Union Station shines bright for the Grand Illumination

In the time of year where family traditions and activities are central- you might be on the hunt for quality family fun. Denver offers many answers. Since the costs of fun and holidays can add up quickly, we offer five solutions that are friendly on your wallet. 

These tips are for everyone looking to enjoy family time together in Denver, and do it at low cost. It is possible to do both!

1. Start at the Giving Machines in Writer Square. On this day of fun and -mostly free activities- start off by thinking of those in need. After all, when was the last time your $3 at a vending machine bought meals for those at a shelter? Or you gave chickens for Christmas? With 5 local and 1 global charity benefitting from the machines, don’t miss Denver’s first year as host to the Light the World Giving Machines! Visit GivingMachinesDenver.com for more information.

A family makes their selection at the Giving Machines

2. Visit Santa Claus at Larimer Square. After you’ve been the giver of gifts, visit one of the most famous gift givers – Santa Claus! Here’s a chance to visit St. Nick, and enjoy the surroundings in Larimer Square while you’re at it! Photos are free – please just bring your own camera. Santa visits every Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Click for more info. 

Children share their Christmas wishes with Santa on the Square

3. Travel “abroad” with a visit to the Christkindl Market. For a taste of the variety of ways holidays are celebrated, enjoy the Christkindl Market. Entry is free, and just a stroll through the many shops provides an eyeful of wonder and delight. Handmade gifts represent makers from many countries. Take your visit to the next level with an authentic German pretzel. Yum! Check further details at their website.

A scene from last year’s Christkindl Market. Photo courtesy: Denver Christkindl.

4. Go Ice skating at Skyline Park. Perhaps you’re ready to add some speed to your holiday tour. If you own your own ice skates, this activity is totally free. For those needing to rent – skate rentals are $7 for kids and $9 for adults. Hot tip for 4th graders : Free skating and rentals are provided to ALL Colorado 4th graders ALL Season long! See their website for more hours and information. 

Downtown Denver Ice Rink (Photo by Jack Dempsey)

5. Make a visit to the Mile High Tree. Wrap up your day with the sounds of the symphony, and the wonder of the Mile High tree. All events here are free! See a Christmas tree unparalleled by anything you’ve seen before. This 110 foot tall, immersive art installation can host up to 140 guests at a time, for a viewing experience from within the tree itself! Enjoy two different shows, rotating every 15 minutes. Open from 5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Click for more info.

The view from inside the Mile High Tree

The Denver North Stake held its eighth annual Helping Hands Food Drive in November. Six food banks were benefited by the generous donations of stake members and the Bishop’s Storehouse of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The successful drive was a coordinated effort between the public affairs committee, stake leaders, members, and missionaries. Church members and friends collected food in their neighborhoods and delivered it to the stake center where it was sorted and boxed. A large truck then distributed the donations to local food banks, including: The Stewardship Center Food Bank Immaculate Heart of Mary, Northglenn Christian Church’s Food Bank, Thornton Community Food Bank, Amazing Grace Church and Food Bank, Senior Hub of Adams County, and Food for Hope.

At times, some organizations have bare shelves when the Helping Hands arrive. “It is very inspiring to fill shelves and prepare the organizations for the holidays.” said Sister Keith, Public Affairs Director, Denver North Stake.

City council and state representatives, including Representative Kyle Mullica, attended the event and were impressed by the good work of the Denver North Stake and members in their community. The Helping Hands Food Drive has been a tremendous blessing to their neighbors in need. In the last two years alone, members have donated more than 2.5 tons of food.

We’re two days away from the Grand Opening of the Giving Machines! We know it’s a big honor – and super exciting – to have the Giving Machines in Denver.  After all, only 10 cities in the WORLD get the chance. 

Duane Smith and Jermaine Carroll help get the machines to their temporary landing spot while they await the official install and unveiling.

But what can we do to help maximize the Giving Machines’ impact?

Here’s a list of 6 easy ways to help Light the World through the Giving Machines.

1  – Take the personal challenge to go onto your favorite social media outlet and follow the Giving Machines page (@GivingMachinesDenver for FaceBook and Instagram. @denvergiving for Twitter). Send an invite to all your local friends to do the same. Those who have hosted Giving Machines before assure us that social media is the Number ONE way to spread the word. 

Instagram posts make an impact!

Once the machines open – VISIT, TAKE a picture, and SHARE! Tag us @givingmachinesdenver on any social media channel. 

2 – Share this 60-second video that fully embraces the Giving Machines impact. It’s the newest, BEST video for showing friends and neighbors what the machines are all about. Watch it – send it! Let your friends and neighbors know through this super simple minute that an unforgettable giving opportunity is here in DENVER!

3 – Perhaps we should change the name of pass-along cards to come-along cards. These cards print so easily from your home computer and capture everything at a glance. Pass them along – attach them to neighbor gifts, teacher gifts, etc. You could include them in your Christmas cards!

Better yet invite your friends to visit the Giving Machines with you

4 – Download and print the FHE lesson written specifically for the Giving Machines. You’ll find activities tailored to helping your family get to know what they can give to others, and recognize the many temporal ways they’ve been blessed at home. Put it on your calendar – and do the lesson with your family.

