Fifth annual Northern Colorado Empty Stocking Fund kicks off Thanksgiving day

The fifth annual El Pomar Foundation Northern Colorado Empty Stocking Fund kicks off Thanksgiving day and runs through Dec. 31. Providing emergency support for everything from rental assistance for persons with disabilities to utility bill payments for families with children, donors have the power to make a difference and make an impact with a donation to the Northern Colorado Empty Stocking Fund (NCESF).

Since its inception in 2007, the Northern Colorado Empty Stocking Fund has raised more than $330,000 for local health and human service agencies in Larimer and Weld counties. El Pomar Foundation’s North Regional Council and the United Ways of Larimer and Weld counties cover all administrative costs for the campaign, meaning that every dollar donated goes directly to the recipient organizations.

Additionally, El Pomar matches $1 for every $3 raised so that each donation grows by 33 percent. This unique campaign brings together the media, nonprofit organizations, and community leaders from Weld and Larimer counties to unite around a single cause: helping our neighbors in need.

Funds raised by NCESF support eight health and human service agencies dedicated to helping people in crisis and assisting others in attaining self-sufficiency. Recipient agencies include: Catholic Charities of Larimer County, Catholic Charities of Weld County, Connections for Independent Living, Crossroads Ministry of Estes Park, Food Bank for Larimer County, Greeley Transitional House, House of Neighborly Service, and Weld Food Bank.

NCESF organizations use their donations to provide emergency support to clients. This support is ever more important in light of the economic climate. According to the Colorado Division of Housing, the average rent cost in Greeley rose 5.1 percent from August 2010 to August 2011 and in Loveland by 11.7 percent. Vacancy rates remain tight, at less than 6.7 percent, throughout northern Colorado.

“Even the smallest of emergencies or unexpected expense can put a person with disabilities and their families at risk of homelessness,” said Beth Danielson, executive director of Connections for Independent Living in Greeley. “The funds Connections receives from NCESF help to stabilize families so that they can continue to work toward their goals of independence and self-sufficiency.”

According to statistics released in early November by the Colorado Center for Law and Poverty, a family of three in Larimer County needs to make $51,435 each year just to sustain itself. The cost of living in northern Colorado has changed the face of poverty.

“Without the additional funds from the NCESF, more people would be in danger of not only having their heat shut off during the winter or not being able to buy medicine, but of becoming homeless because of the mental and financial stress that prioritizing bill paying can bring. People have actually broken down crying in happiness when learning help was available,” said Glenn Good, director of Catholic Charities of Larimer County.

El Pomar North Regional Council member and CSU Assistant Vice President of Community and Economic Development Kathay Rennels emphasizes the high impact of a gift to NCESF because of the $1 for every $3 match.

“A gift to Northern Colorado Empty Stocking Fund goes further, honors those doing great work, and helps more people during a time of year that just naturally has a spirit of giving. The match provides an additional gift that a donation to one organization alone would not have,” said Rennels.

Other North Regional Council members include: Ginny Kinnick, Professor Emeritus of Nursing, University of Northern Colorado; Gordan Thibedeau, President and CEO of United Way of Larimer County; and Bob Tointon, President of Phelps-Tointon, Inc.

To donate, please go to the NCESF website at or mail contributions to P.O. Box 588, Fort Collins, CO 80522 or P.O. Box 534, Greeley, CO 80632. Please visit us on Facebook; search Northern Colorado Empty Stocking Fund.

El Pomar Foundation, based in Colorado Springs, is one of the largest and oldest private foundations in the Rocky Mountain West. El Pomar contributes approximately $20 million annually through grants and Community Stewardship Programs to support Colorado nonprofit organizations involved in health, human services, education, arts and humanities, and civic and community initiatives. Spencer and Julie Penrose founded El Pomar in 1937.

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