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Here at Ark Valley Voice it’s Christmas in July — gifts received ($4,300 in donations so far) and gifts needed.

The Ark Valley Voice crew of reporters, content experts, writers, copy editors, tech support and social media gurus are celebrating you — our Ark Valley Voice readers. You are a gift to this valley; no matter if you are a resident, a second-home owner, a frequent visitor, or if you have just discovered Chaffee County through one of our stories.

Many of you are doing incredible work for the Arkansas River Valley, focusing on environmental issues of the river and the land, on forest health, addressing our growing workforce housing issue, supporting the economic vitality of this beautiful valley, or exhibiting heartfelt dedication to public health work to keep us all safe. Your leadership goes beyond our hard-working elected officials and grassroots activists, to researchers and rangers, volunteers, and can-do community groups, to small business owners from retail to manufacturing and construction.

It’s an honor to tell your stories. You make us want to do more, and do it better.

We invite you to continue to read for free, fact-based, unbiased coverage of news, not just on the local level, but for a Chaffee County perspective on state and national issues that affect life here.

We’ve all come through a difficult time, and we share your hopes for better days. Ark Valley Voice has now surpassed 27,000 regular readers (far more than the population of this valley).

During the pandemic, we won two more Colorado Press Association awards for our investigative reporting work, secured a small, competitive Rose Community Foundation Newsmatch grant, and Ark Valley Voice was just awarded a prestigious Water Fellowship from the Gates Family Foundation, to report on water issues in the West.

The critical role filled by a free press is fundamental to democracy. But frankly, we need help from our readers, and from the businesses we cover. We lost all advertising revenue for more than a year during the pandemic; it is slowly returning but has not come back to pre-pandemic levels. Economic grants came to other sectors of business, but not to journalism.

Our journalists are hardworking and dedicated –but they need to make a living. That’s the reason we announced our “Christmas in July” giving campaign, with the goal of raising $10,000 this month to go toward reporters’ wages. We’ve made a lot of progress — this morning donations stood at just under $4,300 — but we’re not there yet.

Ark Valley Voice reporters work every day to cover the news and issues and people of this valley, helping to keep people informed on the issues shaping our lives.

In return, we hope whether you are a business, a community group, a family, or an individual, if what we do has made a difference for you, we ask that you will consider supporting our work today. With the days ticking down to July 31 won’t you click the donation button below this story and consider a donation?

Thank you for your support — and for everything you do.