This is one of a series of stories about the nonprofit agencies that receive money from The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking campaign that runs through the holidays.
Carol, a single, working mother of three children, has always pushed to make ends meet without asking for help.
But an advocate at her toddler's day care facility, urged her to make her family's holiday a little brighter this year.
At the day care facility, low-income families are assigned an advocate and Carol's last year told her about assistance programs, including Pikes Peak Community Action Agency. The organization assists with child care, job training and personal development, among other services.
"It's a really wonderful program for people that are genuinely in need," said Carol, whose last name is not being used to protect her privacy.
She moved to Colorado Springs 11 years ago, after serving in the Army at Fort Hood before going to college and getting married.
Now divorced without child support, she works full time providing for her two sons, 2 and 18, and daughter, 15.
"I'm not the type that takes assistance - I like to work for it myself," she said.
Last year, her advocate mentioned the Empty Stocking Fund and how it provides money to organizations that assist people in the community.
"I kind of just said, no I'll figure something out," Carol said.
Her advocated approached her again this year: "What are your plans for the holidays?"
"They don't really expect a lot," Carol said of her children.
This time, Carol sent the children's ages and clothing sizes. She received clothes for all three, which she has wrapped and put under the tree.
Carol also received child-care assistance for a portion of her son's $189 a week day care.
"They've always been available and they've always informed me of the classes and activities they have throughout the week," she said.
A dental assistant, she gives back by volunteering at Kids In Need of Dentistry for those with parents unable to afford dental care.
While the faces are anonymous for those behind the gifts now under her family's tree, she and her family are impacted by their generosity.
"They're really wonderful people because they really do go out of their way during the holidays," she said.
HOW TO DONATE
Make a secure donation at www.fillanemptystocking.org. Call 476-1673 to make a credit card or stock donation. Make check payable to the Empty Stocking Fund and mail to P.O. Box 910942, Denver, CO 80291-0942. Like us on Facebook at EmptyStockingFund or follow us on Twitter @esfsprings.