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Serve 6.8: Building community 1 act of kindness at a time

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Collegian | Courtesy
Photo courtesy of Serve 6.8 Volunteer Development Disaster & Project Director

Within Loveland, Colorado, a powerful force of support and hope thrives. Serve 6.8 stands as a cornerstone, offering crucial aid to underprivileged families. Through collaborative efforts with local churches, this organization has built essential resource centers that go beyond mere assistance. 

Central to Serve 6.8’s mission is their initiative Adopt-A-Family, through which donations of toys, food and more are welcomed. The heart of this initiative lies within the Serve 6.8 Toy Room, stocked with toys and gifts catering to children 0-18 years old. Volunteers worked tirelessly to ensure 3,200 families wake up to the joy of Christmas morning with gifts in hand.

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The organization thrives on volunteer support, with only eight staff members amid a cohort of volunteers who contributed over 30,000 hours in 2022 — a testament to Serve 6.8’s volunteer culture. Each child receives three gifts, which are hand-picked from donations by volunteers. This offers a more personalized experience for the volunteers, as they directly select gifts that will bring kids joy.

More than just material donations, Serve 6.8 fosters relationships beyond religious boundaries. Disaster & Project Director Ashlee Schmitt, a volunteer of six years, oversees volunteer engagement and leadership development, ensuring the operation of events like the Toy Room.

“Every family that we serve gets invited to a local church, and they throw them a huge party, and it’s an opportunity for them to build relationships with other people and have families invest in them in a different way,” Schmitt said. “So yes, they get gifts, and that’s super special and exciting, but they also have the opportunity to have relationships, and I think (that’s) really special.”

The Adopt-A-Family program extends its reach to both Thanksgiving and Christmas, with this past Thanksgiving alone serving 2,400 families.

Nancy Mann, the special projects coordinator and a third-year volunteer, highlighted the organization’s diverse engagement avenues, from hands-on volunteering to virtual contributions.

“There’s a place for everyone here,” Mann said, echoing Serve 6.8’s inclusive ethos.

Serve 6.8 extends its mission beyond regular assistance, actively engaging in disaster relief efforts as well. Mann played a pivotal role in coordinating volunteers to assemble 25,000 sandbags, a crucial effort aimed at mitigating potential flooding following the destructive Cameron Peak Fire. 

Her work stands as a testament to Serve 6.8’s commitment not only to immediate aid but also to proactive measures in the face of adversity, safeguarding the community during challenging times.

Cindy Dickson, a sixth-year volunteer and Toy Room leader, stressed the year-round necessity of assistance.

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“It’s more than just Christmas; families require support throughout the year,” Dickson explained, focusing on the consistent aid provided through resource centers across Northern Colorado.

These centers go beyond immediate aid, providing essentials like food and clothing while guiding families toward sustainability.

Colorado State University students are urged to join this impactful journey; Serve 6.8 calls all willing to volunteer, fostering unity and extending a helping hand to those in need. 

“I believe people will give if they have an avenue to give to,” Dickson said, emphasizing the community’s collective power in making a difference.

Reach Kloe Brill at life@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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