprofits provide and the clients they serve, it wasn’t difficult for Leslie to match donations with agencies. Mountain Valley Development has been given household and bedding items for its group homes. The Family Visitor Programs welcomes diapers and other baby items. Salvation Army and Catholic Charities host a free table of personal toiletries for those in need. Target donates two truckloads of food to LIFT-UP per week.

Through the generosity of local retail stores, United Way’s ROAR program has replaced bedding and furniture lost in home fires, helped furnish apartments for homeless people, given camping supplies to the Boy Scouts, and provided food and kitty litter to local animal shelters. It saves agencies thousands of dollars when they receive free goods and products they otherwise would have had to purchase. More than $75,000 worth of products was donated through the ROAR program in 2007.

When Micaela Folsom took over United Way last year, she twisted Leslie’s arm to stay with the ROAR program. Leslie picks up, sorts and delivers donations three times per week from Glenwood to Rifle. ROAR helps save the environment by recycling goods that may be slightly damaged but still useful, it saves money for agencies, and it helps unfortunate neighbors some way almost every day. None of the items are resold; the donations are funneled through United Way agencies to its clients.

Recently Stacey Durette from The Salvation Army became active in the ROAR project, and during the summer several students pitched in. The program has become so successful it has outgrown a donated storage unit. United Way is seeking a location between Glenwood Springs and Rifle, approximately the size of a double-garage, to store items and provide a workspace for more volunteers.

Donated storage space could be tax-deductible for an individual or business. With more space, ROAR would be able to accommodate more retail donors and more stuff to help county agencies.

If your business would like to donate usable but unwanted new or returned products, please contact the United Way office at 625-8189. Don’t throw items away. Recycle! All donations are tax-deductible.

Kay Vasilakis’ “Nonprofit Spotlight” column runs every other Wednesday in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. She is the media coordinator for the Garfield County Human Services Commission. To contact her, call 394-9118 or e-mail

United Way at a Glance

When and why was United Way begun in Garfield County? In response to the oil shale bust in 1982.

What does it do? United Way offers financial assistance directly to nonprofit agencies through a grant system.

What are some United Way agencies? Over twenty agencies, including YouthZone, Salvation Army, Family Visitor Program, Advocate Safehouse, Catholic Charities, Senior Programs, and many others.

How does someone or a business donate to United Way? United Way is the only organization which has a system of donating through payroll deductions.

Where does the money go? All funds raised locally stay in the community.

Contact: United Way at 625-8189.

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