Operation Hope Brings Gifts To Families In The Wasatch Back

The Christian Center of Park City is giving local residents the chance to help underprivileged families this holiday season. Operation Hope is back serving both Park City and Heber.

See the original story at KPCW.org.

Rob Harter, Executive Director of Christian Center of Park City, explains that Operation Hope, now in its eighth year, helps underprivileged families with gifts for Christmas.

“Last year we served over 1,500 local kids both Heber and Park City.” Harter said, “We had a toy store. What that is, people from the community buy all these gifts, or if they’re not brand new at least they’re unwrapped. They bring them to the store and then the parents can come, and they actually can select the toys they want for their children. We switched to a toy store concept about five years ago. The idea would be that it’s just more empowering. Who knows better what their kids want than their parents? Their parents can choose exactly what they want. It’s a great volunteer opportunity you get to meet a ton of great people from the community, so it’s a special special event.”

You can visit the Operation Hope page on the Christian Center’s website for an idea of what toys would be a good purchase. Harter explains how they find the families for the program.

“So, we work really closely with the schools.” Harter explained, “We had a sign up about a month and a half ago and so really its open to everybody, but we just work really close with the schools who know these families that really are in need. They make sure that those families know about the sign up. As I mentioned we’ll probably have about 500 families get involved and it turns out to be about 1,500 kids.”

Harter explains how they expanded over into Heber.

“Some community members said this is a fantastic program, we’d like to do it in Heber not just in Park City.” Harter continued, “So we’re going to do it on the 19th in Park City at Saint Mary’s. Then on the 21st on Friday we’re going to Mt. Timpanogos Middle School and we’re going to offer it to Heber. The community has really rallied around it. Not only will there be a toy store just like we normally do, but they’re going to actually have hot meals that they’ve already put together. They’re going to serve the families that come to go to the toy store. So, it’s like a full experience that day.”

The Christian Center reports that they do not need any more volunteers for the 19th in Park City but could use more volunteers for the 21st in Heber. You can still continue to bring gifts to donate through Friday December 14th.

“Bring gifts to the Christian Center.” Harter said, “You may see some Operation Hope boxes around town. There’s about 12 locations throughout town restaurants and different places around town. So, you can just put them in that big box that says operation hope, or the best is just to drop if off at the Christian Center. We’d love to record your gift and thank you for what you’ve done. We’re taking them through next Friday, that’s the end date.”

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/.