Making Spirits Bright This Holiday Season
By: Kris Hazelton
Bright Christmas has been helping Estes Park area needy families provide a wonderful Christmas for their children for the last 24 years. This week, the many dedicated volunteers distributed mounds of toys, gifts, clothing and food to families in need this holiday season.
This is the 24th year Bright Christmas has been in existence. The first year, the organization helped out five local families. It has now grown into a huge entity which takes many volunteers, many hours of work to pull together every year.
Jean Austin, founder of Bright Christmas said proudly, “This year, the need was greater and we helped out 130 families! The community has been just great, donating clothing, toys, bicycles, food and more! I am amazed every year at what this town does for others in need, its just heartwarming!”
Through Bright Christmas, local churches, organizations, families, club members or businesses “adopt” a family and purchase gifts for the family. Also, with funds donated to Bright Christmas, food is purchased for a delicious Christmas dinner, shoes if requested from Plum Creek Shoe Station, plus extra staple foods to stock their cabinets.
Volunteers with the Bright Christmas organization were very busy these past few weeks, sorting, wrapping and getting ready to distribute the thousands of gifts and food items donated by members of our generous community. Pick-up of the gifts and food took place last Wednesday, December 10 at the 18 Hole Golf Course.
Jean’s husband Jim said that one of the best things about Bright Christmas is pick-up day when they get to see the faces of the families as they receive their gifts. “It’s such a special day for us and them!”
Said Jean, “One of the neatest things about Bright Christmas is that families that we have helped get on their feet in the past, contacted us and told us they’d like to adopt a family. This year, we had three families helping out that were Bright Christmas recipients in the past. Its great to see these families giving back.”
Bright Christmas isn’t just a holiday project, they also provide school supplies, emergency clothing and infant needs as requested by Larimer County Social Services, Crossroads Ministry or the schools all year long.
Jean always modest, wanted to focus the attention on her many donors and volunteers. She said, “I want to make sure to thank all who donated to Bright Christmas, Poppy’s Restaurant, who feeds our volunteers, the Estes Valley Recreation and Park District employees who really help out, and Crossroads Ministry who, without their partnership, Bright Christmas wouldn’t be what it is today!”
She also wanted to thank the Board members and volunteers of Bright Christmas as well as the many others who came and helped out whenever they had time.
Jean and Jim Austin have created a wonderful service for our community by starting Bright Christmas and each year, they continue to amaze our community with their tireless enthusiasm and holiday spirit. Have a wonderful, bright Christmas!