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University of Colorado student Max Bridge wraps gifts on Wednesday that will be given to the homeless at a charity event this weekend, put on by Rotoract.
MARTY CAIVANO
University of Colorado student Max Bridge wraps gifts on Wednesday that will be given to the homeless at a charity event this weekend, put on by Rotoract.

If you go

What: CU Holiday Hope Celebration

When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: University Memorial Center, Glenn Miller Ballroom

More info: colorado.edu/studentgroups/rotaract

University of Colorado students Dylan Mark and Maxwell Bridge have spent their entire semester gathering donations from local businesses.

They spent most of Wednesday wrapping the 200-plus donations, which will be given as gifts Saturday to homeless people and poor families at the inaugural CU Holiday Hope Celebration.

“It’s been a lot of hard work and perseverance,” said Bridge, who worked on the project as part of an internship with the CU chapter of the Colorado Public Interest and Research Group — or CoPIRG.

Saturday’s celebration is hosted by CU’s Rotaract Club, a student group focused on leadership and community service. More than 50 student volunteers from CU’s Greek community, Rotaract, CoPIRG and other student groups will present the gifts, along with a holiday buffet, to underprivileged people who attend the free event.

Organizers are expecting about 200 guests. Any remaining donations and gifts will be sent to local organizations or handed out to homeless people around Boulder.

CU student groups and Santa Claus will provide entertainment, and free bus rides will be provided from the Boulder Public Library to the University Memorial Center throughout the event.

But Genevieve Smith, CU Rotaract president and event organizer, said the celebration is about more then just a warm plate of food and presents.

“We don’t just want this event to be about giving,” Smith said. “Obviously that’s a huge part of what we’re doing, but we’re really hoping to bridge a gap between the CU community and the homelessness community in Boulder.”

Smith said CU students are often oblivious to the struggles of the local community, and she’s hoping to create awareness and caring among CU students.

She may already be seeing some success among dedicated volunteers like Bridge.

“This has definitely been a learning experience for me,” Bridge said. “I’ll definitely continue to contribute to the homeless community in Boulder as much as I can while I’m at CU.”

While several local organizations such as Boulder Carriage House, Emergency Family Assistance Association, the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, Attention Homes and Project Revive contribute similar services, students said there’s something different about their holiday celebration.

“We know there are food drives and clothing donations happening around Boulder,” Bridge said. “But we are giving luxury items as gifts. We wanted to give these people something they don’t normally get to have.”

Each present will consist of about $10 worth of luxury items like jewelry, hats, sleds, gift cards, journals and pens.

CoPIRG is still accepting gift donations through the event Saturday. Donors are asked to contact Mark via email at dylan.mark@colorado.edu.

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