SALT LAKE CITY — As the holiday season approaches, several local groups have been gearing up to provide for those less fortunate. The participation of local Catholics in their efforts can make all the difference, they say.
“I encourage all the faithful of the Diocese of Salt Lake City to express the love of God to those in need. It is very important to remind ourselves of the basic principle of Christian giving especially during the holiday season; that is, to manifest the love of God for us in Christ by sharing it with one another,” Bishop Oscar A. Solis said. “In his divine design, God created our heart not as a storage bin but a distribution center of his graces and blessings. So be generous and be the antidote against the prevailing culture of global indifference and insensitivity to the plight and suffering of our poor brothers and sisters.”
There are many opportunities to help throughout the state.
Catholic Community Services of Northern Utah is collecting donations for their holiday baskets. Each basket is filled with a turkey or ham and all the fixings to create a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal.
“Everyone should be able to celebrate a wonderful meal with their family at the holidays,” CCS Northern Utah Director Maresha Bosgieter said. She estimates CCS feeds about 1,300 families each holiday and collects about 2,500 to 3,000 turkeys and hams each year. CCS also delivers turkey roasts and the fixings to homebound seniors in the area.
“For a lot of our families when it’s a struggle to put regular food on the table and pay their bills, it’s a little out of their reach to have the money to purchase the holiday meals and the little extras the rest of us enjoy,” Bosgieter said. “This provides them with the ability to celebrate a wonderful meal.”
Donations can be dropped off at the CCS Northern Utah warehouse, 2504 F Ave., Ogden. Hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday. Cash donations may be made online at https://ccsnorthernutah.org/donate; indicate in the notes that the donation is for holiday baskets.
Homeless Resource Centers
CCS now operates the Gail Miller Resource Center, one of three new homeless shelters, at 242 Paramount Ave, SLC. The two other centers are the Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center, 131 East 700 South, and an as yet unnamed men’s center at 3380 South 1000 West that is expected to open later this month. Their clients, both male and female, need warm clothing, socks, hats, gloves, shoes, boots, coats, hygiene items, pajamas/sweats, sleeping bags, twin-sized sheets, water bottles and non-perishable food items and snacks. Donations may be dropped off at the centers during business hours.
Gift of the Drummer
Each year Catholic Community Services in Salt Lake City provides homeless and refugee families with warm clothing and holiday gifts through its Gift of the Drummer program.
Donors are assigned as many children as they would like and are given information on the child’s age, gender, sizes and wish list. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CCS asks that the gifts be delivered to them by the first week of December so that volunteers have time to inventory, wrap, and deliver them before Christmas. CCS has been conducting this program for more than 30 years; each year about 1,000 children receive the gifts.
Coats for Kids
This month Knights of Columbus councils across the state will be ensuring many Utah children have new coats to keep them warm this winter. Three major distributions are planned; the first will be Saturday, Nov. 2 at 8 a.m. at St. Marguerite Catholic Church in Tooele. The Ogden distribution will be the following Saturday, Nov. 9 at 8 a.m. at the Ogden CCS, at 2504 F Ave. In Salt Lake City, coats will be given out Saturday, Nov. 23 at 11 a.m. at Catholic Community Services’ St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall/Weigand Homeless Resource Center, 437 West 200 South. Coats may also be distributed regionally through other councils across the state.
Last year the Utah Knights of Columbus donated more than 1,200 new coats at CCS sites.
“We are setting our goal higher this year. Utah’s children need your help, and I appreciate it. What is your wish, Utah — can we do 1,500 coats this year?” Program Director Ryan Graveley asked.
To donate, send a check to Ryan Graveley at 7658 W. Washington Rd., Magna, UT 84044 or contact your local Knights of Columbus council for information.
Holiday Giving Trees
Many parishes in the diocese have holiday giving trees that are put in place at the start of the Advent season. For example, beginning about five weeks before Christmas, the tree in the vestibule of the Cathedral of the Madeleine is filled with envelopes that contain requests for items for the homeless who frequent the Good Samaritan program. Those requests include warm socks, gloves, hats and clothing items. Parishioners may choose an envelope and return the items directly to the vestibule until shortly after Christmas.