By Libby Smith

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – As coronavirus pushes more people into unemployment the need for food is greater than ever, that’s why Xcel Energy was determined to work out a way to make Day of Service work during the pandemic.

“The demand was huge. We had more schools calling us and asking us for the meal packs, the white meal pack boxes. And we had more food banks asking us for meals,” said Ken Bradley, Founder & President of Colorado Feeding Kids. “The demand went sky high, and then the challenge we had, we couldn’t have as many volunteers in the same space. “

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Colorado Feeding Kids relies 100% on volunteers to pack the meals. They have no paid staff. So an event like Day of Service is vital to their existence. And, Xcel Energy was dedicated to making whatever changes were necessary to make this Day of Service project happen.

“We’re doing a lot of social distancing today, and wearing out masks the entire time, so we’re doing everything we can to stay safe,” said Laura Roberts, the co-leader of the project, and Director of Gas Contracting for Xcel Energy.

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Roberts has headed up the Colorado Feeding Kids project for the last five years. This year is a far cry from the 600 volunteers packed in a gymnasium for several hours on a Saturday morning. This year, groups of 25 volunteers are working per shift, and there are 8-shifts. CBS4’s Ashton Altieri was among the volunteers at the Friday afternoon session.

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“I love this project because it makes such a big impact,” Roberts told CBS4.

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The meals that are packed go to schools to be distributed to students who have nothing to eat over the weekend, and to food banks for families who are finding themselves with nothing in the pantry. It’s meeting a need that’s immediate and pervasive.

“It’s scary to think how many people are impacted by COVID, and the inability to work. And today, here, we can make a direct impact to our community by packing meals and making sure those kids aren’t feeling those hunger pains,” said Roberts.

LINK: Download a Day of Service Bingo Card

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The in-person projects are only open to Xcel and CBS4 employees. But Xcel Energy wanted to make sure that every Coloradan could make a difference during Day of Service. They developed a Day of Service bingo card with 24 suggestions of easy, fun acts of kindness that can be done from your home or in your neighborhood.

Libby Smith