By Robin Gribbon
For 44 years here in Boulder County, an ardent group of volunteers has done everything possible to ensure Santa overlooks no child’s chimney come Christmastime.
Their good work continues this year. With an army of volunteers, Share-A-Gift will gather and distribute a bounty of donated bikes, toys, books, and clothing, helping 600 underprivileged local families give presents to their kids.
“It’s said that most children don’t know they’re poor until the holidays roll around,” says JoAnn Joselyn, Share-A-Gift board member and volunteer coordinator. “This can put an awful lot of stress on a family. We think the magic we’re working takes a lot of that stress away. We certainly hope it makes things easier for breadwinners and more fun for the kids.”
The magic that fuels Share-A-Gift every year is in fact a community groundswell, where players large and small take part. Some of Boulder’s most talented people and companies jump in to the 100% volunteer effort, holding toy drives, sorting through thousands of donations, even keeping the books.
“We think a full 1% of the Boulder community pitches in every year,” says Todd Gullette, this year’s board president and REALTOR® at RE/MAX of Boulder. “That’s incredible. It’s regular folks, professionals, the city of Boulder police department, schools, clubs and organizations. It’s just that kind of effort. People want to be involved.”
RE/MAX of Boulder is a vital supporter of Share-A-Gift with Mr. Gullette at the helm of the organization and with REALTORS® such as Patrick Dolan and his team, who donate a bounty of gifts through their client holiday party, and Lisa Wade, who is organizing the pick-up and drop-off of toys and gifts for 45 schools in Boulder and Gunbarrel. It is this tremendous commitment to the community that is at the heart of RE/MAX of Boulder.
Share-A-Gift Board President and RE/MAX of Boulder REALTOR® Todd Gullette (right) with Share-A-Gift volunteer Lisa Wade (middle) and Share-A-Gift donor Patrick Dolan (left), both RE/MAX of Boulder REALTORS®
Lisa Wade, former board member for Share-A-Gift for 17 years and RE/MAX of Boulder REALTOR®, explains, “Share-A-Gift is unique in that the parents choose the gifts for their children. After all, they know best what would be appropriate and it allows them the dignity of gift-giving as opposed to some very generous organizations who choose and wrap the gifts for kids.”
Mr. Gullette, a Spanish speaker, was inspired to join Share-A-Gift’s board after one particularly moving experience. He was helping families choose gifts when he saw a mother and her 15-year-old son waiting in line.
“Families aren’t supposed to bring their kids when they pick out presents, but this child was serving as the family’s breadwinner and father figure to his younger siblings,” Mr. Gullette explains. “His time of being a kid was long past.”
The three began choosing presents for the family’s younger children when Mr. Gullette remembered that an X-Box game system had been donated earlier that day.
“When I saw this teenager, I knew it would be perfect,” he says. “His mom just burst into tears. He was happy but confused – was this really for him? It was an incredible moment.”
Experiences like this one and others at Share-A-Gift run counter to Boulder County’s general reputation for boundless wealth.
“Boulder County has a very typical breakdown of people from every economic point on the spectrum, and that means we have a lot of people who can use a little extra help,” explains Mr. Gullette
“I’ve volunteered for lots of organizations, but most of the time you’re helping people who help people,” he adds. “At Share-A-Gift you actually see the impact of the overall effort.”
Ms. Joselyn agrees.
“It’s absolutely a labor of love,” she says. “You just get sucked in with the sheer joy of it.”
This year Share-A-Gift is the official distributor of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots drive, ensuring that goods donated in Boulder County will be given to children here.
“It’s the great support of this community that makes it all possible,” Ms. Joselyn adds. “We call it the miracle of Christmas.”
To donate to Share-A-Gift visit www.shareagift.org
To learn more about RE/MAX of Boulder visit www.boulderco.com