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Can’d Aid opens up a can of 10th-anniversary celebration

Can’d Aid has grown into a nationally known organization that encourages community spirit and resilience
Volunteers with retailer Journeys built a shoe of skateboards on Tuesday that were donated to kids at the Hidden Lake Boys & Girls Club.

Can’d Aid, a Longmont-based nonprofit organization known for distributing more than 3 million cans of water, is preparing to commemorate its 10th anniversary on August 10th at Oskar Blues in Denver.

The celebratory event will bring together volunteers to construct bicycles, skateboards and assemble art kits, all of which will be gifted to the local underprivileged youth. 

After the charitable activities, volunteers are invited to a ticketed live concert at the Black Buzzard music venue within the same premises. The concert will feature Can’d Aid Tunes Ambassadors Arthur Hancock and the Songs From the Road Band. Tickets for the show can be found on their website.

Over the years, Can’d Aid has grown into a nationally known organization that encourages community spirit and resilience through water distribution, promoting access to music, arts, outdoor activities for disadvantaged youth and environmental protection and restoration. 

Since its establishment in 2013, Can’d Aid has distributed more than 3 million cans of water, built over 17,000 bikes and skateboards for underprivileged youth, donated more than 3,500 instruments and recycled the equivalent of 73 million aluminum cans.

Founder and Executive Director of Can’d Aid, Diana Ralston, said, “Our uniqueness lies in the way we motivate people to unite and make a significant difference in their communities." She also expressed pride in Can'd Aid's Colorado origins, which started as a local flood response and has since expanded into a national campaign.

Founded in response to the catastrophic floods that hit Boulder County in 2013, Can’d Aid's initial mission was to aid in recovery and rebuild the community. Over the years, the organization's work has extended to nationwide disaster relief, conducting over 11,000 volunteer-led projects, promoting sustainability, physical health and mental wellness. Last year, in Colorado alone, they built 1,500 bikes and skateboards and donated over 110 instruments to underprivileged youth.

"Can'd Aid was born out of disaster — the flood that hit the Front Range of Colorado in September 2013. We've evolved from that hyperlocal response into a national nonprofit over the past decade," Ralston said. "In the height of COVID-19 in 2021, we hit a milestone by implementing a program in all 50 states. That is a pretty significant journey and a big accomplishment."

 Ralston clarified that Can’d Aid's inception had been planned a year before the devastating flood. The organization was not initially designed with disaster response in mind, and adapting to this unexpected challenge was indeed a struggle. Despite the unforeseen circumstances, the flood event and subsequent national media attention acted as a catalyst, giving the organization's mission a significant push forward.

Reflecting on the last decade, Ralston said, “This anniversary is a chance to appreciate and acknowledge the invaluable contribution of our nearly 30,000 volunteers. We wish to celebrate this moment with them as a token of gratitude for making our journey possible."

The organization's ultimate goal is to continue spreading goodness and inspiring volunteerism. Ralston acknowledged the uncertainty of the current times but holds an optimistic view about Can’d Aid's future. The organization is ready to resume relationships with its old corporate partners, attract new partners and keep growing to make a significant impact.

"We all have the ability to give back and do good. Once you start doing good, it feels good. So, you want to do more of it," Ralston said. "This is such an easy, basic, nice way to feel like you're making a difference right at home. It may seem like a small act of goodness, but if enough of us are doing it all, it all really adds up.”