WINTER PARK, Colo. — A group of friends small donation drive for Grand Lake victims of the East Troublesome Fire has turned into something much larger, thanks to the kindness of the community.
Schelly Olson is one of many people trying to get through the loss of her Grand Lake home.
“I can't tell you how traumatic it is. I walked through the rubble of my own house. It was awful,” she said.
And seeing her friend Shannon Schliep for the first time since the fires brought out even more emotions. But it’s what Shannon and her friends have been up to since the fires that will forever define this community.
“Shannon and her family are a godsend to everyone. I did not realize that I was walking into when I saw this. I had no idea,” Olson said.
What she walked into was a mass of items donated to help fire victims.
“We have a bit of a mess here, but it’s going to get organized today. Myself and several other friends have been collecting stuff,” Schliep said.
Scattered all through Schliep's house, and extending into the garage, are hundreds of donated items.
They started on social media to help out friends and family.
“My in-laws lost their home of 35-40 years. A lot of close friends lost their homes and everything and some of them barely made it out. So we’re just doing everything we can to try to help them get back on their feet move forward,” Schliep said.
And there are additional trailers full of donated items on the way.
Many of the items will head to the elementary school where a lot of other donations from Operation Kindness are being distributed.
“It’s truly our community coming together,” Olson said.
In addition to the donations, there is a group of people raising money to help aid farmers, ranchers and livestock owners impacted by this year’s fires who were displaced along with their animals.
They are raising money through a Grand County GoFundMe and a Larimer County GoFundMe to buy fencing, hay barns, hay and more food livestock to make it through the winter. Click on the links for more information and to donate.