The Crawford-based organization Sharon's Kids wrapped up a successful 2016 with a snowboarding trip on Dec. 30 to Powderhorn.
The outreach program provides year-round activities to deserving elementary and middle school kids in the North Fork area and Delta County. Activities include swimming, llama trips and lots of camping. In 2016, kids attended camps at YMCA Camp Santa Maria in Bailey, Western State Colorado University at Gunnison Computer/Adventure Camp, where they stayed in campus dorms for a week, and the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts' Camp Rocky in Divide.
Sharon's Kids also went rafting on the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon, camping and to the Glenwood Adventure Park and Caverns. They also performed volunteer work that included helping with the Crawford aid station during he West Elk Bicycle Classic in September and made Christmas gifts.
The organization is currently focused on sending children to summer camp in 2017. Elementary students are selected by their schools, based on economic hardship, to attend camp at no cost to their family. Transportation is included.
The program benefits in ways beyond their expectation, said Sharon Riegel, who heads the program. The experiences can have significant impacts on the parents as well as volunteers. "I am going to stay in Sharon's Kids until I'm in college," said one 16-year-old. "I'm going to stay in Sharon's Kids forever," said a 17-year-old.
Riegel said the kids who participate "are a blessing and now part of a big family."
Sharon's Kids, which is not tax-exempt, is funded by donations and grants and relies on volunteers and donations. Major donors in 2016 include the Peace Circle of the Hotchkiss United Methodist Church, Western State Colorado University, Maher-Onion Valley Club, Needle Rock Club and numerous individuals.
Donations can be sent to PO Box 30, Crawford, CO 81415. For more information, contact Sharon Riegel at firstname.lastname@example.org.