WOODLAND PARK • A ministry that began in 1997 in the garages of Pete Tysdal and the late Greg Schilling continues to help Teller County residents heat their homes during the winter.

“Greg had somebody come and cut the dead trees down and I went up in my ATV and pulled them out,” Tysdal said. The two delivered the fire wood to people in need.

Tysdal and Schilling, who founded Help the Needy, expanded the program and eventually attracted donations of logs from the Cripple Creek & Victor Mining Co.

For years, the volunteers, members of the Knights of Columbus at Our Lady of the Woods Catholic Church, chopped and collected wood donated by Teller County landowners. “We use splitters and cut the wood up with chain saws,” Tysdal said. “And we deliver the wood.”

In what became a Saturday ritual, the group benefited from help provided by Coalition for the Upper South Platte and Colorado State Forest Service. Foxworth Galbraith and Tractor Supply offered discounts on materials.

Most of the time, landowners bring logs to the yard at Northeast Teller County Fire Protection District in Woodland Park. Otherwise, the men gather the donations from homes of the donors.

Recipients learn about the program through Community Partnership Family Resource Center and Help the Needy/Hope Lives Here, the new name for the organization. “We did eight loads Monday and Tuesday of this week,” Tysdal said. “It’s a good feeling.”

The statistics tell the story. From January to December of 2019, 48 volunteers delivered wood to 202 homes. To date this year, volunteers contributed 3,236 volunteer hours to the program, compared to 1,385 hours last year.

In 2018, the group formed its own nonprofit, Pete’s Place, a community firewood ministry of the OMG. “It stands for the ‘Old Men’s Group,’” Tysdal said.

The nonprofit organization’s wood yard/safety director is Danny Keuhlen, and the wood yard/delivery director is Barry Mellen.

To make a tax-deductible donation, mail checks to The OMG, P.O. box 5925, Woodland Park, CO 80866.

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