By Libby Smith
DENVER (CBS4) – Xcel Energy is celebrating its sixth year of Day of Service. It’s a day of service within the community in which the energy company sets up dozens of volunteer opportunities and calls on employees and the general public to give back to their community.
The actual Day of Service is Sept. 10, 2016, but the website to sign-up for a project is online now. This year there will be 69 projects with about 3800 volunteer slots available.
“Extremely proud because this is a symbol of who we are and when I say, ‘Who we are,’ I mean who our employees are,” Davis explained.
Day of Service started as an employee-only event, before Xcel decided to open it up to the general public. It was designed to show Xcel’s commitment to the Colorado community.
“We’re in 165 communities here in Colorado. What we thought about was, ‘Let’s work with some nonprofits, let’s bring together volunteers, family, employees, kids, businesses, our customers and let’s come together and figure out how we can improve Colorado,'” Davis told CBS4.
Xcel Energy does all the legwork, which entails recruiting a wide variety of nonprofit organizations and working with them on the logistics of hosting volunteers and the projects that will get done. While Xcel does make a financial donation to each of the organizations, it’s the gift of time and energy that most of the nonprofits treasure.
“We’re all busy, we all have families, we work, we have activities we have to do, but they really believe in not only this company but the state that we live in here,” Davis said of the Xcel employees who volunteer for Day of Service.
The day also gives volunteers the opportunity to find out about new nonprofits that maybe hadn’t had the opportunity to contact before. In some cases, it could lead to more long term connections.
“They find out a little bit about what’s going on here and the next thing you know they’re volunteering more often, they’re on a committee, maybe they’re on the board, maybe they’re giving a little more to that specific nonprofit just from that three-hour event where they volunteered to meet a group they’ve never been involved with,” Davis said.
Davis recounted his own experience working at the Anchor Center for the Blind in 2014. He and his children did some lawn maintenance and helped to paint a fence on the property. He said he feels Day of Service is a good event for children to attend.
(credit: Xcel Energy)
“So this is good for the kids because what they begin to learn early is ‘What is the meaning of service?’ So I’ve always brought my kids to understand that and to understand how to give back,” Davis explained.
Jerome Davis, of Xcel Energy with a family member during Day of Service (credit: Xcel Energy)
The whole event runs just three hours — from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the second Saturday in September. And for a small amount of time, Davis feels that you get a great deal of benefit.
“That whole value that you get from giving back and being able to look at what you did as opposed to giving dollars. You can actually physically see what impact you had on both the project and the impact you’re having on the state,” Davis said.
There are 69 projects to choose from. Some welcome children and some don’t. Some are outdoors and may include some hard work. Others are indoors and may be a bit easier on the body. One of the bigger projects is Colorado Feeding Kids, which includes 500 volunteers packing meals for hungry children. The project is located in Thornton and was a big hit last year.
“All I know is before it ended, it was a quick three hours, and we had boxed enough to feed over 155,000 families with meals,” Davis said.
There are big projects like Colorado Feeding Kids, but there are also smaller projects at Goodwill, The Butterfly Pavilion, Family Tree in Englewood, Bluff Lake Nature Center and dozens more. Projects are set up in communities across the state so this can be a truly state-wide community event.
“We’ve got another big project in Aurora, where we’re going to be making fleece blankets. This is for low-income kids and also disabled veterans that we’re providing that to,” Davis told CBS4.
Xcel Energy has done all the setup for these volunteer opportunities, and there is a website where you can choose your project and sign up. Some of the smaller projects fill up quick, so the sooner you sign up the better.
“This is just a great opportunity, if you care about the community that you live in. If you care about this great state that we live in, we need your time,” Davis said.
Libby Smith is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. If you have a story you’d like to tell CBS4 about, call 303-863-TIPS (8477) or visit the News Tips section.