Community programs brighten Carbon's spirits, holiday season
|Richard Tatton and Keith Mason aid in the Sub for Santa effort this Christmas. |
For Christmas 2007, Santa received a little help from his friends at the United Way.
The organization's Sub for Santa and Angel Tree programs helped bring the gift of joy to nearly every qualifying applicant family in Carbon County.
The United Way's programs are temporary assistance projects that provide Christmas gifts for children and some other local residents through community sponsors.
"The fostering of self-sufficiency is an important part of the program," pointed out the United Way's website. "We do this by helping families and applicants learn different ways to manage their time, money and talents."
While Sub for Santa is one of the larger programs within United Way, the Angel Tree is used by a significant segment of the Carbon County community to spread the spirit of giving and help those less fortunate.
Barbara Robinett of the Eastern Utah Community Credit Union reported that their organization sponsored 250 individuals and families this year spending approximately $40,000 in the process.
The credit union places the approved names on a tree in the local branch. Sponsors then take a name, age and gift ideas from the tree and buy gifts for a particular family.
"We make sure to take whole families so that we never run into a situation where one child in a family gets a gift and another does not," said Robinett. "We also make sure that once a child is accepted through the credit union they get gifts no matter what."
The credit union uses the practice of shopping for any remaining "angels" themselves if the children are not adopted from the tree by one of the financial body's members.
"We could never do this without the support of our members," said Robinett. "Their generosity makes the Angel Tree possible here at the credit union."
While ECCU is the largest participant in the United Way's Angel Tree program, there are several others Carbon County businesses who sponsor trees and give to those in need.
Families receiving assistance must apply and qualify for assistance through either the Angel Tree or Sub for Santa programs.
To be considered, a family must in most cases, have at least one child between the ages of 18 months and 14 years of age.
Numerous eligibility factors are considered, including income, expenses and individual disabilities, as well as other circumstances such as recent unemployment.
Residents who choose to select a participant from the Angel Tree are usually asked to provide two new items of clothing, two new toys and a book for each child, according to United Way information.
"At the credit union, we usually suggest that individuals buy one new outfit for each child, a pair of shoes, a coat and one item from the child's wish list," said Robinett. "We have a ton of support here. JD Banansky has become our coat man. He provides the coats we need for any children left on the tree close to Christmas."
Robinett reported that the credit union only had to shop for 20 of the 250 qualified participants this year. The members of the financial branch took care of the rest.
More information concerning how much a sponsor should spend and how the packages should be delivered is available from the United Way's website or at the ECCU.
"Put yourselves in the recipients shoes," said the United Way website. "If you were to receive gifts for your children from a stranger, wouldn't you be curious to see what they were given? In addition by letting the parents wrap the gifts you donate, you share the experience and allow the parents to play a greater role in providing for their children's Christmas. Perhaps you could include wrapping paper and bows for the parents to use. It may be a good idea to put the gifts in a black garbage bag or box so the children won't see them."
Donors could arrange to deliver the packages or the credit union would.
"Applicants were required to meet income guidelines, prove that the child is residing in the household, prove that they have custody of the minor child as well as other qualifications," concluded Robinett. "We gave to a wide variety of individuals this year, mostly children but some new mothers and the elderly. What was important to us was the spirit of giving to those who maybe had a tough year."