The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC), met for the last meeting of the year on Thursday, Dec. 11, at which they spent the evening wrapping gifts for local Palisade families. PRAC members did some heavy footwork the last week of November and first week of December, asking for donations from many local businesses. The Town of Palisade soon saw donations flooding in the doors, demonstrating insurmountable generosity from citizens of the community.

In past years Palisade Recreation collected roughly $800-$1000 in monetary donations, along with many other donations such as books, school supplies, toys, and food. This year the response was absolutely outstanding, as PRAC was able to raise $2,173 in monetary donations, along with many other in-kind donations; making the third annual Christmas Basket project the most successful one yet.

Helping Families in Need

PRAC’s Christmas Basket project began in 2012, with an idea from former member Rick Fox, suggesting that PRAC aim to give back to the community and help make Christmas a little brighter for Palisade families. During the first year of the project PRAC adopted six families. The following year PRAC members started earlier in planning and set out to help seven families.

Early in October of 2014, Palisade Recreation contacted Taylor Elementary asking for help to start planning for the third annual project.  Sarah Brooks told the school their goal was to help eight families, and this year PRAC wanted to make the project a little more meaningful by purchasing books on the kid’s reading lists and making sure each child received a warm winter coat.  The school selected families in need, and asked the parents to provide a book idea and jacket size for each child, in addition to the age and gender.

All families were anonymous, only school office staff knew who each family was; the families were known as a number Family 1, Family 2, Family 3 and so on to PRAC members. After seeing that donations had doubled from the previous year, Palisade Recreation contacted the school one week prior to the project assembly date and asked for one more family.  PRAC used the money and went shopping for nine total families.

For the first time in the history of the project, Cody Butters (Town Trustee and PRAC Chair) and Sarah Brooks loaded three carts to the brim on their annual shopping trip.  Many people in Walmart stopped to stare at the ladies on their shopping outing; some even asked “Are you those types of crazy couponers that have to buy nine of every item to save money and stock up for the end of the world”.  Somehow there is always a bit of humor added to the day, which is essential if you are going to spend five hours in Walmart.

Each family basket was composed of coloring books, school supplies, books on the children’s  reading list, warm winter coat, hats and gloves, toy for their age/gender, single pool admissions for 2015, gift cards for groceries, food, family board games, stocking stuffers, and some fun little items for the parents.  After purchasing all the items on the list for each family, Palisade Recreation used the remaining money to purchase gift cards for the Backpack program.  These gift cards will be issued by school staff to families needing extra help with groceries.

If you missed helping with the project this year, Taylor Elementary is always seeking gently used or new coats that they can put on their coat rack.  Many students quickly outgrow their coats before the end of winter and are left with one that doesn’t fit properly.  The Taylor coat rack is open to any child in need of a warm coat, whether they need one for the remaining winter season or neglect to put one on before leaving home in the morning.

Going Above and Beyond

The Christmas Basket project is truly a rewarding experience for all of PRAC members and Town staff; it is wonderful to know nine families will have a little brighter Christmas this year.  It is important to acknowledge the many sponsors of the 2014 project, because without the incredible support from the community it would not have been possible for PRAC to accomplish their goal.

Special acknowledgement goes out to PRAC members that either went out in search of donations or made personal purchases of items on the shopping list.  Desa Loughman wins the Outstanding Fundraiser Award, as she collected the largest body of donations for this year’s project. PRAC wrapping_edited Palisade Parks and Recreation would like to take the time to thank all those that donated to the third annual Christmas Basket project.  If you would like to make a contribution in 2015, PRAC will begin accepting donations in September.  Once again, thanks to all that helped with this project through hands-on assistance, fundraising, or generous donations.  It is wonderful to see citizens in the community pull together to lend a helping hand.

Thanks to Rocky Mountain Gun Club, Desert Bloom Hydroponics, Palisade Lions Club, Susan J Havens, Diorios (ALJ Tex LLC), David Tredway Woodworking, Marian Brosig Holdings, Ashley Cholas & Arron Hansen, Palisade Brewery, Rich Sales, Linda Keltner of Massage Junkies, Colorado Log Furniture, Sandie Cooper, Colorado Alternative Health, Diane Arocha, Debeque Winery, Kathi Roy of Face Time, Susan L’Hommedieu, Charlotte Wheeler, Judy Cole, Frank Watt, Willie Milang, Jim Cox, Margie Moffat, Erin Stephens Marner, and Walmart. It wouldn’t have happened without you!

Sarah Brooks, Park and Events Coordinator at the Town of Palisade can be contacted at