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By Nancy Hahn

The last few months have been disastrous for many people in our country and heart-rending for all of us. We witnessed hurricanes, massive fires, and manmade disasters of shootings, more shootings, and trucks driven into crowds. Faced with a flood of disasters we can’t control and can’t forget, we all can raise the good by finding ways to do something worthy and helpful in our own communities.

With the holiday season approaching, there are many ways to do just that. There are ways to give your time in volunteer activities. Donating food, toys, clothing and other items can add an extra boost of comfort and joy for someone’s holiday, also.

The Action Center

The Action Center at 8755 W. 14th Ave., Lakewood, provides needed support for struggling families and, also, for the homeless across Jefferson County.  The holidays put an extra strain on families who are already barely getting by. The Action Center can make the difference between a happy holiday and no holiday.

Nonperishable food items, as well as, jackets, winter boots and sleeping bags, are in short supply. The center packs thousands of Thanksgiving food boxes for families and hosts a Santa Shop, too. Parents can visit the shop without their little ones and choose the perfect Santa presents for Christmas morning. Donations of winter clothes, toys and school supplies are always needed.

An abundance of both donations and volunteers are important during this busy season. For more information, check out the Action Center online at theactioncenter.org or call 303-237-7704.

Wheat Ridge Optimists’ Blue Santa Toy Drive

The Wheat Ridge Optimist Club is guided by the Optimist vision to provide hope and a positive outlook in young people. Their activities encourage youngsters to have an active interest in their communities and civic activities. The Optimists sponsor a Junior Optimist’s club at Everitt Middle School. Two Thursday mornings a month, the Optimists meet at Stevens Elementary School from 8:40 to 9:10 to pack backpacks for students and welcome volunteers to lend a hand.

The Blue Santa Toy Collection will take place at the Lakeside Walmart at 5957 W. 44th Ave. on Nov. 25. From 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Optimist members, and Wheat Ridge and Edgewater police, will be collecting toys from shoppers.

Volunteers are welcome to help wrap gifts at Wheat Ridge City Hall, 7500 W. 29th Ave., on Dec. 15 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Optimists and police will deliver gifts the next day.  There is more information about dates, times and activities at www.wheatridgeoptimist.org.

Sponsor a Family Holiday Gift Drive

The Jefferson County Human Services Department encourages the public to help give a hand up to families during the holiday season. Nov. 1, they began a Sponsor a Family Holiday Gift Drive. This program supports children and families who otherwise might have no gifts this season. Many of the children have experienced abuse or neglect, but all those children still have Christmas dreams. Visit www.jeffco.us and enter “sponsor a family holiday gift drive” in the search box on the site to find out more about the program.

Toy Drive at Prospect Valley Elementary

Prospect Valley Elementary in Wheat Ridge is holding a toy drive until Dec. 8. This is the second year for the drive, which provides gifts for children who might otherwise have no new Christmas toy. School professionals identify children within the school who might benefit from the toy drive and the Optimist Club identifies children outside the Prospect Valley community. The community is invited to bring donations of new toys to the school at 3400 Pierson St., Wheat Ridge, during school hours.

Lakewood Needs Volunteers

Lakewood has a bounty of volunteer opportunities listed on the Lakewood.org website. Check them out if you’re looking for a one-time volunteer opportunity or more regular volunteer activity.

If you enjoy an old-fashioned holiday, Lakewood Lights is Friday, Dec. 1, and Saturday, Dec. 2, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Heritage Center might be a perfect event for you to volunteer. Volunteers will print photos with Santa, help children make ornaments, and serve hot chocolate and cookies. There are limited volunteer positions so check them out soon.

“We are currently looking to fill our Municipal Court Bailiff positions during the week,” said Karla Garland, Lakewood’s volunteer coordinator. “Also, we are recruiting for museum tour guides and museum gift shop volunteers.”

Garland can be reached at KarGra@Lakewood.org or at 303-987-7868.

Family Tree, Treasure Trunk Thrift Store

The Family Tree at 3805 Marshall St., Wheat Ridge, provides services designed to change the picture of domestic abuse and to combat homelessness. They provide a Domestic Violence outreach Program, Homeless Emergency Services, Family Stabilization Services, and many others. Among their services, they provide a place for supervised visitation with children.

Family Tree uses volunteers in a wide range of positions. If you are interested, check out the “Volunteer Opportunities” link on the website for more information.

Treasure Trunk Thrift Store at 5892 W. 44th Ave. in Wheat Ridge also belongs to Family Tree. The store is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4:30 p.m. Donations for Treasure Trunk can be brought during those hours, but check their website, first, for items they accept.

Kullerstrand Elementary Miracle Shop

Kullerstrand Elementary at 12225 W. 38th Ave. in Wheat Ridge is accepting donations of toys or cash for their Miracle Shop for Christmas.  Donations make a wonderful difference for a struggling family. The Miracle Shop enables parents to shop for their children for Christmas.

Tim Weaver, Kullerstrand Family Liaison, explained parents with very limited funds are able to purchase brand new toys and gifts for a very minimal amount. Parents feel good, because they paid for the gifts. Children feel good, because they have new toys.

Lakewood Police Department Gift Drive

Just before Christmas, the Lakewood Police Department delivers gifts to children in Lakewood whose families would not be able to buy presents. Organizing a new toy drive in your neighborhood, donating, or sponsoring a family are some ways Lakewood citizens can help with this effort. New toys, new clothing, or new books will certainly brighten someone’s Christmas. Toys, books, hair accessories, school supplies, board games, skateboards, or cash donations can help with the program. Donations can be mailed or left at the Lakewood Police Department at 445 S. Allison Parkway. For more information, contact LPDVolunteerCoordinator@LakewoodCo.org or call 303-987-7105

Knitting for Collier Hospice

If you are looking for a volunteer opportunity and you enjoy knitting or crocheting, Knitting for Collier Hospice might be a group you’d enjoy. The group began when Jacqueline Whittaker, a nurse at Collier Hospice, asked a friend if her knitting and crocheting friends might be willing to make a few blankets or shawls for hospice patients.

The first batch of blankets and comfort shawls given to the Hospice was everything that Whittaker had hoped they would be. Patients loved the soft coziness and their families loved the homey touch to warm up the hospital atmosphere.

The group meets in Wheat Ridge at Ipie on Saturdays and Mighty Joe’s Kitchen on Wednesdays to knit and enjoy good conversation. Events are posted on Facebook and NextDoor. You can, also, send your name and email to knittingatcollierhospice@gmail.com for more information.