In 2015, I saw a Facebook post that someone had shared (“Warm It Forward!”) where people were randomly placing scarves on trees in their cities with a note attached that read “I am not lost! If you are stuck out in the cold, please take this and keep warm!” and whoever created the post wanted to do it out East.
“Warm It Forward!”. Digital Image. Warm It Forward!. 01/28/2015.
I was inspired by the post to start something similar here in Denver, CO. I was motivated to do this because my father had lived on the streets of Denver for about 13 years (by choice). He would go in and out of shelters, but he was an alcoholic and would have to prove he was sober to stay at most surrounding shelters, or he would have to tell his story to see if he “qualified” for help from some shelters. That could be intimidating, embarrassing, and far too much work for him at times. So he would go without. However, in 2015 he was in a program through the Denver YMCA.
I decided to share the post with my friends and family and see who would want to do this with my son and me on a day in November. I had enough people show interest, so I created a public Facebook event and have continued the same every year since. I wanted to try and help the community without question of their story. Regardless of anyone’s story, I feel you deserve to be warm in the frigid temperatures that Denver gets. A group of us, maybe a dozen friends and family, participated for the 1st year (2015). We did it again for a 2nd year in 2016 with a little more than a dozen people who participated.
Ironically, December of 2016 I had received a call from the coroner’s office who said that they found my father in an alley earlier that morning. He had passed from hypothermia. Two days prior, he had lost his place at the Y due to an altercation he had with another person there. They had to make him leave because of it and he refused any help from them and didn’t call any family or friends to tell us he had lost his place there. I feel he thought he had done this before so he could do it again.
In Honor of Craig Uriona aka C-Loc (pictured)
In 2017, I was hesitant to do the event for a 3rd year but I thought “you know what, I should do this and dedicate it in honor of my father, Craig Uriona.” So, I did. I made the same public Facebook event as I had in years past and it grew by the hundreds! We were very lucky to have such great support from the community in 2017 that we (my son and I) will continue to do this yearly in memory of my dad with hopes that these items come in handy when people may need them the most!
- Nicole Uriona, "Take This and Keep Warm" Founder in Denver