For those looking to give back over the holidays, Grand County has ample opportunity. Donating a little time or money can go a long way for individuals or families in need. While not comprehensive, we’ve assembled a list of charities that demonstrate the range of giving opportunities.
Started by Granby Police Chief Bill Housely about five years ago, Joyful Givers collects toy donations from the community and delivers them to county kids.
“It’s police officers getting involved with families, having those positive contacts,” Housley said. “Part of our mission as police is helping people, and this is another way of helping.”
All proceeds collected go directly to local children in need. Last year, around 675 gifts went to 220 kids.
How to donate: Joyful Givers accepts both toy and cash donations. Checks should be made out to “Joyful Givers.” Donations can be dropped off at the Granby Police Department at Zero West Jasper Ave.
Contact: For more information, call Bill Housley at 970-887-9282 or 970-531-7722.
Blue Star Connection
Connecting ill young people with musical instruments since 2005, the Blue Star Connection is making an impact locally, nationally and abroad. This year, The Blues Foundation recognized its efforts with the 2014 Keeping Blues Alive Award. The honor is given to individuals and organizations making a significant contribution to blues music.
Founder John Catt figures the Blue Star Connection has gifted around 400 kids their own personal instruments, from guitars to drum kits. They’ve reached out to ill youth and children’s hospitals in about 40 states and four countries.
“It’s pretty apparent music is therapeutic. It’s helping kids who are going through anything from cancer to depression to autism,” Catt said.
Blue Star Connection looks to directly connect kids with that musical therapy, particularly when their families’ finances have been decimated by the expense of their medical treatment.
How to donate: The charity accepts both cash contributions and instruments in good working order. Their website has an option to donate through PayPal.
Contact: For more information, visit the Blue Star Connection website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shining Stars Foundation/Adopt a Cause
Located in Tabernash, the Shining Stars Foundation provides outdoor recreational and social activities for children with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. They also provide year-round support and connection for the kids and their families, helping to ease their difficult situations.
“It’s all about that support network we create and they can rely on,” said program-event coordinator Heather Bratton. “By bringing hope and healing, their lives drastically change.”
For the holidays, Shining Stars is running a toy drive until Dec. 15, collecting gifts that benefit both kids with illnesses and their siblings. They’re also partnering with Breeze @ Ski Depot Sports stores in the Fraser Valley in their “Adopt a Cause” program for the third year. Any donations made through Breeze @ Ski Depot Sports will be matched by 50 percent, up to $100. Last year, the ski shops were able to raise $6,000 for the Shining Stars Foundation.
How to donate: For a list of gift suggestions and drop-off locations for the toy drive, visit the Shining Stars website. To make a cash contribution and have it matched, drop off checks at Breeze @ Ski Depot Sports, 78717 US Highway 40 in Winter Park.
Contact: Visit the Shining Stars website or call Breeze @ Ski Depot Sports at 970-726-8055.
Secret Santa Shop
Lots of holiday charities bring toys and gifts to children in need, but the Secret Santa Shop allows children to select gifts for their parents and pets. Run by the Grand Angels charity in Grand Lake, organizer Deb Gahan said they provided 100 kids an opportunity to give last year, and she expects to help 150 to 200 kids this year.
“We’re just trying to plant the seed that Christmas is more than getting stuff,” Gahan said. “It’s good to give as well as receive. On Christmas morning, these kids were more excited for parents to open their gifts.”
Held on Friday, Dec. 13 and Saturday, Dec. 14, Secret Santa Shop allows kids to select gifts from a roomful of donations, wrap them and make a personal card. The event will be held at the Grand Lake Community Center, and Grand Angels is offering $10 gas cards for families who need help with transportation costs.
How to donate: Grand Angels accepts cash donations or mom, dad and pet-appropriate gifts.
Contact: Call Deb Gahan at 303-335-6173 or visit the Grand Angels website.
Horizons Little Points of Light
Horizons works with families to expand opportunities for individuals with disabilities or at risk of developing disabilities, serving five northwest Colorado counties including Grand. Each December, they seek financial donations through their Little Points of Light Program which benefits both their early intervention program and family support program.
“State and federal funding doesn’t support all the services we offer,” said director Susan Mizen. “So every year we send out a letter asking communities to help pay for the costs of the programs in their county. The money we raise in Grand County stays in Grand County.”
This year, Horizons is also teaming with Brickhouse 40 in Granby to raise funds for their programs. On Monday, Dec. 2, patrons dining at the restaurant will have 15 percent of their check donated to the charity. More information about Horizons and its programs will also be available.
How to donate: Little Points of Light contributions can be made through the Horizons website or by visiting the Horizons office in Granby. Reservations for the benefit dinner can be made through Brickhouse 40.
Contact: Visit the Horizons website or drop by the Granby office at 81 W. Jasper Avenue. For the benefit dinner, call Brickhouse 40 at 970-887-3505.
This year, Grand Angels is also working to provide holiday comfort to the elderly and those with developmental disabilities. Instead of cash or gifts, the program is looking for volunteers to donate their time. During the week of Dec. 16, helpers can connect with community residents who would otherwise be alone during the holiday by visiting, delivering Christmas cards, or bringing meals and treats.
How to donate: Grand Angels is looking for both volunteers and suggestions of community members in need.
Contact: Call Deb Gahan at 303-335-6173 or visit the Grand Angels website..
Angel Tree at Cooper Creek Square
The Angel Tree is becoming a Grand County holiday tradition, giving opportunities for shoppers to select and fulfill individual Christmas wishes. Donors select an angel card from the tree which contain gift wishes for children and families in need. They then shop for the requested item and return it to a Cooper Creek shop.
How to donate: Visit the tree at Cooper Creek Square in downtown Winter Park. Return the gift request no later than Monday, Dec. 16. Cash donations are also accepted.
Contact: Call Stephanie Carey at 970-726-8891 ext. 33.
Leia Larsen can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603.