Whitney Knause knew she needed to do something for the over 1,000 families who lost their homes to the Marshall Fire in Boulder County days after Christmas.
Her solution? A do-over.
About 50 volunteers gathered on Jan. 6 at Tuscany Tavern in Evergreen to wrap donated gifts for the children who lost the Christmas they just had. Knause with community help began collecting donations as soon as she saw the damage the fire was inflicting.
“I wanted to create the magic again,” the Evergreen resident said.
In the first 13 hours since she posted her idea on social media, Knause received $1,000 in donations. Within five days, it was nearly $3,000. Beyond that, she has received over 160 toys, many gift cards and gently used toys, and people continue to send gifts via Amazon and other delivery services.
Knause called the turnout of volunteers to her wrapping event “overwhelmingly awesome” and is planning gift-distribution events. They wrapped 300 gifts, and another 100 were donated that were already wrapped.
Knause is hoping to reach her goal of 500 gifts to give to children who lost everyhing in the fire.
Evergreen Crafters is among the businesses donating to Knause’s “Christmas in January.” Tina Mihulka, who works at the shop, came on Thursday to wrap gifts with the community.
Mihulka and many others were emotional as they reflected on the damage the fire caused in Boulder County. She was happy she could donate her time to help others.
“You want them to feel like people care about them,” she said.
Paul DiDomenico helped haul wrapped gifts to cars. He and his wife both volunteered at the event.
“I feel devastated for these poor people,” DiDomenico said.
DiDomenico has spent years concerned about wildfire, having done mitigation both at his home in Arizona and now here in Evergreen where wildfire is something you can’t afford to not think about. A catastrophic fire in the Boulder suburbs was unexpected for many.
“I was glued to the TV,” DiDomenico said. “People up here are ready. They (Boulder County) didn’t have a clue.”