From private individuals offering space in their homes, to businesses offering freebies to evacuees, to nonprofits working 24/7 to serve a community under siege, the citizens of El Paso County rallied around the victims of the Waldo Canyon Fire and the men and women fighting it Sunday.
El Pomar Foundation announced the disbursement of about $75,000 in emergency grants to a number of organizations involved in fighting the Waldo Canyon Fire and helping its victims. El Pomar Chairman and CEO Bill Hybl said the foundation's Wild Land Fire team met at 7 a.m. Sunday to approve the grants.
"The trustees asked us: respond quickly," Hybl said. "The needs are now."
The money comes from the foundation's Wild Land Fire Fund, which was started in 2002 during the Hayman fire. Last week, the foundation allocated about $129,000 from the fund to help small fire departments buy equipment, and to help the American Red Cross with helping fire victims in Northern Colorado.
If El Pomar represents the institutional side of the fire response, the Waldo Canyon Fire Assistance Page on Facebook represents the grassroots effort. Established Sunday morning, it quickly filled up with individual offers from people eager to help evacuees with housing, animal sheltering, hauling, babysitting -- even laundry services.
"I think it's absolutely amazing to see so many people coming together to help people in need," Brandy Allison said of the Facebook page, where she posted an offer for free child care. "I'm always willing to help anybody in need, and this is my way to give back."
Grocery stores provided supplies of water, Gatorade, food and other refreshments, restaurants donated food, and veterinarians were donating their time and expertise to help animals placed into shelters that were also volunteering space, staff and time.
While offering services, some of the organizations also put in a request for supplies to serve the evacuees and their animals. The Norris-Penrose Center, for example, put out a call for fans, extension cords and hay, while Care and Share asked for lip balm and eye drops in addition to its usual request for food.
UPDATED 5 p.m. Tuesday:
• 4-9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday Poor Richard’s Restaurant, 324 1/2 North Tejon St., offers complimentary pizza and fountain drinks to all evacuees and firefighters affected by the Waldo Canyon fire.
• Catholic Charities serve breakfast to Waldo Canyon fire evacuees at Cheyenne Mountain High School, 1200 W. Cheyenne Road. Summit Elementary, 490 Meadow Park Drive in Divide, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner for evacuees. Meal service will continue until evacuees return home.
The following items are needed to support this effort: monetary donations, sliced fruit (fruit trays), frozen potatoes, hash browns, tater tots, boxes of frozen waffles or pancakes, breakfast pastries, cereal, butter, margarine, syrup, oatmeal, disposable aluminum pans (9 x13 or larger), heavy duty and industrial aluminum foil, sugar, creamer, condiment packets (mayo, mustard, ketchup). Volunteers are needed to help prepare meals from 12-4 p.m. daily. Call Doug at 719-866-6286.
• Evacuees may shower at Pikes Peak Community College’s Centennial Campus, 5675 S. Academy Blvd., during the following hours: 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, and 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Saturday. Call 502-2000.
• The YMCA is now allowing access to its eight YMCA centers including the rec centers, along with city outdoor pools, free of charge with proper ID to those evacuated until they are no longer displaced.
• National Dog Mill Rescue, 5335 JD Johnson Road, Peyton, is opening their doors to evacuees. If anyone needs assistance or can provide local support, please call 719-495-7679.
• All Souls Universal Church, 730 N. Tejon St., is open for evacuees and can accommodate small pets in crates. Call 719-633-7717
• Evacuation point opened at Springs Church in the former Phil Long Expo Center, 1515 Auto Mall Loop. This is not a shelter, but open to evacuees to regroup and connect with loved ones.
• Shelter for evacuated horses is available at the MM Equestrian Center, 12393 Squirrel Creek Rd., Fountain, in Fountain. They have room for nine horses. Call 719-492-8762.
• A mobile laptop lab is now available for evacuees at the Red Cross Shelter at Cheyenne Mountain High School, 1200 W. Cheyenne Road. There are currently 12 laptops available until the shelter closes. Call 719-531-6333, ext. 1202.
