Spread the holiday spirit
The holiday season is often called the most wonderful time of the year. For many of us, it is. We search to find the perfect gift for our children, spouse, family and friends. We hang decorations inside and outside of our homes, bake cookies, plan special meals and sing carols. We get so caught up in our personal spirit of the season that we forget how many families in our community may go without gifts, hot meals and/or a place to sleep. In fact, the true spirit of the season comes from sharing, giving and lending a helping hand to those in need. How can you help?
Before choosing a place to help, stay safe and check Covid requirements. Then, consider these easy ways your family can share the holiday spirit. Help an elderly neighbor with their outside decorations and errands. Shovel their walks. Pay for the coffee or meal for the person behind you. Send cards to hospital patients. Organize a food drive in your workplace. Clean out your closets and donate to your favorite charity. Adopt a child or family and provide gifts and food through various organizations. Hand out essentials to the homeless. Bake cookies, make candy, share a meal with elderly neighbors or others in need.
Next, choose from this partial list of community organizations in Larimer and Weld counties who could use your help. Donate food, clothing, toys, everyday essentials, or your time. Or adopt an animal or donate supplies or money to organizations that care for animals before finding homes for them.
Larimer County Humane Society, larimerhumane.org, looks for people to foster animals too young to adopt, need healing from injury or illness, socialization and training. Some require walking services. An easy way to contribute is through King Soopers or Amazon Smile. A percentage of your shopping goes to the humane society. Each year, the humane society holds a 5K Fire Hydrant walk in the spring or summer. Make plans to participate.
Animal Friends Alliance, savinganimalstoday.org/, an adoption-guarantee shelter and subsidized spay/neuter clinic, offers resources to keep pets in loving homes. They serve northern Colorado and beyond.
Food and meals
The Food Bank of Larimer County, foodbanklarimer.org and Weld County, weldfoodbank.org, hosts food drives. Rather than purchase items they may not need, give virtually. For every dollar you donate, they can buy $5 worth of needed food at wholesale prices. Virtual donations guarantee they get exactly what they desire. It also saves costs of distribution, sorting, and fuel.
FOCO Café, fococafe.org/volunteer/, a nonprofit restaurant, provides “healthy, delicious meals regardless of the ability to pay using mostly local, organic and sustainably grown ingredients.” They accept donations of time, materials, services and money.
The Fort Collins Rescue Mission, fortcollinssrescuemission.org, serves about 150 meals a day. Breakfast is from 6-7:30am and dinner from 4:30-6:30pm. They offer a special holiday dinner on December 22nd. Volunteer to serve at any of those times.
Holiday toy drive: The Realities For Children Santa’s Workshop is the single largest distribution of toys and winter gear to children who have been abused or neglected in northern Colorado. According to their website, “In 2020, donations valued at more than $162,110 were distributed to more than 1,204 local children in need.” The 2021 collection is underway now through December 14 with the community asked to donate NEW toys, NEW winter coats and VISA gift cards for the youth Realities For Children serves. Please look to their site for locations of drop boxes: www.realitiesforchildren.com/services/santas-workshop.
While shopping for your family, add gifts for another child and donate to one of these groups. Santa Cops of Larimer County, santacopslarimercounty.org, requests children’s toys unwrapped and valued at $20. Fort Collins Police, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, Loveland Police Department, CSU Police or Colorado State Police accept donations through December 27th. These police organizations create a good relationship between children and law enforcement.
The Marine Corps’ Tots for Toys, fort-collins-co.toysfortots.org, mission is “no child goes without a Christmas toy” to love. After a successful drive for 2020, this year is still in need of toys.
Volunteer and/or donate
Adopt a family through organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Larimer, begreatlarimer.org, and Weld counties, bgcweld.org, to apply and answer a few questions on their adoption form. You will receive a wish list that fits your preferences and information as to when and where to bring your donations.
The House of Neighborly Services, www.honservice.org/, provides resources, guidance and hope through basic needs of food, clothing, utility assistance for families, children, youth and seniors in the communities of Loveland and Berthoud. Some of their needs include everyday toiletry essentials, which include toothpaste and tooth brushes. They accept gift cards from Safeway, King Soopers and Walmart in increments of $5-$25.
Undertake manning the front desk or performing other duties at The Murphy Center for Hope, murphycenter.org/donate, or make a financial donation. They also need non-perishable food, gear, office supplies, hygiene items, and essential outerwear.
Offer to be a Salvation Army Kettle Bell Ringer, registertoring.com, in Larimer or Weld County. Volunteer as a family, group or individual. Search in Weld and Larimer counties for the Walmarts participating in the Angel Tree Program. Choose a tag and purchase a gift for a child November 1st through December 17th.
Contact the United Way in Larimer County, uwaylc.org, or Weld County, unitedway-weld.org, for more volunteer opportunities.
Set a good example for your children. Allocate a part of your usual holiday expenditures for donations and sharing of your time, talents, love and money to others. Whether you help people or animals, share the holiday spirit with your community.