Come together it takes a community

Eager faces and wide eyes look towards the frosty winter sky.

Knowing the children have full bellies and a warm hand to hold might make a spectator feel as if they have stumbled onto a paved, urban version of The Grinch’s Whoville; cue the singing.

The children hear a soft buzzing — quiet at first and a bit confusing but all the more exciting as it moves closer. Still watching intently they soon realize that who they’ve been waiting for — Santa Clause — is arriving in a . . . helicopter? A bit of an untraditional form of transportation perhaps, but no less special for these kids as they clamor forward to receive the first of their gifts. For most of these children, today is the only reason they are getting any presents this year.

SHOP WITH A COP

The “Shop with a Cop” program has been part of the Heber Valley for many years, or at least as long as the 20 years that County Sheriff, Jared Rigby, has been in the area. Sheriff Rigby shares that “The Shop with a Cop program is different. People don’t fill out an application like [they do] for other services.” Instead, they are referred by first responders who are actively looking for children from families in distress throughout the year. School resource officers, firefighters, valley-wide law enforcement, and volunteer search and rescue officers can make suggestions. Administrators take the time to research each situation and make phone calls to families in order to decide which 30-50 children will receive the opportunity to participate in this special day.

Partnering with The Homestead in Midway, the children meet with an appointed officer-friend for breakfast. Following the tasty meal, they are taken to the Walmart parking lot where the most iconic figure in Western Christmas culture is flown in by the valley’s Search and Rescue department. After receiving their first gift from Santa, the children are led into the store where they can spend an allotted amount of money on additional items they may need: winter coats; gloves; and shoes. Those in charge of the program try to collect enough donations from individuals and businesses throughout the year so that each child can pick out one or two gifts for a family member such as a parent or sibling. When it’s time for checkout, Walmart offers extra assistance to the program by having plenty of staff on hand to run the registers, offer treats, and wrap the items the children have purchased, so those they give to can open their gift on Christmas day. Donations for this year’s Shop with a Cop day are being accepted through December 1.

For details about how to offer assistance, contact the Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office at 654-1098

THANKSGIVING DINNER

Each year, the Heber branch of the Christian Center of Park City offers a Thanksgiving dinner open to anyone in the community. Traditionally, the dinner is prepared by volunteers and served cafeteria style. However, due to the worldwide pandemic of COVID, the custom has shifted to accommodate social distancing by serving meals through a drive-thru style service. Continuing concerns about the virus and elevated case numbers means that 2021 will look the same. As of this writing, details regarding the location and time for this year’s dinner have not yet been released.

If you would like to donate or partake of the deliciousness, visit ourwcf.org or ccofpc.org

WEEKEND SNACK PACK

In an effort to prevent local children from going hungry over the extended holiday break, the Wasatch Community Foundation expands their Weekend Snack Pack each year. The WCF partners with the CCPC and local businesses to offer Christmas gifts in combination with two-weeks worth of food for their Christmas Box Food initiative. Wigglish, Walmart, and other partners, including generous community members, provide gift cards that are given to the families to purchase the presents. The food is purchased with money from the Wasatch Community Foundation’s Human Services fund, bagged up by volunteers, and distributed to the families in need. Monetary and gift card donations are accepted year round for this program, and volunteers are needed to help package and distribute the food items.

For more information on donating, or to inquire about receiving assistance, contact the Wasatch Community Foundation at ourwcf.org

When we live with our eyes and hearts open, we see opportunities to uplift someone, even through a smile or offering a “hello”. Sometimes these tiny acts are the most meaningful. I challenge each of us to search daily for these kinds of moments. If you can do a little more, especially during this holiday season, consider participating in one of these programs to help take care of our own. We all know the Heber Valley is a great place to live for many reasons, and the quality that makes it the greatest place is our ability to give back.