The spirit of giving in Castle Country
Every Christmas season, many different organizations and businesses come together in the Castle Valley to make sure as many local residents as possible have a merry and fulfilling holiday. While this tradition is right at home here in Carbon County, it certainly did not begin here.
According to several sources, during the Middle Ages, it became common to give gifts to family servants on the day after Christmas. In the 1700s, parishes in the United Kingdom requested donations which were then distributed among the poor, a tradition that came to be known as Boxing Day.
In the Castle Valley, charity programs are every bit as much a part of Christmas as Santa Claus himself. From the Angel Tree program at Eastern Utah Community Credit Union, to the yearly party held for local children by Spencer's Wishes foundation, helping others is at the heart of Christmas for local businesses and citizens. This year, the Sun Advocate took a brief look at three of the many Christmas programs at work here in Carbon County.
Southeastern Utah District Health Department:
For over six years now, employees at the the Southeastern Utah District Health Department have been providing year-around community service while cooking homemade lunches for one another. Not a bad way to make a buck.
According to SEUDHD Head of Nursing Dottie Flemett, one of the department's employees hosts a lunch weekly and the staff then pays to eat. Funds from the weekly lunches are saved, and the group supports several local charities all year long with what is raised.
"At the end of the year, we try to provide Christmas for as many individual as we can," explained Flemett. "We try to do something different every year, however for the last two Christmases we have selected 10 elderly individuals from local assisted living facilities."
Becky Colombo of the SEUDHD reported that the lunches have been a great way to serve the community, she also stated that it has brought the department's employees together.
"We tried to make sure that these 10 individuals didn't have any local family or friends to buy for them this year," Colombo explained. "We also make sure we spend some time at the facility and visit for awhile, it really seems to make a difference for those we can help and it makes a huge difference for everyone who participates on our end."
Angel Tree at Eastern Utah Community Credit Union
For 15 years now, the Eastern Utah Community Credit Union has been supporting local children, the elderly and the handicapped who may have a lean Christmas without their help. To do this, the credit union works with the United Way to shop for locals through their Angel Tree program.
According to Member Service Representative Barbara Robinett, the program started 15 years ago and she became involved one year later. For 14 Christmases, Robinett has not only put approximately 200 on EUCCU's tree but she actually makes those angels yearly and worked to create a database to track their adoption.
"Every year, we make sure that every angel receives a coat, a pair of shoes, at least one outfit and something from their wish list," said Robinett. "We track the angels after they are adopted and if they don't receive all that I mentioned, we supplement shop to make sure they are taken care of."
The member representative reported that in the current economy, at least $200 is spent on every child to make sure they receive the items previously listed, even with help that comes from every corner of the community.
"J. D. Banasky makes sure that we have coats for these kids every year," she said. "And we try to get at least 200 angels every season. It's a huge undertaking and something we could never do without the organizational help we get from the United Way."
The United Way in Price serves and the hub for those who need assistance at Christmas. They take in every application and make sure that every one is adopted and that they are adopted only once. Despite some difficult times in the local economy, Robinett reported that this year's need was less than in previous year and that the United Way had adopted out all of their angels as of Dec. 20.
"In previous years, Mr. Milovich has played Santa Claus many times, if there were angels that the United Way still had late in the season, he always sent me down there to adopt them," she said.
While the credit union's CEO has always been generous to this program, Robinett and her colleague at EUCCU, Cyndi Dayley, explained that the employees of the credit union raise funds all year for their portion of the angel tree.
"We work all year long for these funds," said Dayley. "We always have our booth at Community Daze where we sell Navajo Tacos, we host many giveaways and we conduct our yearly yard sale every summer. This project is very important to everyone who works here."
According to Robinett, the credit union plans to host a golf tournament next summer to help with costs associated with the angel tree, however, fulfilling the wish list of 200 plus individuals takes more than credit union fund raising can accomplish.
"We could never do this without the help of our members, concluded Robinett. "Every year they stun us with their generosity and willingness to help."
Miners Trading Post
For the 2011 Holiday Season, Miners Trading Post in Sunnyside partnered with the local Carbon County Food Bank to help provide a meal for those who would go without this Christmas.
"We wanted to do something special this year," explained Brittnie Medina, Store Manager at Miners. "Our staff came up with a fundraiser that included taking turkeys to the area's food bank and Trading Turkeys was born."
At Miners, the giving began on Dec. 13, when patrons where notified that if they spent at least $100 a turkey would be donated to the Carbon County Food Bank. The fundraiser concluded on Dec. 20 and according to Medina, more than 30 baking birds were on their way to households all over the Castle Valley.
"We had everyone put their name on a slip so that the turkey would be donated in the customer's name, said Medina, whose father Jim Leonard owns Miners and has worked at the establishment his whole life. "We got the idea because we wanted to do a service project and this seemed like a good way to ensure that families had a meal to come together over on Christmas."
Miners Trading Post opened in 1947 and has been serving the Castle Valley with their products and through various community service projects ever since.