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  • Piles of donated items sit at Grace Baptist Church in Parker.
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When Parker resident Rob Nelson stepped outside of Cabela’s in Lone Tree on Dec. 30, he saw smoke rising from the north.

It was the growing Marshall Fire in Boulder County, which proceeded to destroy more than 1,000 homes in Superior and Louisville.

Looking at the smoke, he had what he describes as “a 9/11 moment.”

“This is something where we’ve never been,” he said. 

Nelson immediately started calling local leaders he knew in an attempt to find a way to help.

“It was like something deep in my gut that said “this is what you do. Go do something,” he said. “I think all of Parker had that on their heart.”

By that evening, Nelson had decided to organize a donation drive at the SECORCares facility on Pine Lane the following day. He called a few friends, posted about the donation drive on Facebook and the next morning, cars started lining up. And they didn’t stop. 

“That’s what I can’t get out of my mind,” he said “The line of cars.”

Folks brought hygiene products, pet food and water for the donation drive, which eventually moved to Grace Baptist church. Nelson, a graphic designer, volunteers with both SECORCares and Grace Baptist Church. 

Before long, Nelson was wondering where he was going to store and transport all of the items the Parker community had contributed. Then, folks started volunteering their trucks and trailers. 

When it snowed the next day, Nelson remained at home but that evening, he heard the Louisville mayor had announced that residents were under a boil advisory and needed to drink only bottled water. That Sunday, Nelson was back out collecting water bottles. That boil advisory has since been rescinded.

With help from the Dads of Castle Rock, Nelson got in touch with someone who was helping organize a “free store” at a local bar in Louisville. That’s where Nelson ended up taking “several trailers worth” of hygiene products, water and pet food. 

The Boulder Office of Emergency Management is asking those interested in helping to first visit the county website, which provides links for monetary donations, volunteering and material donations. That information is available at tinyurl.com/Marshall-Fire-help.

“The outpouring of support has been overwhelming and we get many questions each day about where donated items can be dropped off,” according to a tweet from the Boulder OEM. “Please keep in mind that an unexpected onrush of donated items can create challenges.”

After the weekend of donations, Nelson decided to “tap the brakes” on bringing in donations because of how inundated Boulder County is with item. On Jan. 7, Nelson connected with a representative of the American Red Cross who offered to help bring the items to a disaster relief center in Boulder, Nelson said.

“This is such a story of Parker rallying,” he said. 

Those interested in learning more about future donation drives organized by Nelson can view his Facebook page or email him at Rob@NelsonDesign.com.