This year, Lauren Ruppert and her husband, David, decided not to exchange Christmas gifts, instead having their six young-adult children bring donations to their holiday gathering.

According to the Denver Post, the couple organized beanies, ChapStick, socks, gloves and snacks into holiday gift bags, which they passed out on New Year's Day.

Lauren and David are both teachers in the Denver area and each hold a second job to cover their living expenses. Ruppert told Denver Post, “We are not wealthy people, but this was the right thing to do.”

“There is so much need,” Ruppert told Denver Post, wiping tears from her eyes. “Next time, we'll bring more. Everything is stacked against people who are struggling. There is a perception that they’ve done something wrong or that they want to be here, but the reality is that most people are one, two, three paychecks away from being in these circumstances here in Denver.”

She’s right about that, as the median home price in Denver has shot up from $202,896 to $424,051 since 2010, according to Daryl Fairweather of Redfin. That’s an annual increase of 11.2%, whereas average annual wages have only increased by 2.8%.

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness reported that, as of January 2018, 10,857 Coloradans were experiencing homelessness on any given day.

Public school data reported to the U.S. Department of Education during the 2016-17 school year found an estimated 23,014 public school students experiencing homelessness.

Sharmaine Castro was among the homeless to receive a care package from the Rupperts. She told Denver Post “It means a lot because most people won’t even say hello to us,” Castro said. “You feel invisible sometimes. It’s cool that people like this — just a family, from their own heart — thought about the homeless today.”

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