In the fall of 2020, when we were all trying to figure out how to get through the pandemic and still hold on to some of our valued traditions at Colorado Academy, discussions about how to pull off the annual CA Students HOPE event quickly ensued. For more than 25 years, Colorado Academy has served those in need with a special holiday event—called HOPE—run entirely by CA students. It is the largest, single-day, student-run, CA service effort and usually takes place in early December. In past years, the event has brought more than 2,000 people to Colorado Academy’s campus, to receive clothing, food, medical services, and holiday gifts. Many in attendance have been Horizons families.
With pandemic restrictions prohibiting groups of people from assembling, It was clear that this year, like most everything, HOPE would have to pivot from a large, indoor gathering to something else; there was still the desire by the CA students involved with HOPE to help the community, and the needs of the community were even greater due to increased job loss, food insecurity, sickness, and many more impacts as a direct result of the pandemic.
Lisa Dean, Coordinator of Upper School Service Learning, who oversees the student planning of HOPE, helped guide the student leaders on how to best serve communities in need. When Senior leaders Rebecca Kerr, Evelyn Needham, and Britt Lochhead reached out to me, saying that they still wanted to help support Horizons families, I was very excited, to say the least! Our Horizons families have been especially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and any support was greatly appreciated. When I asked the HOPE club heads how this year was different from prior years, they answered:
“Due to COVID-19, we were not able to host our annual HOPE event. This event is usually the club’s main focus point, because the larger part of the CA community shows up to volunteer. This year, we refocused the resources available to us and instead organized donation drives to shelters in the Denver community, along with the gift card drive for the Horizons community.”
In total, the HOPE club was able to raise an astonishing $12,300 of direct aid to our Horizons families. This allowed us to give a $25 gift card per family member to each of our Horizons students, a huge help during these difficult times.
When I asked the club leaders what message they wanted to communicate about why they were involved with HOPE, they shared the following:
“Some of the most impactful aspects of HOPE are the interactions and rewarding work we do. Due to the challenges of this year, we knew we wanted to help out the communities we have had such positive experiences helping in the past. We knew that we could still make a difference and impact the people who so greatly deserve more resources but are struggling to get them.”
“The presidents worked really hard to raise the funds!” said Dean. “We are thrilled to continue our connection with Horizons families, especially during these challenging times.“
And from my point of view, as the Executive Director of Horizons, this type of collaboration, when everyone comes together to help our most vulnerable families in Denver, is what makes the Colorado Academy community so special and a joy to be a part of.