Coats to keep warm given out after the Colorado floods

MillikenCoatsWeld County residents – including parents with toddlers and infants – lined up Oct. 9 in Milliken to receive free winter coats distributed by Catholic Charities and Coats for Colorado in the aftermath of the Colorado floods and disaster response efforts.

Larry Smith, president and CEO of Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of Denver, helped hand out all sizes of coats to those in need. Other Catholic Charities volunteers distributed diapers, water and cleaning supplies to the crowd.

Dependable Cleaners and Shirt Laundry began the state's largest coat drive in 1982. The company annually collects slightly used coats and distributes them at multiple sites with partner 7NEWS (KMGH-TV).

Among the recipients was Christina Hildreth who said her son was born the day before the flood hit on Sept. 13. She left with her arms loaded down with coats and diapers.

"I can't thank Catholic Charities enough," Hildreth said. "We lost everything."

Channel 7 anchors Anne Trujillo, Mike Landess and weatherman Mike Nelson also helped distribute the coats to the flood survivors. A video clip of the TV station's report is below.


Do you need a coat?

IMG 0013Catholic Charities is giving out free coats to survivors of the flood.

To get a coat: Visit the corner of Frances Avenue and Broad Street in Milliken on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00p.m.

View our flyer in English and Spanish.

Wading through the waters in Evans after the Colorado floods

Rose Mary Vargas and her husband, Rosendo, had lived in the Eastwood Village Mobile Home Park in Evans, Colo., since 2005. Rose Mary, who was home alone with her Chihuahua dog on Sept. 13, 2013, said she had a few minutes to evacuate before an estimated six-foot high wall of raging flood waters from the overflowing South Platte River lifted her prefabricated home off the foundation.

The 153 homes in the park were destroyed and the area has been condemned.

The following day, Rose Mary’s grandson, Dion Osborne, 16, waded through neck-high water to retrieve her diabetes medicine and some clothes. Her son-in-law, Murigo, dug through mud and miraculously found Rose Mary’s wedding ring that had been on her bedroom dresser. The family lost almost everything but a few clothes and small items. Rose Mary received help for her family from the Catholic Charities distribution center in Greeley, Colo., on Sept. 27 and shared her story on Sept. 30.

“It was Sept. 13, that’s when the flood happened, and we were having breakfast and the men that were watching the water came and said: Did I know we were under evacuation? And they said to leave. So I took my dog and I left. A day later my grandson wasn’t happy because I didn’t have my medication for my diabetes. And he said, ‘No Grandma, we have to do something.’ So, he sneaked in there, got my medication, got me some clothes and he got whatever he wanted and he walked in that water. "

"And when he was walking he had two bags over his shoulders coming out. He is my little angel...We’re going to go on from there, that’s all I can say. Starting from the bottom, you know.”

Thank You to Our Supporters

Catholic Charities is grateful to the following businesses and organizations for their tremendous support in helping us to serve survivors of the flood.


  • King Soopers
  • Magnum Motors of Loveland
  • Porta Power Inc.
  • Dr. Brad Cranwell, Connected Chiropractic

Non-profit Organizations:

  • Catholic Charities USA
  • Catholic Charities of Broome County (NY)
  • Catholic Charities, Diocese of Camden (NJ)
  • Knights of Columbus
  • Feed the Children
  • AmeriCares
  • Soles4Souls
  • Coats for Colorado
  • International Orthodox Christian Charities, Inc.
  • Church World Service

Parishes and Churches

  • St. Mary (Greeley)
  • Our Lady of the Valley (Windsor)
  • St. John the Evangelist (Loveland)
  • St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church (Greenwood Village)
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
  • Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver

This is a partial list and is being continually updated.

Knights of Columbus step up to provide disaster relief in Colorado

Catholic Charities volunteer Dan Smith was the first to arrive at a distribution center in Greeley, Colo., on Sept. 30. From two large semis parked near St. Mary’s Catholic Church, he helped unload items to the vehicles of flood survivors.

“Most of them are kind of traumatized from the flooding and they need any help they can get and we try to give it to them, “ said Smith of Knights of Columbus Council 2160 in Greeley. “They had counselors here that work with them getting them what they need, whether that’s supplies or gift cards, financial aid” or mental health assistance later.

Smith and other Knights have been helping at the distribution center at St. Mary's since late September.

John Blaskowski (pictured above) and his wife moved to Weld County, Colo., recently from Florida to be closer to family. He helped his new community by volunteering at the Catholic Charities distribution site, helping provide supplies to survivors of the flood.

“They’re very grateful for what we’re doing and they certainly need everything,” he said. “Most of them have been completely wiped out. They have their car to get back and forth but that’s about all. But it’s really nice to be able to help somebody.”

