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33rd iteration of Empty Stocking Fund kicks off Thursday to benefit Colorado Springs-area nonprofits

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When a woman flees home and her abusive husband, TESSA offers a safe house.

To the working poor, Tri-Lakes Cares provides money for rent, clothing and medical care. And when families need aid raising children with developmental disabilities, The Resource Exchange steps in.

Now, those nonprofits need a helping hand.

The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking Fund kicks off its 33rd campaign Thursday - aiming to help 20 nonprofits covering nearly all angles of the safety net for impoverished and disadvantaged people in the Pikes Peak region.

"They're that network of support which this community needs," said Bill Hybl, the El Pomar Foundation's chairman and chief executive.

The campaign has raised $17 million since its humble inception in 1984. Organizers want to keep that momentum going by raising at least $1 million this year.

It's a goal the campaign has reached nine years in a row. Last season, about 2,300 corporate and individual donors contributed about $1.14 million over about seven weeks. This year's campaign runs through Jan. 20.

Every penny will go to those nonprofits, because administrative costs are covered by Wells Fargo, ADD STAFF, the El Pomar Foundation, The Anschutz Foundation and The Gazette.

"This is truly a community effort," said Dan Steever, The Gazette's publisher. "This is really an effort of collaboration and love that really works."

The campaign began as a meager attempt at offering Colorado Springs' neediest families a helping hand during the holiday season - yes with toys, but also with basic necessities that many people take for granted.

Some people donated Cabbage Patch dolls (no small feat, considering how fast they moved off store shelves back then). But there also were more valuable donations: Food, medicine and money for rent and utility bills. All told, the campaign that year raised $45,716 in cash donations, along with almost $7,000 in food, clothing, furniture and toys, archives show.

The giving only grew from there.

The El Pomar Foundation became a partner in 1997, helping elevate the campaign into the premier event that now attracts thousands of donors each year. It will match $1 for every $3 donated to the Empty Stocking Fund, up to $200,000.

Read the full article here