For many, the holidays are a joyous season. Family and friends coming together and reconnecting. Snow falling lightly in the backyard as fireplaces make warm homes warmer. Full cups and dinner tables, cold hearts grown three sizes. We look forward to the laughter and cheer, the chance to show those we love just how much we love them. But for many others, it is the hardest part of the year. The lights on the tree are not shining bright for so many. As the cold descends upon us, bringing with it the season of giving, remember that there are those fighting against the cold and that they need help. Please consider donating to these wonderful, powerful, necessary organizations.
These are dire times, there’s no denying it. With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a war on women and those able to give birth has been declared. Thankfully, Colorado is a state dedicated to upholding the rights that were stricken away on a federal level. Nevertheless, organizations such as Planned Parenthood need all the help they can get. Since 1916, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains has been dedicated to providing Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Southern Nevada with access to high-quality reproductive and sexual health care; medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education; and working to provide safe, legal access to abortion. Their action fund website lists and provides comprehensive information about the most important issues that Planned Parenthood is fighting to address. The first and foremost is abortion access. Additionally, they provide access to information regarding the bans, state attacks against abortion rights, Roe v. Wade, and why every American citizen regardless of gender needs to be informed and concerned about the issue. Birth control information is also available, as is information on health care equity which ensures that all people in this country, including immigrants, have access to sexual and reproductive health care. They also fight for sexual assault survivors to be protected by legislature. In this time of extreme turmoil, Planned Parenthood is both incredibly scrutinized, demonized, and threatened. Their cause is one of the most important in this country, and they could use your support.
Native Americans are one of the most disenfranchised groups in the country. The U.S. government has reneged on treaty after treaty promising reservations help with basic necessities such as obtaining food and employment. They have been beaten down time and time again by those who came to this land and stole it from them. The tragedy that the American government has rained down on them for centuries is nothing short of horrific. In 1970, attorney John Echohawk started the Native American Rights Fund, which provides legal representation for Native American tribes, groups, and individuals. Indian law is extremely complicated and constantly changing, so groups like NARF can help Native peoples navigate the increasingly difficult legal landscape. In its 50 years of service, NARF has become one the most visible and important Native American legal groups in the country and has become one of the most trusted consultants when it comes to creating policy surrounding Native rights. It is incredibly important that Native peoples have groups such as NARF fighting for them. When you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner and remember the old stories you were taught in grade school of the happy pilgrims and helpful Indians, think of the truth and that you can do something to help.
Out Boulder is BOCO’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy organization. They are about celebrating the vibrancy of the queer community and the beauty of equality while also understanding and fighting against the very real issues that the community faces. Their work transcends sociological labels such as gender identity, race, and sexual orientation. Instead, they work to make our community more inclusive and more beautiful as a result. They provide LGBTQ+ training programs that seek to inform and spread awareness about the queer community, its values, its struggles, its importance in our world. They also provide access to mental health services; COVID vaccines; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) education; youth services; and volunteer opportunities. The organization is about uniting us all through our differences, celebrating them, reminding us all that no matter who you love, who you identify as, what color your skin is, we are all worthy of respect and a place in this world. Their reach is wide and ever growing, and you can help with that.
When one thinks of the holidays, one thinks of a bounty, a wealth of gorgeous food steaming in the cold air. Turkey in the center of the table and vibrant vegetables and sides surrounding it, knives and forks held expectantly, eagerly, the dog licking its lips under the table. As important as food is in our culture, many do not stop to think about where their food comes from. Growing Gardens seeks to change this. They manage over 400 sustainable urban farming plots across seven locations in BOCO. Each location grows sustainable food that can then be distributed to the community. They also have community gardens and sustainable agriculture classes focused on cooking, bees and goats, and gardening. Interestingly, they offer something known as “horticultural therapy,” which helps seniors and people with disabilities improve their cognitive and motor abilities. Food is on the mind come holiday season, and organizations such as Growing Gardens are working to reconnect us with our local food systems and fight food insecurity.
The Boulder Jewish Community Center is dedicated to the celebration of culture, community, and inclusion. Their website lists their values as community, joy, care, respect, growth, and generosity. Through all their programs and activities, they uphold these values by providing safe places to learn and grow and feel at home. They have an early education school for kids and camps and afterschool programs for teens. For adults, they hold art classes, health and wellness education programs, celebrations of Jewish women, the Boulder Jewish Film Festival, even pickleball clinics. In addition, one of their core tenets is their dedication to sustainable living. Their Milk and Honey Farm has year-round programs that teach sustainable farming practices to all age groups and is run largely on solar energy. In the wake of Kanye West’s antisemitic tweets that have emboldened antisemites across the country, organizations such as the Boulder JCC are more important than ever. Antisemitism is a disease that must be fought with love and joy and unabashed celebration. The JCC is a light in our community, one that can be brightened this holiday season with your support, regardless of your religious beliefs.
