A Holly, Jolly Christmas: Holiday Service Opportunities

Published: November 22, 2011 | Category: Community Outreach

In efforts to spread holiday cheer far and wide, beginning this week, SUU’s Community Engagement Center will again team up with the Iron County Holiday Assistance program (ICHA) to host several service events to help those in need across Iron County.

In addition to donations of food, clothing and gift items, help is needed to staff the various events, beginning with the Thanksgiving weekend “Stuff the Truck.”
For those in town during the Thanksgiving break, a “Stuff the Truck” event will take place at Wal-Mart on Friday, November 25, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and again on Saturday the 26th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A moving truck will be parked outside, collecting toys, clothing and cash to be used in providing holiday assistance to families in Iron County.

The following week, on November 29 and 30, “Stuff the Truck” will come to campus to collect donations from the SUU community. Volunteers are needed in both locations for one or two hour shifts.

Service opportunities for students, faculty, staff and the community continue far beyond the Thanksgiving holiday.

A special holiday Bread & Soup Nite will take place on November 28 from 5 – 7 p.m. in a longstanding campus tradition aimed at stocking the shelves of the campus HOPE Pantry, which serves as a food bank to SUU students in need. For $1 and a non-perishable food item, students, faculty, staff and community members may enjoy live entertainment and all the soup, bread and treats they can eat.

Santa Claus himself will make an appearance at Monday’s Bread & Soup Nite, at 6:15 p.m. Before and after St. Nick’s visit, students from the Canyon View High School Choir and Band will provide festive background music. There will also be ongoing Christmas sing-alongs throughout the evening.

An ongoing service opportunity throughout the holiday season is the “Coats for Kids” program run through SUU’s Community Engagement Center to collect winter wear for local children of all ages. Donated coats should be in new or gently used condition and may be donated directly to the center or to the Center for Women and Families, both located in the Sharwan Smith Student Center. Coat collection bins will also be available in student housing buildings and following the Thanksgiving holiday, in Lin’s Marketplace.

And as part of a longstanding Christmas tradition, the Community Engagement Center will also coordinate much of Iron County’s Angel Tree program.

An angel tree will stand in the Sharwan Smith Center on November 28 through December 2 as a collection site for donations to the Iron County Holiday Assistance program, which helps parents in need fulfill holiday wish lists. Gifts large and small are welcomed, or you may volunteer your time to help accept donations. Additional Angel Trees will stand in various local businesses and also in the Enoch and Cedar City office buildings.

Collections from the Angel Tree program are used to stock a Holiday Store. Here, parents in need are able to “shop” for the gifts that best fit their children’s interests.

According to Pam Branin, associate director of the Community Engagement Center, this is the second year the Angel Tree program in Iron County has been run this way, thanks to “a lot of positive feedback,” after piloting the new method last year.

Branin explains, “By letting parents pick out gifts for their kids rather than compiling a traditional gift package, we allow parents a greater involvement in the gifting process and help ensure children are really getting something that will excite them come Christmas morning.”

Branin adds, this new method has been helpful for local retailers as well, as it has decreased the number of returns and exchanges for donated items.”

The Holiday Store will be available through the week of December 12, and volunteers — particularly Spanish speakers — are needed to help staff the store.

Last year, the Community Engagement Center and ICHA served over 400 families with food, clothing and other assistance during the holiday season. More than 1,000 children received gifts and enjoyed a warm Christmas dinner with their families.

SUU students and employees accounted for approximately 10 percent of the total support rendered in last year’s events such as Toys for Tots, Shop With a Cop and other programs coordinated by ICHA.

For more information or if you would like to volunteer your service for any event, please contact Pam Branin, associate director of the Community Engagement Center, at 435-865-8340 or braninp@suu.edu.

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