A Denver woman and dozens of helpers repeated an annual ritual of hanging out winter clothes on trees in Civic Center park on Sunday, continuing her “Take This and Keep Warm” campaign to help the homeless despite a tragedy that almost caused her to quit.
When Nicole Uriona began the campaign three years ago, she was inspired by her father, Craig Uriona, who had been homeless for 13 years.
Bruce Finley, The Denver PostNicole Uriona
The idea was to help him and others on Denver’s streets as temperatures dip and public space shrinks. She used Facebook, soliciting donated clothing and rallying volunteers — there were 80 this time — and then draping items on tree branches. A name tag-sized note attached to each piece of clothing read: “I am not lost. If you find yourself stuck out in the cold, please take me and keep warm.” The volunteers this year also prepared packs of personal care items such as soap and toothpaste.
“I knew his struggle, how it was,” said Uriona, 33, a structural designer for a Denver engineering firm. “He was in a shelter when I started it.”
An estimated 300 Denver residents struggling to get by, most of them homeless, benefited on Sunday. Down coats went fastest, followed by the hygiene kits. Knit scarves and gloves also proved popular, even if the gloves didn’t match.
It was one of a growing number of small-scale aid efforts happening in Civic Center park, where Denver police say heroin use is rampant. Two officers patrolling the park Sunday checked an elderly man slumped against a tree trunk, aiming a small flashlight at his pupils, to make sure he didn’t need emergency attention. A park ranger also patrolled.
Church groups sometimes hand out food near the art museum and library, but Uriona said her effort is not part …read more
Source:: The Denver Post