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United Way of Utah County prepping for Sub for Santa, taking names

By Genelle Pugmire - | Nov 20, 2023

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald file photo

A sign for United Way's Sub for Santa program is taped to the door of the room housing donations at the United Way office in Provo on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022.

For 41 years, the United Way of Utah County’s Sub for Santa program has been helping families and single adults have a better Christmas. The Daily Herald has partnered with Sub for Santa for more than 35 of those years.

Family stories and wish lists will begin appearing Dec. 1 and each day through Dec. 21 in the Daily Herald print and online editions — just look for the Sub for Santa logo on the front page and at heraldextra.com.

This service has become a long-standing tradition with approximately 6,000 individuals being helped each year. With the holidays quickly approaching, preparations are being made to again match families and volunteer donors.

Currently, Sub for Santa volunteers are taking names of those in need of extra help this year. As the Thanksgiving holiday unfolds, Sub for Santa encourages potential donors to think about the blessings and bounty they have received this year and to think about paying that forward.

“Sub for Santa is more than just the gifts, it’s a way to connect with neighbors and friends who just need a little extra help during the holidays,” said Danielle Moran, marketing manager at United Way of Utah County. “I get to speak with the families who receive help and they are full of gratitude and love, especially knowing that the community cares for them and wants to help. The impact of this program truly captures the spirit of giving. I love the joy I see in everyone who participates, giver and receiver alike.”

Courtesy United Way

2023 Sub for Santa logo

Here are four ways Moran says residents can give this season:

1. Sponsor a family

Take part in the full Sub for Santa experience. Sign up on subforsanta.org to be a sponsor and get matched with a family. You will have the opportunity to connect with the family, shop for each family member and deliver the gifts directly to them. At least two to three new articles of clothing, one to two new toys and three to five new books are required for each child in the family.

2. Sponsor an individual

If you would like to sponsor an individual, consider sponsoring an Angel Tree child. Pick up a name from one of the Angel Tree locations, shop for the child and bring the presents back to the Angel Tree. Presents will be delivered by volunteers; you will not have any contact with the family. Here are the locations:

  • Smith’s Marketplaces in Lehi, Saratoga Springs and Springville.
  • University Place Giving Tree in Orem.

3. Donate

Making a financial donation helps fill in the gaps for the Sub for Santa program. You can also donate to help families year-round by visiting unitedwayuc.org/donate.

The agency also accepts donations of new clothes, books, toys, educational games and other items. You can drop them off at the main United Way office at 148 N. 100 West in Provo. Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

4. Volunteer

Sub for Santa is always in need of volunteers. Join them as Santa’s helper by signing up for an opportunity at volunteer.unitedwayuc.org. Opportunities will be listed here and might include open houses (helping families complete their applications), sorting Angel Tree gifts, delivering gifts and picking up gifts from the Angel Tree store locations.

Sub for Santa is especially in need of Spanish-speaking volunteers to help families apply for the program.

“The families who receive help are not only receiving gifts but help beyond the holiday season. They are connected to other resources such as 211, a nonemergency hotline that can connect them to transportation, food and utilities assistance, or our EveryDay Strong mental health program. It’s all about connecting to the community,” said Emalee Higginson, seasonal program coordinator.

Bryce Barton and his wife are recent university graduates who live in Provo and were looking for a holiday date last year.

“We were honestly looking for a holiday date because with crazy schedules Christmas was sneaking up and I found where there was (an Angel Tree) and thought it would be a fun thing to do, but also get to help somebody else enjoy Christmas too,” he said.

Barton said it was fun to go shopping with a wish list for someone and it reminded the Bartons of the excitement they felt as kids.

“We shopped for a young boy and it was really fun for me because he asked for a remote control car and I remember always wanting one when I was his age, so it was cool to get to find that for him. Even for us in college and just recently graduating, it was very doable,” he said. “I think around here everyone wants to make the world a better place and we all have big goals, but in reality there are simple opportunities right here in the city we live in. It was a reminder to me to step back and realize there is work to be done close to home.”

Barton added that he and his wife are planning on doing it again this year.


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