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Denver Day of Service helps bring fans together with Broncos for community service

DENVER — Denise Ruscetta saw the ad online some time ago. The Broncos had announced they'd be hosting the inaugural Denver Day of Service, and with her husband, Jim, recently retired, she thought it'd be a great activity for the two of them.

"Gosh, that would be a great way to help," she recalled thinking.

That they were also Broncos fans didn't hurt — but they probably didn't expect they'd be part of an assembly line at the Food Bank of the Rockies with team President and CEO Joe Ellis and tight end Jeff Heuerman.

Usually that's who the Broncos' community events are organized for — players and staff. But with the Day of Service being part of the Broncos' "Huddle for 100" league-wide initiative that encourages fans to join volunteer for at least 100 minutes during the celebration of the NFL's 100th season, the team created the event as a way to expand the opportunity for community service for everyone across the Denver metro area. The Food Bank was just one of more than 20 locations where fans could dedicate almost two hours of their time toward improving different areas of the community.

So that's how the Ruscettas and so many other fans became a part of the event at the food bank or any of the other locations.

Get a glimpse of the more than 20 projects spread across metro Denver as part of the inaugural Denver Day of Service, host by the Broncos and Mile High United Way.

There were also groups of coworkers who had seen the opportunity and thought it'd be great for their corporate volunteer work.

"We had volunteered with the Denver Rescue Mission before, making boxes, and it really felt like we made an impact, to put all the food together and see it coming together," said Natalie Donofrio, whose employer Ernst & Young suggested the Day of Service for their volunteer program. "So we wanted to get as many people as we could here."

As she and a few dozen volunteers on site worked efficiently in their assembly lines to package boxes of food for senior citizens who live under the poverty line, the impact here at the food bank also became evident quickly.

"It's really fun," Ellis said during a break in the action. "We've got fans, corporations sending employees. We've got players, we've got cheerleaders, a lot of staff members. Everybody's all in today, and I'm really proud of the effort that everybody on our staff [made] to put this together."

It was a large undertaking, and with the goal of celebrating the NFL's 100th season, it had to be — and it just made sense that anyone in the area could take part.

"The NFL is celebrating its 100th season in 2019, and across the country we are working together to bridge the gap between the teams and the cities that they play in," said Allie Engelken, Executive Director of Community Outreach for the Broncos. "Hosting 100-minute service projects here in Denver through a day of service makes us feel closer, not only to the nonprofits that we're serving, but the fans that we're working alongside of to make those projects come to life."

And whether it was at the Food Bank of the Rockies, the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado or any of the other nonprofit organizations where community projects were hosted, everyone came away knowing they had done at least just a small part to help improve where they live. Ultimately, more than 500 volunteers contributed 88,700 minutes of service, which has an estimated value of more than $40,000, based on the Independent Sector's Value of Volunteer Time in Colorado.

And this is just the start. The Denver Day of Service will return next year, and you can already count the Ruscettas among those eagerly awaiting the sign-up sheet in 2020.

"It's a good way to not only support the community, but to work along with the Broncos," Jim Ruscetta said. "Absolutely I could see this every year growing into something bigger and bigger. I really could. It's a great thing."

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