The Empty Stocking Fund started 35 years ago as a way to help children enjoy the holiday season by providing toys and clothes to families in need. In that first year, we raised approximately $40,000 and helped 27 families. Now, ESF supports partner agencies to reach almost 300,000 vulnerable people each year in the Colorado Springs area. The mission statement says it well, “Empty Stocking Fund sparks the giving spirit of the Pikes Peak Region to benefit local nonprofits serving neighbors in need.”

Twenty health and human service partner agencies will work with ESF this year to help the fund exceed the $1 million giving goal it has surpassed each of the past 10 years. Last year ESF raised the third-highest amount in the campaign’s history — $1,206,371 — with over $21 million raised since its founding year of 1984.

The funds raised go to partner agencies that supply everything from rent and utilities to warm meals, shelter, transitional housing, health screenings, education, referrals and so much more. These agencies work all year long to support people in crisis, while helping others achieve self-sufficiency.

“I am always humbled by the generosity of this community. As the need grows greater, so does the giving spirit. It is about compassion and recognizing that we will each, likely, have someone close to us impacted by one of these remarkable agencies at some point in their lives,” said Gazette Charities Executive Director Deb Mahan.

Matching partners make the dollars go even farther: Since 1997, El Pomar Foundation has matched $1 for every $3 up to $200,000 annually. Since 2000, The Bruni Foundation has matched $1 for every $10 raised up to $70,000. Supporting partners like The Gazette, Gazette Charities, El Pomar Foundation, Add Staff, Wells Fargo and Pikes Peak Community Foundation cover all administrative costs. Therefore, ESF is able to ensure 100% of donations go directly to the agencies working to help our neighbors in need.

Local businesses partner to benefit ESF with the proceeds from special events throughout the campaign and year-round. These community partners have included popular gathering places such as The Broadmoor and the Broadmoor World Arena, FH Beerworks, Axe and The Oak, Almagre, the Promenade Shops at Briargate, as well as businesses such as Genesis Medspa and Signature Homes by Steve Scott.

Collective impact

Wondering where Empty Stocking Fund spends the money and how far it can go?

Here are some of the ways your donations make a difference:

• $2,000 provides two weeks of healthcare services to homeless youth sheltered at The Place

• $200 covers eight hours of behavioral health for a child and family in crisis through CPCD

• $20 equals 150 meals via the Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado

• $1 allows a military family a fun-filled day of fishing at Camp Shady Brook from YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region

“The real impact of this campaign is in collaboration. Businesses, foundations, nonprofits and individuals all working together to transform lives and therefore, the life of our community,” said Gazette President and Publisher Chris Reen.

Ways to give

• Visit EmptyStockingFundCO.org (PayPal and Venmo accepted)

• Mail a check to Empty Stocking Fund, P.O. Box 910942, Denver, CO 80291-0942

• Text ESF to 56512

Patty Tomsky is a writer, visual artist and marketer who has lived in the Pikes Peak region for nearly 12 years. Find her books on Amazon.com and blog on pattytomsky.com. Contact her at patty.tomsky@gazette.com.

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