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Giving Guide: The Importance of Giving Back



Create a Family Mission of Giving During the Holidays

A jolly man bell ringing for donations at your local grocer; serving Thanksgiving dinner at the homeless shelter; singing carols at the senior center. These iconic ways of giving back may be the first things that come to mind when you talk about giving during the holiday season.

Before you bring your Thanksgiving pants out of the closet for the big meal in a few weeks, now is the perfect time of year to create a focus on giving that the entire family can get behind. The year’s- end is a great time to make charitable donations and optimize your tax return, but there are dozens of alternate ways to contribute to organizations in need if you’re looking to give back with more than just money.

“Not everyone has a Norman Rockwell Christmas, or a perfect family dynamics or lots of money to spend. In our consumer culture we can often get lost in the true meaning of the holiday,” says Joan Raderman, founder at the Circle of Care Project. “This time of year holds the same challenges that we can face at any time of year – loss, death, illness – but somehow I believe our challenges are magnified this time of year so our human need for each other and our need for love and companionship increases.”

Identifying a family mission can direct you to organizations with meaningful projects that will make it easy to find a personal connection to, that could stretch beyond the holidays. A family focus will help orchestrate which efforts best align with your values and can create a guide for how you wish to give back throughout the year.

To inspire your mission statement, we’ve talked with nonprofit leaders throughout Boulder County and identified a variety of family mission statements and the most meaningful ways you can contribute to the community this holiday season.

Offer a Helping Hand

Volunteerism during the holidays teaches children that the time of year is not just about receiving, but also about the gifts you can give to others. Setting an example of giving at a young age teaches children that they are part of the larger community and fosters compassion and empathy.

“Volunteer opportunities on holidays fill up really fast,” says Ashley Denault, Vice President of Community Impact at Foothills United Way. Planning ahead can ensure you are able to lock in the volunteer opportunity that works best for your family. We suggest having a family sign up for volunteer days at your Halloween party or creating an alert on your phone to remind you to register for popular activities like serving dinner on Thanksgiving or Christmas.

The United Way’s annual Holiday Volunteer Guide is released each November online outlining charitable requests, volunteer opportunities and other ways to give back. The full guide is available on the Volunteer Connections website at https://volunteer. unitedwayfoothills.org/Holiday- Volunteering and families can select volunteer opportunities from a wide variety of organizations throughout Boulder County. The United Way is a collaborative organization, bringing together non-profit organizations, grant funding and volunteers together to have an overarching impact on the community.

Outside of volunteering for a specific event or organization, Service Projects To Go enable families, businesses or other community groups to collaborate over a specific project. No need to worry about gathering up all the sup- plies and trying to determine which organization is most in need of assistance. Organized by the volunteer team at the United Way, participating groups receive a fully structured project and supplies for hosting an impactful giving back event. Groups can build hygiene kits, make “no sew” fleece blankets or even assemble all of the goodies for an ‘Everything but the Turkey Dinner’. Projects are then distributed to organizations in need, including Bridgehouse or the Emergency Family Assistance Association.

FOOTHILLS UNITED WAY Holiday Volunteer Guide

Service Projects to Go: Scheduled at your convenience

Volunteer Contact: Kat Arnedo, Volunteer Connection@UnitedWayFoothills.org or 303-895-3416


Love Your Neighbor

Since the epidemic began in 1981, perceptions surrounding HIV and AIDS have changed, but the stigma and challenges of the disease continue to have an invisible impact on families. Spreading awareness of the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS is one way you can give back and make a big change in the community around you.

“Read an HIV-related article online or watch a movie that addresses HIV here or abroad, ‘back in the early days’ or set in current times,” says Sarah Annecone, Volunteer Coordinator for the Boulder County AIDS Project. “Use it as a way to talk about HIV with your family, friends and neighbors.”

This year KBCO’s Studio C 30th Anniversary CD will bene t BCAP and the Food Bank of the Rockies. Available for purchase at Whole Foods Stores beginning on Dec. 1, the CD is the perfect way to support non-profit works through a love of music. At just $15 per album, these CDs are afford- able, unique-to-Colorado gifts that you can share with family and friends.

