By Libby Smith

DENVER (CBS4) – Xcel Energy set up 60 projects with nonprofit organizations across Colorado, and volunteers got the work done. Day of Service is in its 11th year, and the utility started the tradition as a way to honor the first responders who were so brave in the face of the 9/11 attack.

“It’s very special for us to be here today doing it in person and also some virtually and making  an impact in honor of the 20 year anniversary,” said Hollie Velasquez Horvath, Senior Director of Community Relations and State Affairs, for Xcel Energy.

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About 100 volunteers activated Civic Center Park with 3 Day of Service projects. Some volunteers were making ribbons for veterans to wear, some were pulling weeds in the garden beds outside the City & County Building.

“We’re kind of volunteering to help homeless veterans,” said Chase Horvath, a 12-year-old volunteer.

Chase and his sister, Lillian, were packing hygiene kits, including hand sanitizer, masks, Band-Aids, soap and other personal products, all packed into a small baggie that a veteran experiencing homelessness can keep track of.

“I feel like it would be really hard for homeless people who are veterans to feel happy and healthy. And I feel like it’s really important to make sure that they are cared for, and they know they did a great thing,” Lillian explained.

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The hygiene packs come complete with a little personal note from the  person who packed them.

“I’m saying like, ‘Thanks you for helping out country,’” Chase said of his notes for the packs.

The children’s mother is Hollie Velasquez Horvath, and she feels that these few hours have a lasts impact for her kids.

“This allows me on a Saturday morning to get them up and have them come with me, and understand that making impact in the community matters,” Velasquez Horvath told CBS4.

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The projects at Civic Center Park were socially distanced, and many of the volunteers wore masks regardless of their vaccination status. Safety was a top priority, as they  came together once again for the community.

“It feels so good. I can’t even tell you how impactful it is to be around a group of our customers, and our friends, and family, and employees, and we’re all together. And we’re sharing in an experience physically, instead of virtually. And there’s a lot to be said about being together,” Velasquez Horvath said.

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Day of Service projects happened all over the state, and many CBS4 employees took part. There were also take-home projects that allowed volunteers to impact the community from their own homes. Xcel Energy also is offering the Good Energy Pledge, which allows anyone who takes it to do volunteer goals within their own neighborhoods.

LINK: Take Xcel Energy’s Good Energy Pledge

“It makes me feel grateful and happy because it makes me feel like I can be helpful and stuff,” Chase said.

That is what Xcel Energy’s Day of Service is all about – empowering people to be helpful.

Libby Smith