• The Pikes Peak Community Foundation has established a fund to support Waldo Canyon Firefighters. The fund will provide financial resources and support needs that may arise — from cots to firefighting equipment. Donations are being accepted online at www.ppcf.org
• Downtown Partnership is collecting donations for firefighters and fire victims. All items will be distributed through Care and Share. For a list of what’s needed, see careandshare.org. Items can be donated at: Downtown Partnership office, 111 S. Tejon St., Suite 309, 719-886-0088; or 8 a.m. Friday, Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St., 719-634-5581.
• Couture Cupcakes is looking for volunteers to bake cupcakes for all 20 of our area’s fire stations Thursday. Volunteers are needed to prepare, box and deliver cupcakes. Children are encouraged to make ‘thank you’ cards for firefighters, which will also be delivered. Event will begin at 10 a.m. at 3347 Cinema Point. To volunteer, please call Joni McCoy at 719-266-7597.
• Carmichael Training Systems is welcoming area cyclists to ride indoors at their location on 600 S. 21st St. Riding sessions are free from 4-8 p.m. and Computrainer workouts start on the hour. Call 719-635-0645, ext. 1.
• Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado is offering assistance to evacuees. They are accepting material donations and offering vouchers to those affected. Items including clothing, household goods and furniture are being accepted at all attended donation sites in Colorado Springs. Those requiring vouchers must visit the following retail centers 10 a.m.-5 p.m.: 1070 Kelly Johnson Blvd.; 2007 S. Circle Dr.; and 2655 Waynoka Place. Voucher amounts will be determined by family size and how significantly one has been displaced. For those donating, please designate intended items specifically to Waldo Canyon Fire efforts. Call 867-1177.
• Springs Rescue Mission is opening their warehouse for Waldo Fire Relief. Needed items include Gatorade, blankets, food, clothing and household items. Collection hours are 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9-11:30 a.m. Saturday. Donated items will be dispersed to agencies directly engaged with those affected by the Waldo Canyon fire. Call 719-632-1822.
• Crowne Plaza Colorado Springs has rooms available for evacuees at a discounted rate of $89. Dogs and cats are welcome, but a non-refundable $50 pet fee applies. They are located at 2886 South Circle, 576-5900.
• Safeway stores are now collecting donations for fire relief. Customers have the option of rounding up their purchase price and donating the balance to the fire relief fund. Donations will be collected until further notice, dependant on fire status. All Colorado Springs Safeways are participating, including Monument and Falcon. Funds collected will go to American Red Cross and then dispersed to the Waldon Canyon Fire Relief.
• SecureCare Self-Storage is offering 30 days of free storage at all its Colorado Springs-area locations, no questions asked. Call 1-877-907-1649 for more information.
• The YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region is opening its facilities to evacuees, starting Sunday and lasting until further notice. The Y also is opening its day camps to children of evacuees, ages 5 to 12. Spokeswoman Mary Beth Burichin said camps last for a week, but evacuees can enroll a child for as many days as they need, space permitting. The Briargate Y camps are full, but the others have openings, she said. Go to http://www.ppymca.org/for Y locations, hours and contact information.
• Calvary Worship Center, 505 Castle Road, has offered its space to serve water, Gatorade and food to fire and police employees working the fire. The church also having a prayer meeting at 6 p.m. Sunday.
• The Mining Exchange is offering rooms at a discounted price of $99 for fire evacuees. The rooms are not ready to open to the public, but the hotel owner said they have all the amenities that people need. Call 323-2000.
• Family Life Services will open its facilities to any local business or nonprofit that needs a meeting space or check-in point for its employees. There is wi-fi, a full service kitchen and a flat screen TV. Call executive director Julie Abel at 322-1637 to make arrangements.
• D ‘n J Towing and Recovery, 2255 Busch Ave., is offering free storage for evacuees’ RVs, motor homes and trailers through Friday. Call 492-0147.
• Rocky Mountain Health Care Services, 310 S. 14th Street, can shelter up to 50 evacuees and their pets. They also could use blankets, sheets, pillows, cots and air mattresses. Call 641-2747.
Erin Prater and Loree Rider contributed to this report.