Holiday Giving: Helping Those Who Help Others

the Lucero Family is ringing bells: Dan and Deb Lucero and their grandchildren Isabelle and Evan. Photo provided by Olga Duvall.

Jonson Kuhn | North Forty News

With the holidays right around the corner, this is the time of year when the idea of giving is most on everyone’s minds, and to help folks in Northern Colorado know the best ways to give back, we’ve put together some of our favorite local organizations and charities to get involved with.

First up, we have the Salvation Army Service Extension in Loveland, seeking volunteers to help ring bells this upcoming holiday season. Last year, The Salvation Army assisted 30,748 people through assistance with rent, medical respite shelter, food, clothing, hygiene supplies, and transportation.

The Salvation Army is asking community members to volunteer to bell ring at their Red Kettles at local stores. Bell ringers started stationing on November 18 at King Soopers, Safeway, Walmart, and Sam’s Club stores in Loveland, Hay’s Market in Berthoud, and Scheel’s and Hobby Lobby in Johnstown Monday through Saturday and will continue through Christmas Eve.

“Bell ringing is a fun holiday volunteer opportunity,” said Olga Duvall, Loveland Service Center Director. “People of all ages, abilities, and skills enjoy ringing bells and spreading Christmas cheer. 100% of funds raised stay in our community and allow The Salvation Army to help people all year long.”

According to Olga, this short time provides most of the funding for assistance offered to people in need throughout the year. In 2021, more than 1,100 volunteer hours brought in $123,000 that The Salvation Army reinvested in Loveland through assistance to those in need this year.

While there’s no strict length of time for shifts, Olga said that typically a two-hour shift could raise $100, which is enough to provide groceries for one family or help an elderly resident with medical equipment. You can sign up for your Bell Ringing shift at volunteer.usawest.org or call 970-699-8380. If anyone is unable to donate their time but would still like to offer assistance, Olga said people could visit the webpage at lovelandredkettle.org to donate online.

Secondly, we have a well-known non-profit known as Santa Cops. This charitable organization consists of representatives from Fort Collins Police Services, Loveland Police Department, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado State Patrol, Colorado State University Police, Timnath Police Department, and the District Attorney’s Office.

Officer Wil Biberos of Larimer County delivers gifts to a family with the non-profit Santa Cops. Photo provided by Kristie Volesky.

According to Board of Directors President Kristie Volesky, Santa Cops of Larimer County works to provide toys for children in need in Larimer County to enhance the relationship between children and law enforcement within our communities for Christmas and throughout the year. These children come from all walks of life and differing circumstances, but all face limitations in their homes.

“Santa Cops started 35 years ago in 1987 kind of as a means of making sure the police officers and law enforcement was interacting with children in our community and having a positive experience for the kiddos. Also, the other mission is to work with families that are in need of some assistance around the holidays and make sure that our kids in the entire community have a good Christmas by providing gifts to families who maybe can’t afford or don’t have the means to provide as much as they would like to for their kids,” Kristie said.

Santa Cops is strictly a volunteer organization, and donations are directed to providing gifts for children and the operational expenses of their year-round operation. Santa Cops accepts applications from families interested in applying for assistance throughout November. Starting on Saturday, December 17 at 9 am, officers will begin personally delivering gifts to the homes of those families.

“We will take donations at all of the area law enforcement agencies,” Kristie said. “People can walk in either with gifts or we take monetary donations, and we accept those year-round in person or through the website. On the website we also provide our WishList, which we try to keep updated because we have a lot of gifts we get over the year and that we also buy to make sure to kind of meet the needs of the most wanted items, so we’ll update our list with most needed items to make sure we’re getting in gifts that we’re looking for.”

Kristie said that in addition to promoting public awareness and raising funds, they also participate in community-based events throughout the year. For more information about Santa Cops, contact Board Members at (970)-632-1444 or e-mail Info@SantaCopsLarimerCounty.org

Additionally, monetary donations can be sent to Santa Cops of Larimer County, P.O. Box 270693 Fort Collins, CO 80527-0693.

Lastly, we have Fort Collins’ first nonprofit restaurant, FoCo Café, which has been helping people with healthy meals since Thanksgiving Day of 2014. While their door is open for those in need all year-round, according to Board Secretary Aaron Obendorf, the holidays are especially a busy time for lending a hand.

FoCo Cafe at 225 Maple St, Fort Collins. Photo by Jonson Kuhn.

“We’re a pay as you can model, so we have kind of a suggested price list when you come in the door of what it costs us to provide a meal, but you can pay it forward if you’re able to contribute a little bit more to help others, or if you can’t afford your meal, we offer some volunteer opportunities,” Aaron said. “Part of our motto is we offer a hand up, not a handout.”

Funded entirely by donations, FoCo Café is open for Lunch from 11 am-2 pm Monday through Saturday. With indoor dining and outdoor seating, they offer carry-out meals and delivery through NoCo Nosh. They serve a wide variety of soups, salads, and sandwiches on a pay-what-you-can basis mainly using local, organic, and sustainably grown ingredients. Vegan and GF options are also an option.

“We really want to engage with the community and really try to foster and facilitate a spectrum of people that come and eat at the café,” Aaron said. “While online donations are great, we encourage people to come to eat lunch at the café and bring their friends. Eating at the café is a great way to see what we’re all about and help support the cause.”

According to Aaron and the FoCo Cafe website, the cafe intends to build a healthy community, and they’ve built their concept on the following values: every human innately has dignity and should be treated as such; every duty, volunteer or otherwise, has value; participating in a community nourishes the soul; everyone deserves to eat nutritional food; all people need a hand-up at some point(s) in their lives.

Anyone interested in learning more about volunteering can do so by visiting fococafe.org/. Furthermore, if you’re interested in donating to FoCo Café, please visit fococafe.org/donate/. You can make a one-time donation or consider signing up as a Sustaining Member, where you can commit to an ongoing monthly donation to support the FoCo Café’s continued success and help ensure this local staple stays put for many years to come.

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