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Tales from Utah Valley: How to help locally during this holiday season

By Laura Giles - Special to the Daily Herald | Nov 25, 2023

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

Santa Claus gives stuffed animals to children at the Tabitha's Way North County Food Pantry in American Fork on Monday, Dec. 21, 2020.

During the month of November, everyone seems to try to practice gratitude more than usual. Now that Thanksgiving has passed, the spirit of gratitude often shifts to that of generosity. There are so many ways to share during this holiday season. Here are a few opportunities right here in Utah Valley.

Tabitha’s Way Local Food Pantry in American Fork is collecting new toys and new winter coats for children. Santa will be going to the pantry to help hand these items out to children in need. Some ideas include stuffed animals, toy cars, small games and puzzles, dolls and winter coats sizes 5-18. Holding a neighborhood or workplace toy drive would be a great way to collect items in a fun way. To donate, contact Kara at 801-688-9599 or kara@tabithasway.org

Many people haven’t heard about the Forgotten Patient Project at the Utah State Hospital. Dozens of patients are given Christmas presents every year through the donations of strangers. This wonderful project brings some holiday joy to patients, both children and adults, who may not normally receive gifts or have visitors. Those wishing to donate are matched up with patients and given a list of items the patient would like. For more information, contact camiroundy@utah.gov.

Through United Way of Utah County’s Sub for Santa program, kind people stand in for Santa and provide gifts for families who are going through financial struggles. These struggles are due to a variety of circumstances, including job loss, death of family member and health issues. Last year, more than 4,700 children from 1,665 families were served by community sponsors. United Way’s Sub for Santa and Angel Tree programs also serve foster teens and senior citizens who may not have family to spend the holidays with.

There are 61 Light The World Giving Machine locations around the world at which generous people can donate to a variety of causes. Clean water, food, goats and toys are some of the items that can be paid for through these Giving Machines, which are set up by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Donations go directly to both global and local charities, including some right here in Utah. There are Light the World Giving Machines set up near the ground floor interior entrance to Dillard’s at University Place in Orem.

Utah County’s Children’s Justice Center’s annual Holiday Giving Tree is set up in the Utah County Administration Building, 100 E. Center St., Suite 3800, Provo. Stop by, take an ornament, purchase the item and return the unwrapped gift to the Human Resource Department by Dec. 8. These items will be used in the center’s Santa Store for members of the community whose families needs support while dealing with the chaos and crisis that surrounds abuse.

The center, which provides healing to abused children through coordinated investigations, is also in need of new toys and warm clothing for all ages and gasoline gift cards for teens. Donations can be delivered during regular business hours to either the Provo location, 315 S. 100 East, or the American Fork location, 90 S. Center St. Thanks to the generosity of people last year, the center was able to serve 68 families and 174 children.

Sometimes we’re not in a position to donate monetarily. That’s OK. Donating time, such as volunteering at Tabitha’s Way Local Food Pantry, is another great way to help others. Giving a smile and a kind word are both free and take very little time.


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