SOUTHERN COLORADO — It's the season of giving, and there's no community like southern Colorado. While it's a time many of us gather with our loved ones around the dinner table, for many families the holidays aren't always a merry and bright time for everyone.
With the omicron variant surging, many families will once again be separated for Christmas. In addition to COVID-19 concerns, other holiday stress such as financial struggles to remembering loved ones who have passed away also emerge during this time, and many people can also use an extra bit of support.
According to a survey from the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) 64 percent of people with mental illness report holidays make their conditions worse.
If you want to help families and individuals in our community, News 5 has compiled a list of some of our favorite charities and organizations that we've worked with this past year, and that are in need of donations. We've also found ways you can help families specifically during the holiday season so that they have a Christmas that they won't forget.
Kids on Bikes
What better gift for Christmas than a bike, here at News 5 we're partnering with a special effort to help with just that. Kids on Bikes is an exceptional program where children learn about cycling and are given an opportunity to earn their own bike. If you have a bicycle gathering dust, put it to good use and donate it! Donation drop-off locations are listed here. Cash donations are also accepted through their site.
Getting gifts for children can be a strain for many families, which is why for 98 years, Christmas Unlimited has worked to provide gifts for local children. Christmas Unlimited is looking for volunteers not just this week, but all season long. The organization also does a large school supply drive later on in the year. Anyone who wishes to donate toys, money, or their time as a volunteer, can do so by dropping off donations or online.
Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center
Mt. Carmel Veteran Services helps veterans and their families in many ways including mental health and wellness assistance, and in transitioning out of the military. This past year News 5 was proud to partner with Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center as part of our You Are Not Alone campaign, bringing awareness to the challenges faced by active duty, reserve, and guard members alongside veterans in our communities.
Lutheran Family Services
Initially founded to help with adoption placement, Lutheran Family services now provide care in a wide range of areas including birth parent counseling, foster care, aging services, international adoptions, services to refugees, aid following disasters, etc.
KOAA News 5 partnered with Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains and Vanguard Skin Specialists to fundraise for the 100+ Afghan refugees who will be resettled in Colorado Springs by the end of the year. News 5 hosted a telethon and thanks to your donations, we beat our $100,000 goal with $103,605 in donations, which will go toward helping Afghan refugees find affordable housing and furniture. Lutheran Family Services is still accepting donations for refugee resettlement as well as other services they provide.
Care and Share
Instead of throwing out any Christmas leftovers, you might want to see if there's anything you can give to Care and Share. According to Care and Share, each year the food bank is able to rescue millions of pounds of food through donations from partner organizations. These pallets of food are picked up by the nonprofit's route drivers and delivered to their distribution center. Earlier this year KOAA participated in a day-long food donation drive for the organizations, but if you missed you can always still donate today.
Westside CARES is a non-profit that provides those in need with everything from food to financial assistance. Westside CARES also helps people with their healthcare needs. They have a nurse on-site and have a weekly doctor's clinic.