Charities Spread the Holiday Cheer

by Megan Miller

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Charities by the Numbers

  • Bright Christmas used to only support five families, but now they support over 135 families.
  • Bright Christmas has been going on for 32 years.
  • Blue Santa is expected to support over 100 people this year.
  • Bright Christmas raises $12,000 to $14,000 a year to spend on food for the families.
  • Bright Christmas has been hosted at the golf course for over 20 years.
  • Blue Santa had its start in 1995.

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Every Year, Bright Christmas collects bikes as one of the many things they give away as gifts. The bikes are labelled with tags to identify which family they go to. Last year, over 43 bikes were given away to children for Christmas.

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             Tis the season to give to all those who need it. Christmas is a holiday to give and receive gifts to those we care about. Giving is just as good as receiving because it gives other people a chance to be happy. Bright Christmas and Blue Santa are two Estes Park charities that aid the community during the holiday season. Both of these charities are involved in the schools in some way. The school is involved with Blue Santa by donating canned foods to the program, and Bright Christmas helps elementary, middle and high school students’ families during Christmas. 

            Bright Christmas has been helping families since 1984. Jean Austin, founder of Bright Christmas, thought of the idea in 1973. She was wrapping presents for her five children when she realized there were other kids who needed gifts, too. Austin and her helpers were totally anonymous when they first helped the families. 

            “It’s a great story, and it shows what a great community this is,” said Austin, who received the Philanthropy Award for Enduring Services this year. “It’s [Bright Christmas] a program that people really like to be involved with,” said Austin.

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            When a family can’t afford to buy Christmas presents for their children, Bright Christmas steps in and gives assistance. “…We do probably close to one hundred dollars worth of food per family,” said Austin. Bright Christmas makes sure that every child has presents under the tree on Christmas morning. 

    “It helps to boost families who are in need during one of the hard times of the year,” said Mark Miller, manager of the Estes Park Golf Courses. 

            Miller hosts Bright Christmas at the golf course’s clubhouse so the program can collect all of the food, boxes, and gifts. Families in need sign up at Crossroads and are assigned to sponsors, or people in the community willing to help. Then the sponsors goes out and buys items based off of what the family needs.

            “It is part of our responsibility to help others in the community who need it,” said Miller.       Many gifts are requested from the families. Items ranging from stuffed animals to bikes to beds, sponsors provide whatever is needed for the children. Along with the presents, families are provided one or two boxes of non-perishable food.

            “Some of the sponsors do amazing things like buy them [the families in need] trundle beds for their children or vacuum cleaners and microwaves,” said Austin. 

 Bright Christmas was meant to bring cheer to everyone and let children feel the magic of the holidays.

            Blue Santa, supported by the Estes Park Police Auxiliary, is another charity meant to help those in need. Blue Santa’s mission is to help the disabled, homebound and elderly people of the community. Non-perishable food, personal hygiene items and presents are collected to give to those who need them.

            “The most rewarding thing about Blue Santa is helping people within the community,” said Officer Curt Plassmeyer, the school’s resource officer. “Being able to deliver the things we collect directly to the families and seeing the gratitude they have is what I am most excited about.” 

            The high school is involved with Blue Santa as students annually donate at least one can of food to the program so the Auxiliary Police can distribute the food throughout the community.

Blue Santa is just another charity that spreads Holiday Cheer through the community. 

            Bright Christmas and Blue Santa are good examples of what a community can do to support everyone. Christmas is one of those holidays that can be hard for people to afford, but

Estes Park makes sure that everyone can enjoy a cold winter’s holiday with presents and family. 

     For more information on Blue Santa contact Estes Park Police Captain Corey Pass at 970-577-3828 or cpass@estes.org. For more information on Bright Christmas call Jean Austin at 586-2035 or Nancy Greg at 970-481-4390. Bright Christmas is in need of sponsors, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, dishes, glasses, bedding, and bathroom towels.

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