Operation Hope Brings Christmas Cheer

Operation Hope began 10 years ago in Summit County and just “wrapped up” another year of making Christmas more magical for those in need. This toy, clothing and book drive is headed up by the Christian Center of Park City, or CCPC.

Getting Started

Operation Hope began by serving less than 100 children and operated much like a Sub-for-Santa. Those who wanted to donate would purchase specific things for the tag they were given, IE a toy for a five-year-old girl. Then the gift would be delivered to that specific child. After several years of this method, it was decided that gifts could be more personalized and recipients would feel more independent if they could choose the items that are best for their children.

Operation Hope eventually grew to serve families in both Summit and Wasatch County. Its size in recent years has made it necessary to operate in both places. In Wasatch County, many local organizations help to make these efforts a success. These include Wasatch Community Alliance, Mt. Fellowship Church, Santa’s Helpers and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This year, Operation Hope gave to more than 700 children in Wasatch County alone.

Operation Hope Goals

Pete Stroughton, Director of Programs for the CCPC, has been part of the program from the beginning. He stated, “Some of the big goals for Operation Hope are to encourage recipients to get involved, and also to protect their dignity through this process.” The current method lets parents surprise their children on Christmas morning. A children’s playroom is provided while the parents shop. Someone who wants to give back after receiving gifts in the Park City area can choose to volunteer at the Heber City shopping day (and vise-versa).

The entire program is completely free to families in need. It includes education about community resources as well as gift wrapping, snacks for kids during Christmas break and a Christmas dinner. Around 300 volunteers contributed hundreds of man-hours on Friday, December 20 and Saturday, December 21 to prepare and carry out this large-scale service.

To get involved next year, visit https://www.ccofpc.org/operation-hope/

Heber Valley Artisan Cheese held their 2nd annual Ice Sculptures Exhibition this weekend. Several local businesses sponsored the sculptures being displayed. There were also two different ice carving demonstrations. The event was free to the public.

The annual event began last year when Carolee Kohler saw ice sculpting on a Hallmark movie and thought it would be a fun idea for their farm. They are also considering a woodcarving event.

According to Lindsey Strother, social media and events coordinator, each sculpture takes between 1-3 hours to carve. “We contacted Amazing Ice Creations back in November, and we reached out to local companies to sponsor the ice sculptures,” she said. “Yesterday morning around 9 am, they came in a massive truck and dropped them all off for us, and we set them up.”

Along with the ice sculptures, sponsors receive a sign and canopy for the display and social media marketing. The sponsors decide what they want to have sculpted. After the event, they can take the ice sculptures and display them at their businesses. The creations normally last a couple of weeks. Some will be left in the field and can be viewed throughout the week.

The ice this year included Olaf, company logos, animals, and other items. Darron Kingston, the sculptor, has carved ice for over 10 years with his dad. According to Kingston, “I like sculptures that give me a challenge. Here, for example, my favorite was the lumberjack.” One of his favorite past creations was a 9-foot bear.

Grant Kohler, owner of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, explained, “We decided to do something that was free and something that people could just get out and come and enjoy. Especially this year with Covid, it seems like Januarys are slow months. People are looking for things to be able to get outside and do.” He continued, “Businesses pay in and buy the sculptures, we have them sculpted, and then we just let people come and enjoy them.” Kohler estimated around 3,000 to 4,000 people will stop by the event.

The dairy farm also offers cheese-making classes and tours of their new robotic barn. “The tours are everyday except Sunday,” according to Kohler. “People hayride over, intermingle with the cows, see the barn and amenities, and watch the cows be milked. The cows will literally go get milked on their own.” Tickets for the tours and other events are available on the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese website: https://hebervalleyartisancheese.com/.