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Volunteers donate handmade Christmas ornaments to Marshall Fire families

More than 7,000 ornaments were sent to Colorado from as far as Japan.

BROOMFIELD, Colo. — Getting ready for the holidays has never been like this for Carol Burton.

For the past several months, boxes have piled up in her living room because of an idea she had to help families who lost everything in last December's Marshall Fire.

"It's the little losses that are the hardest, like treasured Christmas ornaments," Burton said. "This first Christmas is probably going to be tough."

Through a Facebook group called Operation Christmas Ornaments from Near and Far, Burton talked to the group's leader to organize a nationwide effort to replace what the fire victims have lost.

"I don't know if she asked me or if I volunteered, but basically said, well, I could probably help with that, not knowing what I was getting myself into," Burton said.

About 50 volunteers showed up at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Broomfield to help Burton sort and pack more than 7,000 ornaments that showed up at Burton's door. The donations arrived from more than 40 states. There was even a box full from Japan. Every single one of the donations was hand-made.

"I think there's something special about taking the time, people knowing that there's people across the country that took the time to make something special for them," Burton said.

While addressing the volunteers, Burton shared a message from a family that lost their home who mentioned missing little things like Christmas ornaments.

"This is why we’re doing this," she said. "I’m gonna get choked up, and it does mean a lot. It’s a small thing, but it does mean a lot, and everybody across the country has their little small part, and now you’re gonna do your little small part to help with it, too."

When Sheliah Martin heard about the efforts, she said she had to volunteer. 

"Each one is like the baby's first birthday or your first being in your house for the first time or an anniversary," Martin said.

Martin said she believes that what the fire victims actually lost were bonds to the past. She wants to help them make new moments.

"When you think about ornaments that made memories for people, that's kind of sad," she said. "It is the little things, and an ornament doesn't sound like much, but it brings back a memory from your grandparent or from your parent or from your child. You know, family is the most important thing."

Burton said the bags of ornaments were distributed to nearly 300 families. She's finally ready for the holidays, now that the boxes are cleared from her living room.

"The love that came through those ornaments was actually a palpable feeling in my house," Burton said.

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