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Hilltop holiday efforts assist people in need

Hilltop toys

Grand Junction police officer Claire Stender shops for toys at the Wal-Mart store on Rimrock Drive in Grand Junction. Wal-Mart donated $150 gift cards to children who are victims of domestic violence. Hilltop helps such children at Latimer House in Grand Junction. (Business Times photo by Mike Moran)

Hilltop continues to work on marketing the 24 programs it offers in Western Colorado. While it’s difficult to sum up the many services Hilltop offers in one brand name, it’s not difficult to discern the effects of reaching out to people in need during the holidays.

From the angel tree and food drive to the collection of toys for children who are victims of domestic violence, Hilltop strives to make a difference between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The angel tree and food drive offers Hilltop employees an opportunity to provide gifts and food to children and families served by Hilltop programs. In addition to the items donated, Hilltop board members and managers provide cash donations to help purchase items for the holidays.

Hilltop also looks in-house, realizing that some of its own employees might be struggling during the economic downturn. Such employees also receive the benefits of the holiday effort. They include employees who have an unemployed or under employed spouse. They might be single parents struggling to make ends meet.

Hilltop is celebrating 60 years of changing lives, creating opportunities and providing hope to thousands of people. Hilltop began in 1950 and its 24 community based programs provide services that range from prenatal care to assisted living for seniors.

Hilltop filled a much-needed gap when it opened Latimer House, which provides support to people and their children who are victims of domestic violence. Latimer House provides emergency shelter to adults suffering from spousal abuse or children who are victims of parental abuse.

Some of those children are receiving toys for Christmas courtesy of the Wal-Mart store on Rimrock Drive in Grand Junction. The store hosted a shop with a 911 emergency responder day, giving each child a $150 gift card to spend at the store.

“They just get so excited,” said Claire Stender, a Grand Junction police officer who helped a young girl shop for toys at Wal-Mart. In addition to receiving toys for Christmas, the children met police and other emergency responders one-on-one.

Young people served by Hilltop also received help in the form of $300 from anonymous donors. The children and young adults served by Hilltop’s Residential Youth Services program were to receive Christmas gifts purchased by the donations. The program offers a temporary home to young people who are ordered by court to a facility, or to youths from ages 5 to 21 who have been abused in Western Colorado.

The building housing the program was remodeled this year, reducing the size of the facility.

“A fund-raising effort was completed to raise money for the remodeling project and $65,000 was raised to help offset the costs of $250,000 to build,” Barbara Mahoney, director of development and marketing for Hilltop, stated in an e-mail to the Grand Valley Business Times. “The program receives referrals from DHS (Department of Human Services) and DYC (Division of Youth Corrections).

The primary reason for the remodel was largely prompted by budget shortfalls. DHS has had budget cuts and therefore tries to maintain children at home instead of treatment/residential. We scaled back from a 35-40 bed facility to a 22, which creates a break-even budget and better meets the current demands of the market.”

Mike Moran has worked as a news and sports reporter, and news manager for the past 30 years, in markets that include Rochester, New York; Colorado Springs; Panama City, Florida and Monroe, Louisiana. He also teaches Speechmaking at Mesa State College and assists his wife, Toni Heiden, in managing her real estate company in downtown Grand Junction. Mike is active in Kiwanis Club of Grand Junction, the Mesa State MBA Alumni Committee, Habitat for Humanity, the United Way and the Botanical Gardens of Western Colorado.
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