Helping Hand gives families a second chance |

Helping Hand gives families a second chance

This is all that was left of the Richardson family home after a fire Friday in Parachute. Grand Valley's Helping Hand group provided aid to the family.
Tom Young / Provided |

After seeing just how many people were in need during the holiday season, in the final days of 2016 Battlement Mesa resident Jay Powell, aka Jay “Candymaker,” decided to start a group that serves as a community drop-off for those who don’t have any other place to go for supplies.

With limited resources himself, he reached out to individuals, organizations and families throughout the valley to donate, and Grand Valley’s Helping Hand was born.

Just last month, the group helped collect supplies for the Richardson family in Parachute, whose house burnt down and with it all of the clothes and toys they ever bought for their five children.

“We went from having absolutely nothing on Friday to needing a storage shed on Sunday,” the father, Taylor Richardson, told the Post Independent in March. “Stuff has been coming in from Meeker, Moab, Grand Junction … you name it.”

Candymaker said that the group started during the holiday season, when he realized that a lot of people had nothing for their kids. He discovered that by requesting specific items from individuals and the community via Facebook, he could collect them and hand them out to people in need.

Since the start of the new year, Grand Valley’s Helping Hand has become the facilitator for families throughout the county and beyond serving to bring them the supplies that they need, primarily donated from families that no longer need the items. The group gets calls from mothers and fathers looking for anything from children’s clothes to baby books, including a recent call from a mother who just had twins and couldn’t afford three cases of diapers every two weeks.

“A lot of people have needs, and it’s growing more and more here,” he said.

In fact, a family in Grand Junction with a little girl that doesn’t have much is the group’s largest donor and never asks for anything, according to Candymaker.

Though the families Grand Valley’s Helping Hand serve have thus far primarily been in Parachute, Battlement Mesa and Rifle, the group receives supplies from Eagle all the way to Grand Junction.

“It’s a mix of rich donating and low-income families sharing supplies,” he added.

Candymaker has received so many supplies from individuals and families across the valley that he converted a room of his house for storage.

“The fire department will sometimes let us know of needs,” he added. “You don’t know who’s going to call you at any time.”

Grand Valley’s Helping Hand will serve the western Garfield County community as long as families continue to donate, though the eventual goal is to get a storage facility of their own to be able to add more and more supplies.

Those interested in donating or looking for supplies can contact Jay Candymaker via his or Grand Valley’s Helping Hand Facebook page. So far, the group has 200 members with new people posting either what they have or what they need every single day.

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