The outpouring of financial support for victims of summer wildfires and human-caused fires across the state continues.
On Thursday, Alpine Bank presented a $250,000 check to the American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming during a ceremony at the Aspen Glen golfing community near Carbondale. The money represents a promise the Glenwood Springs-based banking company made in June — to provide matching funds to support Red Cross disaster relief — if communities throughout the state responded in kind.
Through the bank’s campaign, which ended Aug. 31, individuals, businesses and foundations have donated at least another $304,000 to the Red Cross cause, bringing the current total to $554,000.
Glen Jammaron, president and vice chairman of Alpine Bank, said he wasn’t surprised at the level of support garnered mainly from communities where the bank has a presence. The campaign pre-dates the ignition of the Lake Christine Fire near Basalt on July 3, getting underway in early June around the time that a wildfire was well underway near Durango.
“We’re spread across Western Colorado, so we had a number of areas impacted,” Jammaron said. “I think the [bank] leadership in some of those affected areas said, ‘what can we do to help the folks who are struggling right now in some of our communities.’ I think it started with the 416 fire near Durango. It was truly a community effort.”
The bank, which counts 39 locations in Colorado, chose the American Red Cross as its partner because of its efforts spanning the many wildfire spots across the state, setting up emergency and overnight shelters and supplying food, water, clothing to those in need, including those who were evacuated from their homes or lost their homes. Jammaron said the bank cannot dictate how the tax-deductible donations are spent, but he added that it’s his understanding much of it will be earmarked for past, present and future Colorado wildfire-related relief efforts.
“The general idea is that this is for communities affected in Colorado, primarily,” Jammaron said. “I don’t want to be so absolute. We helped the Red Cross when there was a hurricane in South Texas, too. This isn’t the first time we’ve been involved with one of these fundraisers.”
The more than $300,000 donated by customers and others through the campaign isn’t a shock to him. “It’s a lot of money, but we have communities that care,” Jammaron said. “We live in unbelievable communities with folks who are really concerned about their neighbors when hard times hit, and you see that time and time again.”
He added that the bank often provides assistance to communities in need, whether the help relates to disasters like wildfires or other causes. “We recognize that we have a responsibility in our communities, and we want them to be as successful as they can be. You don’t do that because it’s good for business, but if you do it, and you do it for the right reasons, it ultimately is good for business,” Jammaron said.
Eric Myers, executive director the American Red Cross Western Colorado chapter, said it was clear that the summer’s wildfires inspired the bank donation program. When disasters strike, the not-for-profit spends a lot of money on supplies, shelters and other necessary items. Donations help cover costs of ongoing and future disaster events, and also assist in refilling accounts following emergencies.
“During the Lake Christine Fire, we housed people in multiple shelters for around a week, and worked with families to identify lost property and value,” Myers said. “We fundraise year round to be able to support disasters right off the bat. But disasters sometimes get bigger, and we raise money to support those ongoing operations.”
Myers added that the Alpine Bank campaign represents one of the biggest local match programs he’s seen. “The American Red Cross wants to thank Alpine Bank for recognizing a need in all the communities they serve and also for supporting the work that we do throughout the year — but really, because of the Colorado wildfires and the unprecedented need that we saw this summer,” he said.
In addition to the $250,000 gift to the Red Cross, the bank also recently donated $10,000 to Durango-based Southwest Colorado Disaster Assistance Community Emergency Relief Fund and $10,000 to the Roaring Fork Conservancy at the nonprofit’s annual Rendezvous gala.