Eagle Scout assembles welcome baskets for High Park survivors returning to rebuilt homes

Larimer County government is partnering with local Boy Scout Holden Whitney and several area volunteer and post-fire support agencies to provide “Welcome Home” baskets for High Park fire survivors moving into their rebuilt homes.

As his Troop 119 Eagle Scout project, the Fort Collins youth decided to gather donations from local businesses, individuals and churches, and put together 25 “Welcome Home” baskets for fire survivors who are moving back into their new homes.

“Larimer County Building Department staff will present the baskets when issuing Certificates of Occupancy for replacement homes,” said Chief Building Official Eric Fried. “And we will call families who have already received their CO’s to invite them to pick up a basket at the County Building Department.”

As of July 29, 64 (25 percent) of the 259 homes lost in the High Park Fire were in the process of being replaced, either by having a building permit applied for, issued, or a certificate of occupancy (the final step in the process) awarded. As of July 30, 13 homes have received Certificates of Occupancy.

The baskets contain a variety of items from restaurant gift cards, movie tickets, spices, cookies and other food products to books, recreational opportunities, ice cream coupons and more.

Whitney contacted Suzanne Bassinger, Larimer County fire recovery manager, last spring to ask “What can I do to help?” Members of the Long Term Recovery Group had recently discussed the idea of a “Welcome Home” basket for each rebuilt home, but a project organizer was yet to be identified. Whitney enthusiastically accepted the idea for his Eagle Scout project. United Way of Larimer County signed as the legal and fiscal sponsor, and the LTRG, Volunteers of America, Larimer County and the Mountain Outreach Team all worked together to provide guidance and support for Holden. Whitney is also working on more baskets and is hoping another Eagle Scout will continue this project next year.

Larimer County continues to provide a multitude of long-term recovery services for High Park and Woodland Heights fire survivors. The County’s website for fire information is at larimer.org/highparkfire. County Fire Recovery Manager Suzanne Bassinger can be reached at 970-498-7148 or sbassinger@larimer.org.

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