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For a select group of businessmen between the ages of 20 and 39, giving this holiday season isn’t so much a decision as a way of life. The Northern Colorado Active 20-30, or NOCO 20-30, part of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, has grown to 35 members and anticipates giving $175,000 back to the community this year.

NOCO 20-30, is comprised of businessmen throughout Larimer and Weld counties who have pledged a minimum of $2,000 a year for children’s charities through events such as the 2009 Christmas for Kids fundraiser, a fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado. The Christmas for Kids event on Dec. 5 includes 75 youth who will get $50 Wal-Mart gift cards to shop for gifts for loved ones. Following the shopping spree, the youth will wrap their gifts at Miramont Lifestyle Fitness south location and receive a surprise gift themselves, said Chris Imsland, executive director of Partners Mentoring Youth.

Imsland said the event will not only help the children buy gifts this season, it will teach them important skills such as budgeting and making lists. “Having the men of NOCO 20-30 to help mentor the children is a big help”, Imsland added. “They are humble partners. … We are thankful to be partners with them; we owe them a great debt of gratitude,” Imsland said.

This is the third year NOCO 20-30 and the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado have teamed up to put on the Christmas for Kids event, and despite the recession, Imsland said he has not seen any decrease in support. He added the business leaders have dug deeper and worked harder than ever before. “Regardless of the economic downturn, NOCO 20-30 is a stronger partner this year than any other year,” Imsland said.

aaron-eideAaron Eide, president of NOCO 20-30, confirmed the group is one of a few charitable organizations able to raise more money this year than last year, in part due to an undisclosed partner who matched part of their fundraising. He attributes the success to the members’ dedication.

“It’s the commitment given by the guys. We don’t make excuses of why the economy is tough, we just go out and set a goal,” Eide said. As goals are met, the group is also growing by adding new members. To join NOCO 20-30, which started in 2007 in Fort Collins, prospective candidates must be sponsored or nominated by two current members. The members span a cross-section of the community, from bankers to Realtors. Eide said the group, which adheres to the motto “a man never stands so tall as when kneeling to help a child,” is motivated by a selfless desire to give back to children who might not have the same opportunities they had growing up.

“The biggest thing is the dedication from all our members and relationships in the community, (it is a) testament to a younger group of folks wanting to get involved,” said Eide, who noted some members exceed the $2,000 minimum requirement.

Members raise money for the group through a variety of ways, including personal or company sponsorships. For the Christmas for Kids fundraiser, Eide predicts they will raise $15,000 to $20,000. In August, NOCO 20-30 raised $105,000 at its signature Suitcase Party fundraiser. In 2008, the organization raised more than $105,000, with the intent of raising about $500,000 by 2012.

One reason the Christmas for Kids event is fun for the NOCO 20-30 members is they are able to see firsthand the difference their giving makes in a child’s life. “It is fulfilling to be able to watch the kids when they are wrapping presents,” Eide said.

Shane Hunsinger, general manager at Miramont Lifestyle Fitness, has been a member of NOCO 20-30 since its inception in 2007. Hunsinger said he was motivated by the organization’s mission of reaching and helping at risk youth. He said the annual Christmas for Kids fundraiser is special because of the unique opportunity to personally make a difference in a child’s life.

“It is a tremendous event where I get to see, and actually be involved with, the kids directly, which is different than a fundraising event,” he said. “It’s incredibly rewarding and it really is much more meaningful.”

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