Student uses tip money to help family at Christmas

Kalinda Theobold, a Colorado Mesa University student, wraps presents for a family she was connected with as a holiday donor through HOPE of the Grand Valley. Theobold said she collected about $500 in tips from her restaurant job this year for the presents. She said her interest in charitable work flourished after a church mission trip to Los Angeles in 2009.

Every tip Kalinda Theobold collected for 10 months at her job at Chipotle got her a few bucks closer to her goal of providing a merry Christmas for a local family.

The 20-year-old Colorado Mesa University student decided earlier this year to use all of her tip money to buy Christmas presents for people in need. She collected canned food two years ago and collected toys for homeless children last year. She knew she wanted to do something similar this Christmas but wasn’t sure how much money she would be able to collect in the tip jar.

By the end of November, she had about $500. Her mom spotted an ad in The Daily Sentinel for HOPE of the Grand Valley, a local charitable organization that has connected donors with families in need since 2009 through the Adopt a Family for Christmas program. She had enough money to adopt a family of seven, so she signed up with the program about a week ago.

“I’ve always loved the giving part of Christmas,” Theobold said.

She will be giving a lot when she delivers a bundle of clothes, toys, and a giant stocking filled with candy to her “adopted” family. Theobold said she would rather have the donation be anonymous, but HOPE of the Grand Valley Executive Director Vicki McGee wanted her to drop the gifts off personally after she heard about Theobold’s 10 months of saving.

“I thought hers was an incredible story,” McGee said. “I think it would only be right for her to see the look on the family’s faces.”

McGee said she originally planned to have every family on her list adopted by Dec. 5, but she has extended the deadline to Dec. 20. Locals have agreed to provide presents and food for 456 people so far, but there are still more than 100 people waiting to be adopted through

“You’re helping a family and you’re feeling good, so why not?” McGee said.

Theobold said she has always been interested in charitable work. That interest flourished after she took a mission trip with a church to Los Angeles in summer 2009 and saw first-hand how many people are in need in that community. She has gone on other mission trips to Mexico and Tulsa, Okla., and the music education and vocal performance double-major hopes to make nonprofit work part of her future.

“It’s just always something I’ve been drawn toward,” she said.


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