Jan 16, 2011 7:40 PM by Matt Stafford

Local computer whizzes take Springs charity "to camp"

"Isn't that beautiful? It is beautiful, look at that!" an excited John and Leslie Miller say while checking out the new website for their charity Crossfire Ministries. Since 1992 they've been helping needy in the Pikes Peak area -- mostly with food and household items.

It wasn't until the late-nineties that they bought a computer, and they put their first website up about seven years ago; but even after seven years, computers and website building can still be tricky.

"The last update on their newsletter, on their website, was at least 2009," says Gabriel Villa, co-organizer of the first GiveCamp in Colorado.

That was until now; Crossfire Ministries was picked to get a new website from a GiveCamp.

Microsoft started the first one in Dallas in 2007; helping charities revamp their websites. The one in Colorado Springs, January 14 - 16, was the first one in Colorado. 15 or so volunteers from across the state have worked all weekend for Crossfire Ministries, giving them a facelift to their digital image.

"Let's go over here to the volunteer thing and see how that's worked out," John Miller says as he and his wife navigate the new website. The volunteers used the Millers' ideas, but also added things that they would have never thought of.

"Oh look at this!" John Miller said excitedly when he saw that with just one click of a button they could translate the whole site into Spanish.

"We played around with the ideas of what we can integrate and what we want to build for them," Villa says.

The best part for Crossfire Ministries is that every "byte" of it was done for free.

"I have no idea, but I'll bet it's in the range of $15,000 or more," John Miller said, trying to guess what they would have had to pay for this much work. They say it wouldn't have been in the budget.

"Maybe about 30 to 50 thousand (dollars)," says Villa; adding that each one of the volunteers could probably charge at least $100 and hour, and maybe much more.

Software developers like Kevin Kruger could have made $2,000 or more on the work he put in. He wanted to help out, and this was more appealing than just sending money.

"I felt this was the area that I could have the most impact," Krueger said.

The volunteers' expertise lets them do some complex stuff, but also put the website together in a way that the Millers will be able to use.

"The easier it is to update the site, the more likely the site is going to get updated," explains Krueger.

"We just never could have done this on our own, ever," says Leslie Miller. She's hoping the new site will attract more volunteers. Crossfire Ministries is operated 100% by volunteers.

"People come where they like to see something that's really going on and worthwhile, and now we can show them," says John Miller.

Keeping to their slogan -- "Help us help those in need" -- they want all this help given to them to someday help someone who needs it.

It's a big year for Crossfire Ministries; along with the new website they're also moving into a new building in February. To check out their newly updated site, click here.

The organizers of this GiveCamp say they would like to plan another one. For local information on GiveCamp, click here. You can get information on the full GiveCamp program by following this link. The main site says that another Colorado GiveCamp is being planned for Denver.


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