Make A Difference Day in Larimer County, Colorado engaged thousands of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. These youth volunteers helped with fall harvest activities at a community garden for their project. / Photo provided by United Way of Larimer County.
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A single day of volunteering can’t contain the giving spirit of this booming Rocky Mountain community. Since 2002, more than 30,000 residents have rallied into action during “Make A Difference Week” — including a record 4,450 three years ago, when a National Make A Difference Day Award went to the project coordinator, the United Way of Larimer County.
“It’s the premier day and week of service in our community,” says Adam Molzer of the United Way, which led 2,767 volunteers in more than 11,000 hours of service Oct. 22-28. They took on nearly 100 projects, from raking leaves for seniors to rehabbing a day center for the homeless. Businesses supplied half the workers, many wielding drills and saws: Employees of an architecture firm built a retractable awning to shade shelter dogs. Journalists from The Coloradoan newspaper constructed nine picnic tables for non-profits. Hewlett-Packard workers fashioned storage units for Boys & Girls Clubs. Advantage Bank employees turned soil and spread seeds to revive an area west of Fort Collins devastated by summer’s High Park fire.
As always, Larimer’s kids did their part. Saddened that the 87,000-acre fire had destroyed hundreds of homes, down to the last box of Christmas decorations, 40-some members of the Helping Hands Club at Fort Collins’ Shepardson Elementary School created ornaments and Christmas cards for High Park victims. “The fire made the kids think, ‘How would I feel if this happened to me?’ ” says adult leader Shana Bode. “It’s scary. So they voted to help in this small way. That’s what Make A Difference Day means to them.”