Perhaps the youngest and smallest organization on our list, Feet Forward isn’t any less deserving of your attention. Founder Jennifer Livovich fought her way out of homelessness and used her experiences to form Feet Forward, an organization that provides the unhoused with hot meals, haircuts, and opportunities to change their situations. It recognizes basic human needs like access to food, hygiene services, and generally being treated as humans. An unhoused person should not be any less worthy of respect and compassion. Feet Forward recognizes how important basic dignity is. Being on the street for an extended period of time can make a person hopeless. Feet Forward seeks to provide that hope, to allow unhoused individuals to recognize within themselves the ability to change their situation, to climb out of the darkness. The cold seasons are incredibly dangerous for the unhoused, with many freezing to death out there searching for warmth. As you sit around your tables with your families gathered in your warm homes, take a look out the window and know that you can do something to help.
Conscious Alliance recognizes the power and impact of art. With the tagline Art That Feeds, they work with a large network of artists, musicians, food makers, and music fans to feed those facing food insecurity. They run food drives at major concerts such as Phish, STS9, Umphrey’s McGee, Goose, and many more. Each show, they partner with an artist who creates a poster that fans can get if they bring 20 cans of non-perishable food items or make a monetary donation. The donations are then distributed to Pine Ridge Native American Reservation, local schools, families in need, and more. By using this platform of music and art, Conscious Alliance is able to shine a light on an issue that many are fortunate enough to never have to think about. After the devastation of the Marshall Fires they worked to feed affected families and households that had lost everything. Around Thanksgiving, they distribute turkeys to Pine Ridge, a place known as a “food desert,” as well as to families in Boulder County and the surrounding areas that can’t afford a Thanksgiving meal. Each dollar donated can feed two kids, so any donation goes an incredibly long way.
The cause is simple: Mothers are tired of their children being slaughtered. Gun violence is a uniquely American epidemic. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 531 mass shootings in America this year alone. One would think that the country’s population would seek out every single possibility to stop the senseless, preventable deaths of hundreds of our citizens, of our children. Moms Demand Action believes in this fight. Started in the wake of the Sandy Hook Massacre as a Facebook group by Shannon Watts, a mother of five, Moms Demand Action has developed into a full-fledged movement composed of mothers, fathers, students, families, concerned citizens, anyone who cares enough to work to prevent gun violence in America. With a chapter in every state and Washington D.C., they have grown to be one of the most visible and important groups in the fight against gun violence. This is a wound that has never been allowed to heal, constantly ripped open by news of yet another incident occurring almost daily. It’s especially fresh for the people of Boulder County after a shooter killed 10 people at the Table Mesa King Soopers in Boulder a little over a year ago. It is difficult to not become desensitized to it, its mindlessness, its frequency. It should not take what happened in Uvalde to reignite the conversation. Action has to happen now. These are the people keeping the conversation, the fight, alive.
Imagine! seeks to provide people with cognitive, physical, and developmental disabilities with opportunities to become involved with their communities. They divide their services between two distinct categories: Community Centered Board Services and Direct Support Services. CCB services are designed to be an access point for local towns and areas to receive entry into local, state, and federally funded programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. DSS are designed to integrate people with developmental, physical, and cognitive disabilities into their communities. These include employment services, educational and therapeutic services, recreation activities, living opportunities, and behavioral health services. Their work is dedicated to equity, inclusion, love, and compassion — values of the holiday season.
Community Food Share is a Feeding America food bank serving Boulder and Broomfield Counties. They see themselves as just another friendly neighbor, the kind of neighbor that doesn’t really exist anymore, one that lives next door and bakes you a cake when you move in and watches your cat when you ask them to. While they deliver food to seniors, families, and anyone else who might need it, they also act as a sort of hub, a nucleus of organizations all dedicated to fighting hunger in their respective communities. Approximately 80% of the food they distribute is donated and 65% is distributed to larger agencies that then use it to help communities, while 25% is delivered directly. The holiday season is best spent with warm food and full bellies surrounded by love. Community Food Share works everyday to make that a reality right next door.