April 18, 2014

For the Holiday Season, Share the Gift of Giving

For attorneys and legal professionals who reach out to some of the most disadvantaged in Colorado, the holidays are a time to give—and to get back even more. Those who give to others are happier than those who buy something for themselves, according to several studies cited in a 2010 article in Psychology Today. The amount of the gift didn’t seem to matter; it was the merely the act of giving that promoted happiness in people.

There are hundreds of attorneys, firms, and organizations that contribute and donate time throughout the year. Here are just some of their stories.

Mary Waters, an office administrator with Hogan Lovells in Denver says, “We adopt at least two families through the organization, Family Tree, and we collect contributions from the staff and attorneys. Many attorneys and staff choose to shop with their families and purchase some of the gifts. They always spend time with the families and they probably get as much joy doing this as the receiving families.”

The Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center puts on a Holiday Gift Drive and knows that the holidays can be especially hard for children in the child protection system. “They are separated from family and living in group homes or with foster families,” said Executive Director Stephanie Villafuerte. “They don’t write letters to Santa or dream of piles of gifts. They just hope someone will remember them. These children are just trying to survive and deal with very adult decisions; our gift drive is just one thing we do to help provide them a sense of childhood.”

Joni Edwards, office administrator with Husch Blackwell, helps organize the firm’s Adopt-A-Family project with Family HomeStead through Florence Crittenton Services, an organization that empowers struggling teen families to be productive members of the community. Liz Martinez, of Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell, recently was sworn in as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and is leading a holiday gift drive through the Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell Foundation for abused and neglected children served by CASA. “Sadly, when you look at the lists the kids put together, there are many items that we take for granted, like socks and other basics,” Martinez said. The WTO Foundation contributes funds to buy gifts and invites current employees, family members, and friends of the firm to participate, widening the giving circle.

Holland and Hart works on many community projects during the year. During the holiday season, they put together a few projects for the Lennox Guest Home, including a “Pie Party” and a craft fair, with staff manning tables. Funds are raised for a dinner and gift baskets for residents of the Lennox Guest Home. Staff also can pick names from a giving tree and buy clothes or toys for those served by the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center and Jewish Family Service.

Jodi Kopke, director of marketing with Kutak Rock, says, “Our firm participates in the Adopt-A-Family program during the holiday season. What started out as helping one family in 2000 has grown to helping four families in 2011. Some of the families we’ve been asked to help over the years include parents with a preemie 3-month-old boy and a 17-year-old helping her grandmother raise her siblings.” At the firm, not only can you donate items, but you also can be a “Shopping Elf” and buy presents, you can help assemble and wrap presents, and you can help Santa deliver presents to a family or individual.

If you’re interested in donating:
If you’d like to donate to the Rocket Mountain Children’s Law Center Holiday Gift Drive, but can’t make it to the center, Law Week Colorado staff will pick up donations at firms through the first week of December. Call (303) 292-1212 for more information.

The Colorado Bar Association adopts a family each year for the holiday season. For more information, please contact Heather Clark at hclark@cobar.org.

“In addition to participating in the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center Holiday Gift Drive, our firm started a campaign this year to buy 1,000 meals at the Denver Rescue Mission, and is also giving a large holiday donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society,” says Heather Baker, of Otten Johnson Robinson Neff + Ragonetti.

For 2011, the Harris Law Firm is taking part in the Adoption Exchange’s Holiday Hope Project, a stocking-stuffer program for teens in foster care. The firm has donated to the Denver Rescue Mission every Thanksgiving for the past seven years. This year, the firm collected enough donations from attorneys and staff to feed more than 300 homeless men, women, and children on Thanksgiving Day.

The act of giving doesn’t have to be monetary; it can simply be donating your time, helping out a friend or family member, or simply thanking those in your life who help you throughout the year. The legal world can be stressful and make incredible demands, but the generosity of the people in the Colorado legal community demonstrates that we believe in the philosophy of giving and service. By helping others, you will probably get something in return. It was expressed succinctly by Mahatma Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Mary Dilworth is the Marketing Manager for CBA-CLE.

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