In so many ways, 2021 HOPE was different. But in every way that mattered, HOPE was exactly the same warm and generous event that Colorado Academy students started and have run for more than 25 years.
Some HOPE visitors arrived by car and others on CA buses, which had made multiple stops at designated locations around the city, their progress carefully monitored by faculty sponsor Steven Hammer. On campus, everyone found their way to the Athletic Center entrance.
“Thank you,” called HOPE faculty sponsor Lisa Dean to new arrivals. “Thank you for coming!”
Moms pushed strollers as they searched for just the right outfit on the many tables of gently used donated clothes, all organized by size.
Excited children chose backpacks, books, and toys.
There were dozens of CA student volunteers helping make all aspects of the day a success.
Nurses offered flu shots for children and adults.
Representatives from the Lions Club did vision screening for children.
Three busy HOPE Co-Presidents, Maya Kendall, Walker Briggs, and Maude Tetzeli, ran around troubleshooting after months spent preparing for this day.
“This day tells me that our hard work paid off for a good cause,” said Briggs. “We are here to provide hope and joy and we accomplished that.”
“Behind this mask, I haven’t stopped smiling,” said Tetzeli. “We have tackled so many obstacles, so to see everything work out is so rewarding.”
For the youngest visitors, there was entertainment provided by the always-popular bouncy castle and impromptu soccer games with CA students.
There were balls! So many balls of all sizes to throw and bounce and toss and chase.
What was different
Visitors couldn’t help but notice that this year’s HOPE made concessions to COVID-19. Everyone was greeted with a thermometer.
HOPE was spread out, using both the West Gym and the entire Field House, so organizers could keep groups of masked guests socially distant at the carefully organized event.
Face painting was replaced with temporary tattoos and make-your-own masks.
The traditional holiday dinner (with pie!) could not be served because of pandemic protocol, so families went home with a snack and a frozen meal of chicken, sweet potatoes, and beans.
Families still received a keepsake photo from the day. But this year, those photos were taken safely outside.
Yes, there were pandemic-related changes, but above all, there was still HOPE at CA—hope that a community would come together to demonstrate kindness, and hope that recipients of that kindness would feel welcomed and joyful.
“When the first family walked in the door today, I shed a tear,” said Kendall. “I’m just so happy we pulled it off.”