DENVER — Throughout the month of December, Denver7 has been profiling and thanking various groups of people making an impact on our community. Once a week, Denver7 anchor Jason Gruenauer surprised groups of volunteers or workers with breakfast or lunch, courtesy of Safeway, along with the opening of a Denver7 Gives fund to help aid their mission. As the month comes to a close, here’s a look back at those stories.
Thank you, teachers
The month of thanks began at Arrowhead Elementary School in Aurora. The principal called a last minute staff meeting for teachers to gather in the library. That’s when anchor Jason Gruenauer surprised them with lunch and a ‘thank you’ for their hard work approaching the holidays.
“(Thank yous) are something that you just keep forever in your heart. I love that,” teacher Shelia Phillips, who has been teaching in the district for 50 years, said about what thanks means to her.
“There are many sleepless nights, there are many tears that I cry over these children that I come to love and worry about. And when somebody acknowledges the hard work that I do, it just it means so much,” teacher Senika O’Connor added.
As part of the recognition and thank you to the staff, Denver7 opened up a Denver7 Gives Fund to raise money for teachers. All money raised will be earmarked specifically for educator initiative grants, with funds given to teachers to purchase items for their classroom.
A ‘Table’ full of heroes
The following week, Denver7 headed to Arvada, where hundreds of volunteers help staff the Community Table food bank.
“I think our record was 127 in one day. That's 127 families. So it's a lot of people and a lot of food,” volunteer Marilyn Lambert said.
Three former Denver7 Everyday Heroes continues their volunteer work here. Lambert works the computers at the front desk, John Beattie is a longtime truck driver, and Andy Fitzpatrick does a little bit of everything. Denver7 thanked those heroes and all of the ’Table’ volunteers with a surprise breakfast and a Denver7 Gives Fund to raise money for the nonprofit’s work.
“We can appreciate them as much as we can, but seeing other people come and appreciate them, that means a lot,” Community Table COO Rocky Baldassare said.
Appreciating workers in a place that doesn’t take holidays off
Swedish Medical Center’s Emergency Department is the busiest in the entire HealthONE system. Here, and at hospitals everywhere, frontline healthcare workers don’t always get to take holidays off.
“People are gonna get sick, whether it's Christmas Day or any day of the week. People need medical attention,” registered nurse Brian Sparrow added.
That means front line workers need to be at work to respond.
“You miss holidays, you miss breakfasts, you miss dinners, you miss time, you know, spending time with your family,” Swedish RN Clarisza Runtung said.
So Denver7 brought the nurses and staff at the ER a breakfast of coffee and donuts, along with a word of thanks.
“It reminds us of why we're here and why we do what we do,” Runtung added.
Denver7 also asked the nursing team for a nonprofit they support. They chose the Miracle League of Metro Denver, an organization that gives kids and adults with mental or physical challenges an opportunity to play baseball. A Denver7 Gives Fund was opened to raise money for the league, who is looking to make improvements at its field.
More than just saying ‘thank you’
To wrap up the month, Denver7 went to the Community Outreach Service Center in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood, during a meal service for the community.
“We’re just a little portion that do our part and we're just trying to help break down the needs of the people,” LaShawn Marshall, who works at the Center, told Denver7.
The Center works with community members at various levels of need. That includes their weekly Wednesday meal, food and clothing distribution, and more.
Denver7 anchor Jason Gruenauer thanked volunteers with a surprise lunch, then jumped in to help serve the weekly meal to the community. A Denver7 Gives Fund was also opened to raise money to support the Center’s mission as well.
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