Just last week, the children of the Aztec Motel were facing a bleak holiday season.
Already living in a motel-turned-homeless-shelter that may close later this year if it can't find more funding, dozens of kids were also looking toward a Christmas morning with few or no presents under the motel office tree. See my story here.
But that won't be the case anymore. The community has stepped up to the plate. A woman who answered the phone at the Aztec today said the phones had been ringing all day — people want to help.
Then there are the e-mails I've received today. Here's one:
Just thought you should know that we were so moved by the story in the Indy about the families at the Aztec Motel that we are donating enough children's books so that every child there will have a gift to open at the holidays. We posted a comment in response to the article and it should also show up on Facebook. Thank you for letting us know about this need in our community!
We have made arrangements to deliver the books and also wrapping paper to the Aztec this week.
Chris Mandeville on behalf of Pikes Peak Writers
My name is Ashleigh Hullermann and my family owns a local business on Platte called Earl Scheib Auto Body, LLC. I recently read your article in the Independent about the Aztec Motel. I wanted to let you know that in the recent months, our business, staff, and families have taken an interest in helping the motel in any way we possibly can. We made a clothing donation in October and also bought pumpkins for the children in the program. As the holidays quickly approached, we wanted to do more. Earl Scheib Auto Body, LLC has been working on a toy drive and has manage to find sponsors to buy Christmas gifts for all of the children in the program . Still, we felt this wasn't enough. On December 17th, we will be donating a 1998 Dodge Caravan to the shelter to help them transport residents to and from doctor's appointments, grocery store, etc. We will also be delivering Christmas gifts to all the kids on December 24th, with a Santa. We are hoping that since you wrote a beautiful article about the program, that you would be interested in following up on Christmas donations. We believe that this program is necessary for the homeless families in our city. We believe in what Teresa and her staff are doing for the community and for those that need a helping hand. It is heartbreaking to think that the city will allow this program to be discontinued, putting many families back on the streets living in tents with small children. We hope that if the community sees our efforts to help the shelter, that more will become involved. Please help us in any way you can, it would be greatly appreciated.
Maybe the community should take a moment to pat itself on the back. Wonderful individuals, organizations and businesses routinely come to the rescue when the most vulnerable in our community are in need. That's fantastic. It makes me proud to live here, and I hope you feel the same way.
I also have more good news. In a presentation to City Council today, Valorie Jordan, Division Manager of the city's Housing Development Division, explained that the Aztec wasn't given money through one federal grant (which is administered through the city) this year. But additional grant dollars to help the needy recently came to the city, and the Aztec will have a shot at getting some of that money through a competitive bid process.
Cross your fingers. It could be a little Christmas miracle.