A local military nonprofit is hoping that Colorado residents and businesses will help it make Christmas merrier this year for 170 children of fallen troops and first responders.
Angels of America's Fallen, which picks up the tab for extracurricular activities at an average expense of $1,000 per child per year, has 170 children on its waiting list, says retired Lt. Col. Joe Lewis, who founded the charity last year.
"We're hoping to do an end-of-the-year push, to raise more funds and notify some of the kids before Christmas or at Christmas that the program will be picking them up next year," Lewis said.
The organization serves 100 children in 20 states. Because of Lewis' ties to Alabama, he's had success landing grants to pay for the activities of Alabama applicants - there are no applicants from that state on the waiting list.
Lewis hopes that Colorado businesses will do the same for Colorado's children in 2014. The nonprofit serves 25 Colorado children, but Fort Carson's Survivor Outreach Services estimates there are at least 350 children of fallen troops in the state, Lewis said.
The charity aims to follow each child through age 18.
By the spring, Lewis hopes to launch an interactive map on the nonprofit's website on which visitors can see profiles of children in need of sponsorship.
"Maybe they would see that some of them are near them and sponsor them, or a church or a business would," Lewis said.
Lewis would like to make video profiles of children waiting for sponsorship but says he's in need of a new Mac computer with video editing software to make his plans a reality.
"A big part of making this work is telling the stories of the children via video, and for that we need a new Mac that can handle processing high-definition video and making videos that tell the stories," he said.
For more information on the charity or to learn how to help, visit www.aoafallen.org.