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Residents get some space to stretch at Purple Cliffs

Workplace donation drive brings new tents to homeless camp
Aquila Cota will be moving into a 12-foot by 12-foot tent at the Purple Cliffs homeless camp. Cota, who helps clean the camp, has been living in a dome tent.

Aquila Cota moved into upgraded digs Sunday, moving from a dome tent to a 12-foot by 12-foot canvas tent at the Purple Cliffs homeless camp.

Rob McLaughlin helped organize an effort at his workplace, McAlvany Financial Group, that raised money for three tents from Ellis Canvas Tents. Dave Ellis, owner of the Durango tent company, donated an additional tent.

The tents were delivered Sunday and volunteers began setting them up.

“It’s amazing what happens when word gets out. In the time we’ve been here, another three tents were donated,” McLaughlin said Sunday at the camp.

Richard Dilworth, homeless outreach coordinator with the Business Improvement District, said Cota is well-known for cleaning up camp in the morning, and he often helps sort clothing donations so campers can more easily sift through items to more quickly find what they need, a convenience many appreciate in the December chill.

Besides the four Ellis Canvas Tents, donations from McAlvany included supplies – food, water, clothing, radios, lights and other gifts for campers.

Dave Ellis, right, and Richard Dilworth, left, help volunteers set up one of four donated tents at the Purple Cliffs homeless camp Sunday.

“I stopped by here a couple of weeks ago and met some folks. I started asking what they needed,” McLaughlin said.

Jim Micikas, a volunteer with the Neighbors in Need Alliance, said the group is looking for a storage structure to place blankets, spare tents and other equipment that people can reach easily in an emergency.

“People sometimes come in at 5 a.m., and we want to be prepared for them,” he said.

Ellis, who was helping set up the tent for Cota on Sunday, said he was going to talk to McLaughlin about designing a frame tent that would work well in the camp, which has constrained flat spaces that make it difficult to erect large tents.

Cota said he enjoys his morning camp cleaning rounds.

“It gives me something to do, and if anyone needs help, I’m happy to do it,” he said. “At some point or other, everyone needs help. That’s the way I see it.”

parmijo@durangoherald.com

To help

Anyone who wants to donate items to the Purple Cliffs homeless camp can call Richard Dilworth at 759-7102 or Jim Micikas at (281) 387-9578.

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