If you were looking for one place to experience pure joy during this first weekend in December, you could have found it at Students H.O.P.E., in its 25th year as Colorado Academy’s largest student-run event. After months of planning and a nonstop rush to set up on Friday, more than 100 student volunteers, led by Co-Presidents Aly Gallagher, Emily Dawson, and Gretchen Carpenter, turned CA’s campus into a wonderful resource for 2,200 individuals, parents, and children in need.

Had you been at CA, here’s what you might have seen:

  • People waiting at the door to enter even before H.O.P.E. had started
  • Faculty and students speaking Spanish to help people check in
  • Little children giggling in delight as they scrambled through a giant bouncy castle with the help of CA students
  • Older children playing enthusiastic games of pick-up indoor soccer and basketball with CA volunteers
  • Parents picking up toiletries, diapers, and filling bags with clothes and shoes donated by the CA community
  • People lining up for eye exams and flu shots with help from CA families and parents of alumni with medical backgrounds
  • Families waiting patiently for their turn to have little ones, dressed in their holiday best, visit with a bilingual Santa who is in his second decade of helping at H.O.P.E.
  • Sodexo General Manager and CA Food Services Director Paul Worley serving more than 1,200 a holiday meal which included 2,100 chicken breasts, 630 pounds of macaroni and cheese, and the 1,209 pieces of pie
  • CA faculty and staff with their families helping in every way possible
  • CA students everywhere, helping to check in, fold clothes, direct visitors, take Santa pictures, serve food, carry food trays to help mothers with children, and make everyone feel welcome
  • Little children smiling as they left H.O.P.E. clutching wrapped gifts, new backpacks, or kicking brand-new soccer balls

At the very end of the day, a woman who was homeless and walking with a cane, stood outside the Campus Center with all her belongings packed in two bags. The distance to the other side of campus where busses to take her back to a shelter seemed insurmountable. Along came a CA H.O.P.E. volunteer, who picked up her bags, carried them, and slowly walked with her back to the bus. It was a single small gesture of kindness—in a day of countless kindnesses.

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