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Bringing Joy and Support to FFC8 Families at the Holidays

Christy McGee

In the heart of Fountain, Colorado at the holidays, many partners come together to spread holiday cheer and support to families in need. This collaboration, through programs like Turkey Giveaway and Blue Santa, bolstered by Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8, the Fountain Police Department, and various community organizations, exemplifies the power of unity and generosity in making a significant impact in the lives of children.

Blue Santa

The Fountain Police Department began Blue Santa in 2014. It was handed over to School Resource Officer Corporal Don Klinge in 2017, marking a turning point in its evolution. The connection to FFC8 was created when a district staff person envisioned a joint effort between an already existing FFC8 event (the winter holiday feasts) and Blue Santa, where the district would provide the food and the FPD would provide the toys. This approach laid the foundation for a program that has grown in both scope and impact.

Growth of the Blue Santa program is a testament to the power of collaboration. Early on, the program saw support from American Legion Post 38 in Fountain, which led to more recent partnerships with the Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 6461 in Fountain. Throughout the program, businesses have donated to the program. Most recently, those that have made the most impact are the Walmart on 85/87 and Dick’s Sporting Goods on Powers. In 2015, Blue Santa served 116 children; by 2023, that number soared to 647.

The program's success hinges on a meticulously organized process, beginning each February with Corporal Klinge's planning. Each fall, families fill out a Google form, accessible through the FPD or School Resource Officers, with priority given to specific local zip codes and students of FFC8 and WSD3. The requests vary, from bicycles to Legos, and even blankets in recent years. Blue Santa strives to fulfill all reasonable requests, averaging 3-4 toys per child.

For Corporal Klinge, Blue Santa is more than just a program; it's a personal mission. Having experienced a gift-less Christmas at the age of 10, he is driven to ensure no child in his community feels forgotten during the holidays. This commitment extends to purchasing high-quality, brand-name toys, underscoring the program's emphasis on giving not just gifts, but also a sense of value and joy. For his efforts, Corporal Klinge was awarded the News5 Jefferson Award on December 5, 2023. According to their website, KOAA5 gives out this award to celebrate unsung heroes who selflessly serve those in need.

Turkey Giveaway

In FFC8, the spirit of giving starts before the winter holidays, with the district providing turkeys and Thanksgiving food baskets to families each November. FPD School Resource Officers joined forces with the district beginning in 2019, and turned their efforts into a spirited competition among schools and SROs in 2020. The Turkey Giveaway is also supported by the community, with the American Legion Post 38 providing baskets to military-connected and/or veteran families. In 2023, the American Legion provided 75 baskets during the Turkey Giveaway and delivered another 20 after the event. This was on top of the 400 baskets that the FFC8 community raised to give out to its families.

A Call to Support and Acknowledgement

These initiatives underscore the importance of community and the impact of collective efforts in supporting families during the holidays. As Blue Santa and the Turkey Giveaway continue to grow, they remind us of the power of partnerships and the difference they can make in the lives of children.

The district extends its deepest gratitude to all the partners involved in these programs, including the Fountain Police Department, the American Legion, the Fountain VFW, Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, Saint Dominic Catholic Church, and the numerous local businesses and individuals who contribute. Their dedication and generosity are the backbone of these efforts.

The community is encouraged to get involved and support these programs in any way they can. Whether through donations, volunteering, or simply spreading the word, every contribution helps in bringing joy, support, and a sense of community to families in Fountain. Together, we can continue to make a significant difference in the lives of our neighbors and friends.