For a more hands-on way of supporting BCAP, volunteers are needed to help gift wrap at Barnes and Noble throughout the month of December. Gift wrap volunteers raise much-needed donations that allow BCAP to provide meals for their families through- out the holiday season. Last year’s volunteers raised over $5,000.

Volunteer Contact: Sarah Annecone Sarah@bcap.org 303-444-6121 

Build Meaningful Friendships

As you gather with your loved ones – those seen daily and those seen only on holidays – remember that for seniors or individuals without family nearby, loneliness is one of the biggest challenges of the holiday season.

“There are thousands of older adults in Colorado who struggle every day with loneliness and social isolation from the very communities to which they devoted their lives,” said Jim Becker, Executive Director of Partners for Age Friendly Communities.

Feelings of loneliness experienced year-round can be exacerbated during the holidays. Circle of Care unites older adults and people with the goal of ending social isolation. On Christmas, volunteers can serve as Christmas Day Holiday Companions, bringing at-risk adults in Boulder County together for a community meal on a day many of us spend with family.

Drivers must be over the age of 21 and attend a volunteer orientation. On Christmas Day, companions will select one of two seatings and provide transportation to Niwot Tavern for the seniors.

Annual Intergenerational Holiday Christmas Day Dinner
December 25th at 12:30 pm and 2:15 pm

Volunteer Contact: Joan Raderman, of ce@circleofcareproject.org or 303-358-4300

Act with Kindness

“We don’t always recognize or know that someone or a family we know is experiencing challenging times – it could be your neighbor, colleague, child’s classmate, or fellow member of your faith organization,” says Katie Warning, Nutrition & Healthy Living Manager at Sister Carmen. “When everyone in our community has the resources and support they need to thrive, our entire community benefits and is strengthened. No matter how big or small a donation or time given, it makes a difference.”

As you prepare for the winter months, families can take stock of which items they use the most and what may be time for a donation. Cleaning out the coat closet as a family is the perfect way to contribute to other families in need. When making a used donation, remember that if you would not want to wear something, you should trash it instead of donating it.

The Sister Carmen Community Center distributes new and gently used winter coats to families who visit their food bank. Recently outgrown jackets or new items are the standard donation request. You could even consider hosting a “Warm Inside & Out Drive” and

collect coats and canned soups to donate to the Sister Carmen Community Center. Host a holiday movie night and invite guests to bring a donation of a coat, canned goods or a grocery gift card as part of their attendance!

Warm Inside & Out Drive Anytime
Volunteer Contact: Katie Warning, katie@sistercarmen.org or 303-665-4342 ext. 146

Gift with Joy

Shopping during the holiday season can be a joyous experience for some families and a stressful one for others. As you shop for gifts for your loved ones, consider select- ing items for others in need at the same time.

Donating new toys and gifts directly to the Emergency Family Assistance Association’s Gift Room helps families participating in their housing program select age-appropriate gifts without worrying about the financial burden of the season. Puzzles, dress up clothing, sporting equipment or legos are all amazing items that would be enjoyed by any number of children. Other nonprofits like Boulder County’s “I Have a Dream” Foundation is also accepting gift donations up to $40 per individual. As a Holiday Dream-Maker you’ll get links to gifts chosen by the organization’s dreamer scholars and families.

After you’ve finished shopping, volunteering at the EFAA gift room connects you directly with the families you’ve chosen to serve. Volunteers are needed for set up, tear down and assisting during the selection process.

Gift Drop Off: Monday, Tuesday
and Friday: 10:30 am – 3:30 pm Wednesday: 1:00 – 4:00 pm
Thursday: 10:30 – 5:30
Volunteer December 12 – December 21, various times

Volunteer Contact: Sue McCullough, sue@efaa.org or 303-951-7663

Holiday Dream-Maker

Shop all month and drop off gifts on Nov. 26
Volunteer Contact: email holiday- dreams@bouldercountyihavedream.org or call 303-444-3636 x33

No matter how your family chooses to give this season, your time and commitment to the community will be felt. Giving during the holidays is important, but charities often find themselves in a bind immediately following the holidays and during the summer when volunteers are more likely to travel.

The Foothills United Way has found that volunteerism typically slows down from January through March when charities have the same amount of need but are limited in resources. Create a habit of volunteerism today and built it into a year-round commitment your family can be proud of.


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