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If there’s one thing Tina Derr remembers about the Cerro Grande Fire, it’s the Christmas ornaments.
She was one of the 400 residents who lost her home to the fire, but someone, somewhere thought about her family’s plight, and gave them Christmas decorations.
A small gesture, but one she remembered as going a long way toward adding a little normalcy as well as dignity to the end of what was a very gut wrenching and tumultuous year for many.
“People were so kind to us, and someone did a really nice gesture by giving us some Christmas ornaments after the fire so we had something, ” she said.
“To have something like that happen in the midst of rebuilding, it just touched our hearts, just knowing that somebody cared.”
Now, a full 13 years later, Derr was thinking about this as she watched what the residents of Black Forest, Colo., were going through earlier this year, as fire raged through their town claiming 509 homes and two lives before it was over.
“One day, God put this in my head, saying, ‘hey, we need to make gloves, hats and scarves because it’s going to start getting cold up there,” she said. “It’s been two months since the fire, but for some reason, God dropped this on my head and said ‘get it done.’”
After partnering with a Colorado-based charity called “Crosses 4 Losses”, Derr and others have started to work hard to create mittens, gloves, scarves,and other articles of clothing in time for a Dec. 15 deadline. They can be knitted, crocheted or sewn.
“We would like to get them there before the holidays and before the cold weather comes,” she said. “I’m trying to keep it focused and simple; anyone can make a scarf, it’s very easy,” she said.
The plan is to give one article of clothing to one person, and perhaps more.
“It depends on what we can make in time,” Derr said.
Derr said people can donate manufactured clothing as well, but the main idea is to get through the idea that some one cared enough about them and their plight that they made something by hand.
“People can buy things and donate them, but it would be nicer if it were handmade, that way people can put their first names on it and where they’re from, just so it shows that someone really cared about them. That’s what they need at this time,” she said.
Derr said she naturally thought about returning the favor with Christmas decorations, but since she will driving to Black Forest, Colo., herself to deliver the donations, she didn’t want to transport things that could be delicate and breakable.
“Hats and gloves will be so much easier to transport,” she said, adding the soft items really travel well together on a long road trip.
Participating dropoff points in Los Alamos include Village Arts Framing on 216 DP Road and Warm Hearts Yarn and Gift Boutique, 35 Rover Boulevard, Suite D, White Rock. The owners of Warm Hearts, Katie Brousseau and Heidi Narum will also be hosting free knitting classes at their shop to help people participate and contribute the cause.
“We’re hoping that the classes will attract those that are interested, but perhaps need stronger knitting skills,” Brousseau said.
She added that this was an easy project to get involved in.
“Handmade items are special, in that a lot of time, patience and love goes into them. It’s something a lot more uniques than just going to Walmart and buying a pair of gloves or a hat,” she said.
Brousseau also said the other reason she decided to help out was that she’s from Colorado. “This is pretty close to home,” she said.
Other dropoff points include Yarn and Coffee, 1836-B, Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe and Moxie, 218 A Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos.
Anyone else who wants to participate can reach Derr at 672-9137 or 412-2074.