Joyful Givers spread Christmas spirit
Thanksgiving is almost upon and the signs of the Christmas season are beginning to show. With Christmas right around the corner Grand County’s annual toy/clothing drive program, called Joyful Givers, is gearing up to make the holidays a bit brighter for everyone.
Snow is finally beginning to pile up in the high country and Christmas decorations and lights are being hung throughout the county. The holiday season is a time of joy, but for many of the working-class families of Grand County it can be a period of consternation. Parents often find themselves caught between bills and their desire to provide a quality Christmas for their kiddos; with reality sometimes forcing them to make a disappointing decision.
To insure Grand County families can enjoy the wondrous Christmas season, and to hopefully create some yuletide cheer, the Granby Police Department (GPD) pairs up each year with the Grand Angels organization for a program they call Joyful Givers.
Joyful Givers provides gifts and other necessities to families in Grand County for the Christmas holiday. The program has been in operation for nearly a decade. The all-volunteer venture provides toys, shoes, coats, food certificates, family outings and other items to Grand County families in need. The broad idea of the Joyful Givers program is to provide parents and children alike with the opportunity to give their loved ones gifts at Christmas time, so as to feel the sincere and selfless joy of giving.
“The whole intent of Joyful Givers is about the joy of giving,” said Granby Chief of Police Bill Housley. “Pretty much everyone remains anonymous. It is simply about the pleasure and joy of giving. If it wasn’t for the need to get it (the story) out there I wouldn’t even put my name out.”
The program has multiple components but is broadly divided into two main areas: gifts parents can give to children and gifts children give to their parents. Far and away the largest portion of the resources dedicated to Joyful Givers goes to gifts for children. To participate in the program parents fill out applications listing their gift needs, which the GPD and Grand Angels attempts to fill.
Each year volunteers for the program travel to the Front Range for a shopping day to purchase the gifts Joyful Givers will provide to families at Christmas time. Chief Housley said Joyful Givers buys around 100 pairs of shoes and boots each year for the program that are given away to local youngsters.
According to Housley the program purchases somewhere around 700 to 1,000 gifts each year for Joyful Givers. Housley highlighted the fact that the gift purchases are made possible entirely by donations from local citizens. “For our small community that is pretty significant,” Housley said.
Housley pointed out the entire program is confidential. After families have applied to the program they are given an identification number. The ID numbers are placed on the appropriate corresponding gifts for children. Only Chief Housley and one individual from the Grand Angels organization know the actual names of the citizens who receive aid through the program.
Additionally Grand Angels sets up a Secret Santa Shop gift giveaway wherein kids get to select gifts to give to their parents, so children can also experience the unique joy of giving to others. Along with the gift-giving portion of Joyful Givers families who participate in the program receive a food gift certificate to one of our local grocery stores. Chief Housley pointed out the food gift certificates are only valid for food purchases and cannot be used to buy other non-food items such as cigarettes.
All donations and contributions received by the Joyful Givers program go directly to needy children and their families. “There are no monies, not a single solitary penny, that goes to the personal expenses of any volunteers or any traveling expenses. One hundred percent goes to children.”
Chief Housley added the Joyful Givers program has a “rule” that any personal costs derived from volunteering for the program are absorbed by the volunteers themselves and that Joyful Givers will not reimburse volunteers for their expenses.
Those caveats don’t dampen the spirits of volunteers though.
“There are a significant number of people who volunteer every year to make this system work,” Housley said. “That includes people who wrap gifts for us, people who travel and help shop, people who organize and stack gifts, and people who staff the rooms as we are giving gifts away. This is all time that is donated.”
Housley said the program has about 20 core volunteers who do the lion’s share of the work associated with organizing and preparing the Joyful Givers program. But the success of their efforts is largely dependent upon the charitable and giving nature of the citizens of Grand County.
“Obviously to fund this it costs a significant amount of money,” Housley said. “We accept donations from the community. They can do that either through the police department here under Joyful Givers or they can contribute to Grand Angels. People can also volunteer to adopt the gift needs of a child, or adopt the needs of a family.”
Thankfully the residents of Grand County are very giving. Housley said there are multiple local families who donate significantly to the program each year in terms of financial contributions, gift purchases and volunteering their time. “They are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts,” Housley said. “They just keep calling us and asking if there is anything else.”
If you are interested in contributing to the Joyful Givers program, either through monetary donations or by volunteering your time, you can contact the GPD or the Grand Angels organization.
“I just want to thank the community for their generosity and their willingness to help the children of need in our county,” Housley said.
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