5 – Visit and use the website! givingmachinesdenver.com 

We’ve put a ton up there. The website includes a downloadable, printable PDF menu, specifics about parking locations & cost, details about the charities, upcoming events (like when the Broncos cheerleaders will be there), social media graphics for sharing, and more!!

6 – Read and be familiar with the FAQ’s. As the Giving Machines come up in conversation – and they often will! – you’ll be prepared to spread the word while answering questions at the same time. 

These are just a few ideas. What ideas do you have? 

You have probably heard by now that this year Denver will be a host city for the much sought after “Giving Machines.”

Some of the items available in a Giving Machine in 2018

What follows is a summary of the core information about the Giving Machines in Denver this year.

Where Are The Machines Located?

3 Machines will be installed in a single location in Downtown Denver. They will be hosted at Writer Square on the 16th St Mall. The address is 1504 Larimer Street. Click here for more information about the location, parking, and public transportation.

When Can I Visit The Machines?

The machines will be officially opened at 11 am on Nov 26th and will then be available daily from 9 am to 11 pm through January 1st.

How Do The Machines Work?

The machines are set up just like a vending machine. Foam cards are in the vending machine racks that represent the individual items available to donate.

When you make a donation at the machine one of the cards representing the item(s) you donated will fall down into a collection area.

The actual donations are counted electronically and the individual charities receive the donation checks from The Church of Jesus Christ after the new year.

What Can I Donate At The Machines?

At the machines, six different charities are represented and each has five items available that you can donate. The six charities include 4 local organizations and two global ones.


  • Black Child Development Institute
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver
  • Rose Andom Center
  • Mile High Ministries
  • Water for People
  • CWS Global

Click here to learn more about each organization.

Items available for donation range in cost from $3 to $300 and any single transaction is limited to $1500.

Click here to see the full detailed list of every item available for donation.

How Much Of My Donation Will The Charity Receive?

100% of your donation will go toward the thing you donated. For an example of you donate a pig, which is a $100 donation here is what happens with those funds:

You pay $100. Credit card merchants charge a transaction fee that varies between 2 and 5% so for example if the fee were 5% then $95 would be received into the LDS Charities fund.

The church covers that transaction fee and provides $100 to the designated charity.

If that charity has administrative fees or costs necessary in order to get the piglet to the end consumer those will also be covered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints up to 10% (and the charities do not have administrative costs in excess of 10%). So the Church would cut a check to the charity for $110 and $100 of that $110 will purchase piglets.

The long story short is that your exact dollar donation amount will go toward the thing you donated.

What Forms Of Payment Are Accepted?

All major credit cards are accepted. You cannot donate using cash or check.

Can I Donate Without Visiting The Machines?

Each of the charities represented accepts donations directly. If you are unable to visit the machines in person we encourage you to contact one or more of these charities directly to make a donation.

There is no way to donate via the machines without visiting the machines

How Can I Prepare For My Visit To The Machines?

If possible visit the machines during the day. During evening hours and weekends, lines are expected and wait times will be longer.

Visit this website and plan out your donation in detail to limit how long it will take you to make your actual donation at the machines. Given the anticipated wait lines, making your donation plans in advance will help limit how long others will have to wait in line.

Plan to snap a few pictures and share your experience with your friends and networks on social media and via other electronic communication!

How Can I Volunteer And Help With The Machines?

Volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have already been assigned to man the machines and help visitors make their donations.

If you are interested in bringing a large group, providing music for those visiting the machines, handing out materials, or otherwise contributing to the effort please contact your Stake’s Public Affairs Director or fill out the contact form at the bottom of this webpage.

The biggest and most significant way to support the Giving Machines effort is to invite a friend or neighbor to visit the machines with you and make a donation. Then share your experience with others.

Lastly, remember the giving machines are a small part of the larger #LightTheWorld campaign of the Church, encouraging all people worldwide to server others the way Jesus Christ did.

Visit lighttheworld.org and learn more about how you can spread the light of Christ this holiday season!

A Christmas Creche featuring nativities from around the world will be held Dec. 6 and Dec. 7 in Colorado Springs. The exhibit will also include musical performances and a live nativity.

The event will take place at

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 8710 Lexington Drive, Colorado Springs.

Friday — Decmeber 6, 2019: 2:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Saturday — December 7, 2019: 1:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Live Outdoor Nativity: 15-minute presentation with live actors and animals starting promptly at 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. both nights.

Admission is free and open to the public. Canned food donations accepted but not required.

For more information visit: http://coloradospringscreche.net/

The Jeffco Interfaith Coalition is having its annual pumpkin patch fundraiser to benefit Habitat for Humanity. The group of interfaith partners from Arvada, Wheat Ridge, and Lakewood and the Habitat for Humanity have worked together to build homes for nineteen years. Each year three semi-truck loads of pumpkins, squashes, and gourds from a Navajo farm in New Mexico are sold at a pumpkin patch in Arvada (near Trinity Presbyterian Church 7755 Vance Dr. Arvada) and also in Lakewood (near Mile Hi Church 9077 W Alameda Ave. Lakewood). They are currently fundraising to build their 20th house in 2020.

