What a year it has been! This time of the year tends to be a time of reflection for many; remembering the year that was as we spend more time with our friends and family. Living in and being part of the Summit County community is something that my husband and I are extremely grateful for. While there have been many ups and downs this year in Summit and around the world, it has been amazing seeing our community come together during difficult times to come up with solutions for housing and labor issues and celebrate local heroes.

As the state of Colorado celebrates giving back to our communities today on Colorado Gives Day, I want to celebrate some of our local non-profit organizations! If you know someone who works for a local non-profit organization, be sure to say an extra thank you to them this holiday season. Three non-profit organizations (and programs) that hold a special place in my heart are the Family and Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC), Angel Tree program at Prison Fellowship, and Domus Pacis Family Respite. “Each December Coloradans come together with the common goal to strengthen the community by helping to power nonprofits. Community First Foundation and FirstBank partner to make this day rewarding for givers, nonprofits and the community as a whole.” (Colorado Gives Day) The more an organization receives from individual donors, the more money they will be able to receive from the Community First Foundation and FirstBank after Colorado Gives Day. Only donations made on December 7th, 2021 will count toward the giving total that makes them eligible for additional funds. There are many other organizations than the three I have mentioned and other ways to get involved and give back this holiday season, as well!

If you ask most people around Summit County if they have heard of FIRC, they will probably tell you about how the organization helped their friend pay their rent during lockdown last year or how they have been able to put food on the table because of FIRC’s weekly food bank. This organization positively impacts the lives of hundreds of Summit County families every week, it’s time for us to give back to the organization that gives so much! FIRC also provides mental health navigation, utility assistance, parenting classes and counseling, and much more. Donating to FIRC this Colorado Gives Day is putting money back into our local economy and supporting hardworking families in our community.

Prison Fellowship is a national organization that works with incarcerated men and women and their family, as well as advocating for systemic change in our country. During the holiday season, Prison Fellowship partners with churches and other organizations to connect individuals like you and I with a family where a parent is incarcerated. The individual buys Christmas gifts on behalf of the incarcerated parent to bring joy and hope to the family. One and a half million children in the United States have a parent who is incarcerated; you could help restore some of the brokenness in one of their lives this holiday season. There are many other ways to get involved with this Christian organization, but if you’d like to donate to the Angel Tree program, you can do so here!

Do you own a second home in Summit County that goes unused for some portion of the year? Domus Pacis (meaning “house of peace”) partners with local homeowners here in the Rocky Mountains to provide a mountain escape for cancer patients and their families. Domus Pacis has coordinated over 1,400 family respites since the organization was founded in 2008 allowing for transformative experiences in beautiful Colorado. If volunteering your home is not an option, please consider donating to this wonderful organization.

To check out other organizations you can give to today on Colorado Gives Day, click here! While donating is a great way to put much-needed money into local programs, there are other ways to give back this holiday season. If you have children, ask your child’s teacher how you can volunteer at the school. Many local churches provide weekly meals as well as additional meals during the holidays and are always looking for volunteers to help cook and/or serve food, food banks are listed within local events here. Many children’s hospitals accept new or very gently used toys and blankets; get some friends together to make fleece tie blankets or sort through your kids' unused toys! Do you have coats, hats, scarves, and gloves you no longer need or wear? Ask local organizations if they are in need of these important items.

rsz_2december_blog_photo.jpgMy family on Thanksgiving 2021 in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The holidays remind us of what’s most important in our lives: family, friends, and our community. Giving back to those we love and to our community creates stronger bonds and brings more joy into our lives. How will you give back today on Colorado Gives Day and during this holiday season? Wishing you and your family all the joy, health, and happiness this season and into the new year!

All the best,
Jan Leopold