Houska has always been proud to lend a helping hand to our beloved northern Colorado community. For several years, we’ve hosted Garage Band Events as one way to give back to those in need. This year, we are excited to open our garages on Saturday, July 14 for live music, dancing, tasty bites, a silent auction and games for the whole family – all to benefit four child-based charities in town: Coats and Boots, Project Smile, Super Hero Underwear and ChildSafe.
Look for more event details in the coming months, but in the meantime, we’d like to share a few truly heartwarming stories about the incredible impact these charities have made on the lives of children in our town. Giving back is always rewarding, but it’s a special treat when you can witness the positive difference your support makes.
Here are a few of our favorites:
There was a little boy who was identified at a Project Smile elementary school screening as needing urgent dental care. He had recently come to Fort Collins with his family from another country and spoke little English. He probably didn’t own a toothbrush since his gums were swollen and bleeding. After visiting one of our volunteer dentists, his cavities were filled, his teeth were cleaned and he had a dental hygiene plan in place.
Other members of the family all started to call our very generous Project Smile volunteer dentist, who just couldn’t say no to this family. One day, the high school brother of the original little boy called the dentist’s office and said that his gums were bleeding and he was in a great deal of pain. It turned out that this student had “trench mouth” or Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis. His gums were yellow, and pus came out of his gums when touched. In the dentist’s opinion, this teen was two weeks away from losing his teeth. After extensive treatment, his oral health improved, and no teeth were lost. If it hadn’t been for Project Smile screening the younger brother at a PSD elementary school, the teen would most likely have lost his teeth.
On another occasion, in the first year of Project Smile during the fall of 2006, there was a first grader named Maria who had come to Irish Elementary School from another country. Each day was the same story – she cried, was sent to the nurse’s office and returned with an ice pack. It was quickly discovered that Maria had spent a lot of time locked in a closet at her grandma’s home and drank juice or soda from a bottle since the tap water was not safe to drink. The repeated habits left her teeth rotting away. A Project Smile dentist volunteered their time, and over a period of months, she received treatment until her health improved. She had to repeat first grade since so much time had been spent either in pain or being treated at the dentist’s office, but after another year, she excelled academically and successfully completed elementary and middle school. She is now a very successful high school student with a great smile.
Coats and Boots (originally published in the Coloradoan):
Eleven years ago, a kind man purchased a quality winter coat for a little Poudre School District first-grader who had a hardworking mom and a dad dying of cancer. This little kiddo wore three layered sweatshirts to school daily so he would be warm enough out on the playground at recess. He LOVED playing football.
The man who purchased this first coat for his now “famous” Coats and Boots is Don Butler. He has propelled this project along since its inception.
Don Butler tells an embarrassing story about himself that occurred while fitting kids with boots. One fall day, Don was totally focused on getting as many students as possible fitted with their new boots. His head bent down for hours, he was sizing up foot after foot, grabbing boots out of boxes to place on grateful kids.
Toward the end of his shift, to the last child of the day, he asked the same question he’d asked many times before, “Well, how do you like your new boots?” The child simply replied, “Not really.”
A surprised Don looked up and saw the face of a perplexed little boy who had just been fitted with the most perfect pink pair of boots. Don suddenly realized the error of his ways and grabbed a pair of black boots, slipping them on the now delighted child.
For 11 years now, North Fort Collins Business Association’s Coats and Boots, in conjunction with Jax, has purchased quality coats and boots to distribute to children deemed to be the most impacted by poverty. The goal of Coats and Boots is to provide warm, quality winter coats and boots to Poudre School District students living in poverty.
And since the winter-wear is of high quality, it lasts through several seasons and/or multiple siblings. This year, Coats and Boots purchased 970 coats and boots for children living in poverty in 28 PSD schools.
Don deserves accolades beyond. The little first-grader who got the first coat, well, his family also got a Christmas tree and a Christmas dinner. Don gave them a great last Christmas with this little boy’s dad.
Stories like these remind us why we continue to support these organizations in any way we can. Thanks to the generous members of our community, together we can change the trajectory of local children’s lives. We look forward to seeing you in July for another spectacular time.