This year, Arvada United Methodist Church invited the Arvada Stake to participate with other members of the coalition along with the Arvada Fire Department and other interfaith and community groups to help unload their truck. On October 9th, twenty members of the Arvada Stake joined with fifty others to help unload an astounding 2,521 pumpkins! A freezing storm was coming through the next day and it was important to pack the pumpkins carefully and cover them to prevent freezing. Kids unloaded smaller items and youth and adults stayed through the changing weather to unload pumpkins. 

Stake members had a wonderful experience working with interfaith and community neighbors while supporting a great fundraiser. They look forward to additional opportunities to serve alongside the community.  If you are looking to support a great interfaith group, please stop by to pick up a pumpkin and meet the wonderful people volunteering at the patch!

Elder Keck and his companion, Elder Dallin Thompson, 19, of Sahuarita, Arizona, were driving Sept. 13 in Kamloops, British Columbia, when their vehicle reportedly collided with a truck. Days later Elder Keck died due to his injuries. His mother was with him at his passing. Elder Thompson was critically injured in the accident.

Elder Bryant Keck, 19, of Sanford, Colorado, served in the Canada Vancouver Mission since June 2018. “He was a wonderful missionary who was full of life,” said Canada Vancouver Mission President G. Blake Wahlen. “Everyone that served with him or around him loved Elder Keck. He was just a great, hard-working missionary.”

“Our deepest condolences go out to the family and loved ones of Elder Keck as they mourn his passing and honor his life and missionary service,” said Church spokesman Daniel Woodruff.

“We continue to pray for Elder Thompson and his family as well as the individuals in the other vehicle. We hope everyone involved in this tragedy will feel the comfort and peace of the Holy Spirit during this difficult time.”

Elder Davidson is currently a service missionary in the Denver Area

Last November, the First Presidency announced an important change to missionary service.  Beginning January 2, missionary-age youth in North America may officially embark as service missionaries. With the individual in mind, each service mission is customized to the needs and abilities of the one who has been called to serve. For some, that may mean being  able to serve a few hours a week; others may serve more than 40. 

Who is being called as service missionaries – and how does it work?  Missionaries can serve for a period of time between 6 and 24 months. Those who started a proselyting mission and came home early can apply to complete their missions as service missionaries. Those who have limitations keeping them from a 18-24 month proselyting mission are also prime candidates. 

Service missionaries’ days are filled with volunteer work at a variety of locations. Evenings and weekends still mean a base at home. In the Denver area, service missionaries can be found at Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity, Lutheran Family Services, the Bishop’s Storehouse and the Denver temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Overseeing and coordinating the efforts of service missionaries are Elder Ed and Jayne Swapp, Service Mission Leaders for the Colorado Denver, Southwest Slope, Service Mission Area.

Elder and Sister Swapp are primed and ready, having recently served as Mission President and companion in Monterrey, Mexico as well as a proselyting mission in the Dominican Republic just prior. Seeing the work of the Lord move forward through service missionaries has been a blessing. 

 Elder Swapp shares his conviction that, just like proselyting missionaries, service missionaries are truly full time missionaries, and the Lord has expectations for them as well. “They will be stretched, they will be refined, and they will be tested.” 

The blessings of the mission are felt by all involved. Elder Davidson, serving in the Denver area, reported in last week’s email, “I’m excited to go back to my assignments every day and serve in a Christlike way.”

Though today’s service mission program is young, service missionaries follow a pattern set through the ages. “Just as Christ did, just as Ammon did, these missionaries are changing hearts through their service,” Sister Swapp shares. 

Those working with our missionaries recognize the similarities, too.   Trained simply to serve and not to proselyte, service missionaries still wear their missionary tag to each assignment. Those with whom they serve feel the influence of the Holy Ghost through serving together. 

Two examples will illustrate their impact. The first comes from Elder Cochran’s service, who has been serving in the Western Slope. He radiates love. Those he has served have noticed. Recently, Elder and Sister Swapp toured Elder Cochran’s volunteer facilities at Habit for Humanity. As they met various employees throughout the departments, workers recognized their missionary tags, realized they were connected with Elder Cochran, and repeated over and over, “We love Elder Cochran. Send us another like Elder Cochran. We love Elder Cochran.” 

One service missionary in Arizona made such an impact on her co-worker that when her co-worker’s home doorbell rang and two proselyting missionaries were on the front step, she recognized their name tags and invited them in. Within a few weeks, she and her family had taken all of the discussions and were baptized. The open door that led to that baptism began with a service missionary. 

Created with the idea in mind that there is a way for everyone to serve, Elder Swapp reports, “The service mission is breaking stereotypes. As church membership understands it and gets behind it, it will have a magnificent impact.”

In the meantime, those who have been called to serve continue to give their offering serving the Lord –   growing their testimonies and changing their lives in the process.