Fellow Knight Ramon Medina also served the need.

“I volunteer because I enjoy helping other people with misfortune. I know around the world there is a whole bunch of them. I’m glad we can help here. I mean, it’s tragic what happened but I want to help people so they don’t have tragedy. All the Knights they love to help and that’s what the Knights are all about: sharing and helping out.”

Of the survivors, he said, “We’re hearing that most of them want cleaning stuff to see if they can salvage their home or their trailer. Most of them they want food and they give them vouchers and stuff and whatever we have here, like necessities for the home: like toilet paper, crackers, paper towels, blankets and soup. And lots of cleaning stuff...”


A donation for Colorado disaster relief - just for kids

ToyCarsA man looked in his basement and discovered a special donation to brighten the days of some younger residents impacted by the floods in Colorado.

“He donated 400 Matchbox cars he’s been collecting for years,” said Carolyn Rainbolt, a Catholic Charities worker from the Greeley office, who accepted the donation on Sept. 26, 2013, in Windsor. “He told us it was time to get them out of his basement. He even had tags on the boxes from the year he bought them.”

His generosity didn’t stop there as he returned later with bags of new socks and new underwear to be donated, Rainbolt said.

After the flood, housing needs are urgent among newly homeless

FloodDamageCatholic Charities workers helping flood survivors in Colorado have been told that the newly homeless are seeking shelter wherever they can find it. Among the stories:

  • Twelve people are living in a one-bedroom home with one bathroom.
  • One family said they were sleeping in a warehouse with no bathroom.
  • Other flood survivors are sleeping in their vehicles because they have nowhere else to go.

“The housing needs are going to become even more critical the further we get into the disaster,” said Inga Jelescheff of Catholic Charities USA, who was helping at the Milliken site on Sept. 27, 2013.

Single mom flooded out in Colorado: The charity "means more than anybody will ever know."

Autumn Dean of Milliken, Colo., arrived at the Catholic Charities disaster relief services center on Sept. 27, 2013, shivering in a steady drizzle of rain and desperate for help. She left with a smile on her face and a truck-bed full of water, food and cleaning materials.

"My house was completely flooded, underwater for my 25th birthday," she said. "Getting the help from the community and the people that are willing to come in and help us out means more than anybody will ever know. I'm a single mom with two kids and I work on one income. Their dads aren't around to help. The support is what matters the most."


Catholic Charities responds to dire needs in disaster aftermath

MillikenTruckCatholic Charities this week opened another flood relief distribution center in northern Colorado, in the Town of Milliken.

“We are continually evaluating where resources are needed and deploying personnel, goods and services,” said Larry Smith, CEO and president of Catholic Charities of Denver, who has been traveling to stricken areas. “Catholic Charities is serving many immediate needs for food and clothing. Temporary and long-term housing is what we have to focus on next.”

The value of aid provided to flood survivors through Catholic Charities will soon surpass $100,000.

Smith encouraged those wanting to help to consider a donation of $50, $100 or more through the Catholic Charities website, “We are providing gift cards to families and individuals to buy food and gas. They are rebuilding their lives after the flooding and they need to know we care.”

Other needs are for boots, heavy trash bags, blankets and rubber gloves.

Catholic Charities had previously set up three other parish-based distribution centers. The centers have been distributing truckloads of donated supplies that have arrived from around the country, including blankets, food, water, and toiletries.

A flyer listing current locations, in English and Spanish, is available at this link.

In Greeley, distributions will take place at St. Mary Church, 2222 23rd Ave., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

At the site in Milliken, distribution is taking place at the corner of Broad Street and Frances Avenue from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Colorado disaster relief services flyer, in English and Spanish

DamageLong-term assistance information for survivors of the recent Colorado floods is on a printable flyer, as well as listed below.

Donate here to support ongoing relief efforts.

In Boulder County
Call Catholic Charities main office at 303-742-0828,
Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

In Weld County:
Call the Guadalupe Shelter at 970-353-6433,
Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

In Larimer County
Call The Mission Shelter at 970-484-5010,
Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Click here for a tipsheet on Surviving a Traumatic Event.

Archbishop Aquila’s Plea for Prayers

Please join us in response to Archbishop Aquila’s plea for prayers for everyone affected by the flash floods. If you have any specific intentions we would be honored to offer them at our weekly Mass. Please submit your intentions here
Read the Archbishop’s remarks in the National Catholic Reporter. 
If you would like to help financially, Catholic Charities is accepting donations to help the victims of the massive floods. Click here to donate. recognizes Catholic Charities as a reputable non-profit organization working with victims of the recent Colorado floods. is a partnership between the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) and Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (COVOAD). This initiative brings together government agencies and non-profit organizations so they may better assist communities affected by disasters.
Learn more at