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November 20, 2012
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The spirit of giving in Grand Junction

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - For nonprofits providing needs-based services, the holiday season marks an increased commitment to both fundraising and volunteer efforts across the board. "The holidays can be both wonderful and difficult on some people," Mesa County RSVP Executive Director Jean Brewer said. "Many do not all have the same resources to provide housing, food and gifts for themselves and their loved ones. Some people have to rely on the generosity of others in order to have what they need."According to Brewer, local nonprofit organizations help provide "both person-to-person and monetary help." She, in fact, runs one of those groups; Mesa County RSVP, which stands for "Recruiting Seniors for Volunteer Positions," currently has 550 volunteers and it works with 90 local organizations - from volunteer positions with the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau to helping kids with school work, and anything in between."These organizations need both your volunteer time and your financial generosity in order to be able to continue providing for those of us who are less fortunate," Brewer added. "Thanks for what all of our volunteers and donors do to help us help others in our community." There are currently plenty of local groups still needing both volunteers and funds before 2013. Plus, giving back can be as simple as writing a check, giving a gift, or dropping off a toy.Here's a few ideas:

• Salvation Army, www.gjsalvationarmy.orgGrand Junction's branch of the Salvation Army needs lots of help this Christmas.According to volunteer coordinator Sibyl Marsh, she still needs up to 50 helpers this holiday season to do a variety of tasks - from sorting toys and sitting at the angel tree, to sorting canned food items and packing food boxes. "We need help most days," Marsh said. "Our volunteers are very important. We couldn't get all the work we need to get done without their help."Salvation Army Captain Dan Wilson noted up to 1,800 lower income people in Mesa County who need help this year with boxes and turkeys. He expects 2,200 food boxes to be produced this year, not even including what the Salvation Army does during the rest of the year."We had over 100,000 pounds of food come in last year during the holidays, and it had to be sorted," Wilson said.Toys at the Salvation Army are a big need, too, this year. "Last year, we had 3,300 to 3,400 children come for toys," Wilson said. "We usually need stocking stuffers and regular-sized toys. People also donate clothes. All these things must get sorted into boxes according to what was asked for."The Salvation Army's massive volunteer effort includes collecting monetary donations, along with bell-ringing throughout Christmas, Wilson noted. "We didn't reach our goal of $200,000 last year," he said. "About $180,000 was collected last year. It was about the same as the year before. We're shooting for $200,000 again this year. We want to raise enough, so we don't fall short this year."Volunteer applications are being accepted for the holiday season now. Call Sybil Marsh at 970-242-7513 for more information.• Toys for Tots, www.toysfortots.orgGrand Junction's Toys for Tots local toy drive is already underway. Organizer Penny Miller said lots of toys are still needed, especially for kids aged 6-10.Age groups needed for gifts include 0-2, 3-5, 6-7, 8-10, and 11 and over."Bicycles would be really nice," Miller added.While stuffed animals are good gifts, Toys for Tots has more than enough already, Miller noted. Creative toy ideas, not just standard options, are still needed."Games for older kids would be fun," she said. Drop-off sites and volunteers are definitely needed, too."We have seven to 10 requests coming in per day" for toys, Miller said. For more information, visit and search for Mesa County. Drop-off locations in Mesa County and volunteer opportunities are listed. For additional information, call Penny Miller at 970-200-8971.• Partners Wrap Up for Charity, www.mesapartners.orgHate gift wrapping? Partners Wrap up for Charity is a great way to give back locally while getting your gifts boxed up. Put on by Mesa County Partners - a local organization focused on mentorships for at-risk children in Mesa County - the Wrap Up for Charity gift station will be available at the Mesa Mall starting Dec. 1 through Christmas. It will be staffed during regular mall hours, and its location will be announced closer to the start date. All funds collected go to Partners programming."We need at least 50 volunteers, depending on shifts," volunteer coordinator Alyssa Austin said. "We're hoping to do well and make this a successful year."Want to give back but not good at gift wrapping? Austin noted that Partners mentors are absolutely needed any time of year."We have 80-90 kids on waiting list for mentorships," she added.For more information, call Alyssa Austin at 970-245-5555, ext. 19.

• Hope of the Grand Valley (• Homeward Bound homeless shelter• Catholic Outreach• Your local hospital & place of worshipFor more local volunteering or donation ideas, continue to read the Grand Junction Free Press. A variety of fundraising events will be listed through the 2012-13 holiday season.

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The Post Independent Updated Nov 26, 2012 01:50PM Published Nov 20, 2012 02:56PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.