Community offers Eagle Rock’s Free Store the Coat Off its Back

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Estes Park community members have always been big supporters of Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, and an excellent example of that local love came near the end of last year. That’s when a group of community members began making regular donations toward what would become our organization’s Free Store.

Located in our on-campus Lodge, the Free Store became fully functional at the end of 2018, and today displays unused garments, school supplies, toiletries, and other day-to-day items that can be used by our students and others in the Eagle Rock community.

Instead of driving these items to thrift stores in town, community members save up a few bags of clothing and other items, then deliver them to our mountainside campus to be displayed in the Free Store. And don’t think for a moment these hundreds of items are just strewn around an upstairs open space. In order to make Free Store items appealing for students and staff, volunteers separate them in order to determine which are appropriate to display, which can be offered to thrift stores, and which are most suitable for recycling. This process includes a detailed inspection. For example, with the apparel we receive, volunteers inspect each item to assess cleanliness and even wearability and durability for our sometimes harsh-weather environment here in Estes Park.

The Free Store is arranged categorically, with racks full of options for jackets, sweaters, shirts, pants, dresses, skirts and shorts. Along with the clothing racks, there are shelves and bins that hold things like hats, gloves, scarves, and even socks. There are also shoes arranged beneath the racks and baseball caps hung on the ends of garment racks.

The Free Store has some established norms with members of the Eagle Rock community being incredibly respectful of them. In terms of staying warm in the colder months, many Eagle Rock School students were able to secure coats and jackets from the Free Store this winter.

The belief is if community support and volunteer efforts continue at their current pace, we can keep the Free Store open for years to come. With that in mind, if you or someone you know would be interested in donating, we’re interested in receiving your slightly used and well-functioning apparel, shoes, and related accessories. For folks already here in Estes park where we’re located, please give us a call at (970) 586-0600 to make arrangements for dropping your donated items off during normal business hours. If you prefer to mail items for us to offer to our community members, please use the following mailing address:

Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center
Attn.: Free Store
2750 Notaiah Road
Estes Park, Colorado 80517

About the Author: Amelia la Plante Horne is Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center’s 2018/2019 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Residential Life in Estes Park, Colo. Born and raised in Las Vegas, N.M., after graduating from Eagle Rock School in the spring of 2014, Amelia attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Ecological Praxis in Healing.

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