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On Saturday, December 8th, Joie Gutierrez gathered her family for a surprise. Elves were coming to her house and she needed to get her seven children out the door before the elves arrived. These were special elves, the kind with Volunteers of America holiday spirit, and they were coming to decorate her house for Christmas.  This year, Volunteers of America and ARC Thrift stores decided to launch a Holiday Home Makeover project for ten families in need. VOA and ARC would find ten volunteer groups to match with the families, and these groups would have a generous budget at ARC to purchase Holiday decorations.

The Gutierrez family was one such family. At noon, a group of volunteers were coming to decorate their house for Christmas. Joie’s children did not know what was going on, just that there was something exciting about to happen and they could not wait to see what it was. Joie took her kids to the park and for pizza, and the “elves” descended on the family’s cozy townhome in the Sun Valley housing project. The volunteers worked for two hours, hanging stockings, putting up and decorating a tree, adding touches of Christmas everywhere. As a last touch, the volunteers had purchased gifts for the Gutierrez children – enough to spill out from under their tree and overflow into the living room. The children were delighted. They thought Santa came early, just for them, just to make this day special.

The Gutierrez Family
The Gutierrez family, after the “elves” decorated and delivered presents.

At volunteers of America, we love the Holidays. Making a child smile, giving a gift, feeding a family in need and providing shelter are what we do. For Thanksgiving, Volunteers of America handed out 1,200 baskets of food, each feeding a family of five. We served 1,500 Meals on Wheels and 1,500 meals to those in need for a Thanksgiving feast at Jackson’s Sports Rock. On December 8th, we handed out 6,500 Baskets of Joy to seniors all across the Metro Area. For Christmas, we gave away 2,000 food baskets, adopted 400 families, delivered 2,000 toys to children in need, served 1,500 Meals on Wheels and made sure 300 seniors could sit down to Christmas dinner at our meal sites. Thank you for supporting our efforts so serve the population’s most vulnerable.

-Jordan Sanders, Communications Specialist, Volunteers of America Colorado Branch