The Gazette/El Pomar Foundation Empty Stocking Fund is a campaign run during the Holidays to raise specifically over a million dollars for local nonprofits in Colorado Springs. It is a great campaign for nonprofits because it truly makes a difference in having media outreach and a group of El Pomar fellows committed to helping raise awareness and funding for nonprofits.

Here is a story about how the Empty Stocking Fund benefits human service agencies, written by The Gazette reporter Kassandra Cloos. You can go directly to the article here or read below.

Thoams Riggs used to be a “problem child”.

He did what he wanted, when he wanted – even while he was on probation. He assaulted peers at a former treatment facility, he said, and faced violation of his probation. He was 16 and faced juvenile detention if he didn’t get his act together.

“I was supposed to be looking for a job, either that or going to school and I wasn’t doing either,” he said. “I was just sitting around, failing classes. Not really doing anything.”

Then someone at the Griffith Centers, where he was living, showed that she cared. She encouraged him to take stock of his situation, and gave him one final chance. Riggs, now 23, took it to heart and turned his life around.

“In the end, the willingness to work with me helped me change myself,” he said. “Just getting that second chance really showed that as long as someone cares, you can change.”

Riggs was a ward of the state and lived in the Griffith Centers’ residential facility for five years before he transitioned into independent living at the age of 18. The Griffith Centers also provide children with foster homes, recruit and train qualified foster parents and keep them eligible, and offer family preservation programs, among other services.

Riggs lives in Denver now, but he keeps in touch with some of the people at the Griffith Centers in Colorado Springs. While he lived there, they showed him compassion by just listening to him, he said, no matter what it was he needed to talk about.

“It’s full of people who care,” he said. “They just want the best (for you).”