And how you can too.
For many, the holidays are a time for outreach to those who are struggling. You can find endless ways to volunteer—check out the ideas below—but if you need additional inspiration, look no further than BackCountry resident Lily Larsen. Last month, this Mountain Ridge Middle School student wrapped up the second phase of her aid project to the children of Syria, sending 127 pairs of much-needed socks and 162 pairs of underwear. This followed the 335 stuffed animals Lily collected and sent last May.
Her inspiration sprang from a conversation with a Syrian family friend, who explained how the 2011 uprising changed everything in her once-peaceful homeland, creating more than one million child refugees, many of whose parents were imprisoned or killed. Lily thought stuffed animals might help those grieving children.
“I wanted to give them something to hang on to,” says Lily. “I thought about how it would feel if something like that happened to me.” A school project prompted her to take action, and the BackCountry community responded generously to her flyers by dropping off toys, and more recently, clothing. Fired up by her success, Lily plans to continue her outreach projects twice each year, shipping the goods to Boston’s NuDay Syria, an organization that forwards contributions to the struggling country each month.
For Lily, it was kids in crisis who inspired her to act. What might it be for you? Handypersons (or those willing to learn) might want to pick up a hammer for Habitat for Humanity. This nonprofit has built simple, affordable housing for families since 1976.
A sports background is not required, but could add to your joy in working with Special Olympics Colorado. This organization provides year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities—a great way to develop physical fitness, courage, skills and friendships.
The Gathering Place is Denver’s only daytime drop-in center for women, children, and transgender individuals who are experiencing poverty or homelessness. Tutoring, meal prep and serving, childcare, and pro bono professional services are always needed.
One in seven Coloradans isn’t sure where his or her next meal is coming from. And half are kids. You can help move the food along to hungry people by volunteering at Food Bank of the Rockies.
Here’s a great way to thank a vet. Visit military.com and explore the countless ways to give back, from writing letters of appreciation to donating books and groceries.
Homelessness is especially difficult during winter months. You can bring a bit of cheer by helping at a health fair for homeless children. Teach a cooking class. Or just play a game of checkers. Learn more at Colorado Coalition.
And if none of these feel quite right, check out the Volunteers of America site, which offers a huge range of opportunities in our metro area.