On Christmas morning, thousands of children opened presents that were wrapped by parents and purchased by giving hearts across the Denver metro area.
By the week leading up to the holiday, A Precious Child, a Broomfield-based nonprofit that serves eight surrounding counties, distributed gifts for 12,000 children through its Precious Gift program. Parents and caregivers are handed the presents, unwrapped. They also are given wrapping paper so they are more engaged, and dignified, in the process.
With more than 250,000 children living below self-sufficiency in Colorado, Brittany Polinski, vice president of programs and evaluation for A Precious Child, said it is no surprise that families struggle to buy gifts for their children.
“The simple act of providing a gift to a child in need during celebratory life events allows them to experience the joys of childhood and give them hope for the future,” Polinski said.
Members of the nonprofit are pleased to be able to help so many families during the holidays and are grateful to all the volunteers, companies, churches and civic organizations for their support, she said. Those who sponsored the wishes of children in need ensured they were able to receive a gift this season when they otherwise would have gone without.
A Precious Child asks that each child whose name appeared on giving tree tags be gifted items worth a minimum of $50. By that estimation, more than $600,000 was raised in donations this year for children in Arapahoe, Adams, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson and Weld counties.
Giving trees were placed throughout the community starting the day after Thanksgiving, but the largest centers were at the Orchard Town Center and FlatIron Crossing Mall.
On Dec. 17, A Precious Child held its annual distribution day, where staff and volunteers handed out gifts for 2,000 children of families out of its headquarters at 7051 W. 118th Ave.
During that day, Kyle Killen, Dillon Ward and Jeff Wittig from the Colorado Mammoth Lacrosse team dropped off teddy bears and helped hand out gifts. Several dental service providers were there and representatives of Adams County Health and Human Services signed up families for multiple services.
Famlies who received gifts through this program included clients A Precious Child serves out of its resource center, as well as in collaboration with other local nonprofit, school and government partners.
Bicycles were among the most-requested items this year, Susan Williamson, a spokeswoman with A Precious Child, said, along with Disney’s Frozen merchandise and gift cards, which are especially popular among teenagers. This year more than $6,000 worth of gift cards were donated.
This year’s goal was to serve 12,000 children – 1,000 more than last year’s goal.
A Precious Child staff distributed gifts through Monday and did not turn any family away, Williamson said. The small number of toys that remain will be used for birthday bags, along with added cake mix, frosting and candles, throughout the year.
This year, A Precious Child partnered with approximately 60 agency partners, including schools, churches, civic groups and other nonprofits to reach families.
Project Manager Lorena Robles said this year she estimates that between 85% and 90% of A Precious Child clients meet low-income requirements. Clients are referred through other agencies and already have shown proof-of-need. The rest of clients are working through extenuating circumstances, such as loss of a job, an illness, or domestic violence in the home.
The nonprofit will continue to see between 40 and 50 families a day. January through March are typically the slowest times for individual and group volunteers, Williamson said, and A Precious Child encourages sign-up so families can continue to be served throughout the winter.
A Precious Child provides children in need with opportunities and resources to empower them to achieve their full potential through programs and drives that collect sports equipment, coats, hygiene products, backpack and school supplies. In its resource center, families also can shop for clothing for everyone in the family, diapers, formula and household items.
In 2018, the nonprofit served nearly 49,000 disadvantaged and displaced children. Famlies could be facing challenges such as abuse, neglect, crisis situations and poverty.
Since it was founded in 2008, A Precious Child has provided opportunities and resources to more than 240,000 children and their caregivers.