The Bob Telmosse’ Christmas Giveaway may have started as a practical joke but is has transformed into an annual act of community charity that has endured for more than three decades. The most unique feature of the Giveaway is its’ dedication to truly unconditional charity. Every year local community members donate toys and food to those in need during the holidays. The single-day event draws crowds of thousands and there are no stipulations about who can receive donations. Bob had a staunch “no questions asked” policy that continues to be the core tenant of the Giveaway.
The event started in 1983, when a crowd of people showed up to Bob’s business. Unbeknownst to him an anonymous prankster had published an ad for a charitable giveaway at his store. Bob asked the crowd to return later and promised he would have food to give away. Bob decided to create an annual event and moved the giveaway to coincide with Christmas to help those in need during the holidays. The event relies on community involvement and every year the community has donated food, toys, space, and time. The most popular item among kids are bicycles. For over a decade local business Ted’s Bicycles has helped repair and tune-up donated bicycles, all free-of-charge.
The Christmas Giveaway has become an essential holiday fixture in Colorado Springs. Since Bob’s death in 2006 the people of Colorado Springs and the organizers of the event have continued the Giveaway every year, even during uncertain times. In 2007 the event was cancelled because a venue could not be secured. A local business owner stepped in to host the event. Although there was less than a month to prepare and secure donations the Giveaway went off without a hitch. In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the event from being held in its’ traditional format. The organizers adapted to a drive-through format and requested gift card donations in lieu of toys.
Bob Telmosse’ took a prank and created an event that inspired members of a community to unconditionally support one another, year after year. Bob wanted to help anyone who needed it and never wanted anyone to feel shame for being in a tough position. As Bob said, “Every person’s dignity is respected. It’s just people from all walks of life, helping other less fortunate people also from all walks of life.”
Generously Submitted by Patrick Lee, CSPM Museum Technician