Working to give back to the community, the Community Engagement Center is setting up trees around the city and on the SUU campus. throughout the month of November. These Angel Trees hold ornaments that have information on items needed by families and children throughout the community and they are for anyone to take for the opportunity to give back to the community.
This program, run by the Community Engagement Center at SUU and its partners such as Toys for Tots, Shop With a Cop and Care and Share, provides Christmas gifts for children ages 0 through 17 or 18. The Angel ornaments are pieces of paper with angels printed on them. On the back holds information on an item or items that are needed by children, whether it be a stocking stuffer, school supplies or a gift for a boy or girl of a certain age group.
As well as providing gifts for children, Angel Trees helps to provide a turkey or ham for the families involved as well as Senior Citizens relying on a fixed income. The turkeys and hams are provided through donations. Care and Share, the county homeless shelter and food bank, helps with this by providing items such as stuffing.
The work is done largely by volunteers and donations as the CEC is given no budget to help provide better Christmases.
“Each year the program serves, depending on the year, 850 to maybe 1,200 kids each year and from 350 to 500 families,” Pam Branin, Associate Director of the CEC and Coordinator of the Angel Trees Project, said. “It’s a big program and we love it when we get good support from SUU.”
Not just any family receives gifts or meals. In order to qualify for the program they only have to apply online at the Community Engagement Center website. Main requirements include being residents of Iron County and falling at 150 percent or less of the poverty level.
A few trees will be located on campus: one is in the Sharwan Smith Student Center, another is in the library and there are more in other locations. Students are encouraged to take an angel and participate even if it is a small amount.
The program is important as it provides for children and families at Christmastime. It is also an opportunity for students and faculty members at SUU and community members to give back to the community, even if it’s a donation as small as $1.
“It’s important when you’re a kid that you go back to school and are able to be a part of that ‘What did you get for Christmas?’ conversation,” said Branin. “I think it’s just as valuable for those of us who are able to help whether it’s through a donation of time, or a donation of money, or a donation of a gift item that we, as members of the community who are able, step up and do so for those people in our community who are maybe in a tight spot. I think it’s valuable for both ends.”
There are many ways to help with the Angel Trees Program. Money donations, however small or large they may be, are accepted online at the CEC website. Visit the Community Engagement Center at 417 W. 200 S. or pick up an Angel, which has instructions on the back, from any tree for more information.