Christian Center seeks toy donations for Operation Hope
Thursday is Thanksgiving, a time when people give thanks for what they have, and the kick off to the holiday season.
Unfortunately, the families of more than 1,400 children in Summit and Wasatch counties have very little and haven’t the means this holiday season to buy Christmas gifts.
For the past 12 years, the Christian Center of Park City has helped families in this situation with Operation Hope.
Operation Hope originally started out like a Sub-for-Santa program, where people in the community would sponsor a family and donate toys.
That changed two years ago, when the Christian Center decided to set things up in a toy-store format, said Jenny Mauer, director of programs and volunteers at the Christian Center of Park City.
"The reason why we did that was to help empower the parents of the families who participate in the program," Mauer said. "The toy store format allows them to pick out the gifts for their children themselves. They can browse the toys and pick out the ones that are on their list."
The format also utilized the donations more efficiently.
"The parents are able to pick the gift they want to give to their children and that made them more excited to participate," Mauer said. "That also ensured the gift the child received was more than likely a gift they really wanted."
That, in itself, helped the families feel better.
"Many of these families don’t want their children to know the family is hurting for money or that the parents aren’t getting as many shifts as they need at work," Mauer said. "Some families don’t want their children to know one or both of their parents have lost their jobs.
"Also, some of the parents have said this format doesn’t feel like a handout," she said. "The parents can keep the gifts a surprise until their children open them on Christmas morning."
To ensure the success of Operation Hope, which will be held on Dec. 15 and 16, the Christian Center of Park City is asking for new toy donations for children ages 0 to 16.
There are many ways people can donate, Mauer said.
"One way is to drop the toys off in donation boxes," she said. "We’ve teamed up with Seth Hill, the owner of Downstairs, and placed these boxes around town."
These bins are located at the following areas:
Key Bank, 1555 Snow Creek Dr.
Another way that the Christian Center suggests is through holiday parties.
"We’ve had people throw parties and ask their guests to bring toys, clothing and books," Mauer said.
Then there’s the traditional way of sponsoring an individual child.
"People can come into the Christian Center or contact me, and I’ll send them the gender and age of the child and that will be a way for people to guide their shopping," Mauer said.
The donation deadline is Friday, Dec. 11.
"That’s when we need all the upwrapped gifts in," Mauer said. "That will give us two days to sort, see what we have and organize the items before the parents come to pick the toys out."
In addition to the toy drive, the Christian Center seeks volunteers to help with the toy store event.
"That whole week before the toy store opens, we’ll offer different volunteer opportunities," Mauer said. "We’ll post an online sign up and anyone who wants can sign up."
Being a volunteer is a great way to get into the holiday spirit, according to Mauer.
"I received an email from a person who volunteered last year and she wrote to say that she had ‘recentered’ her own life after volunteering and that she is bringing her husband this year because, she said, this is the greatest gift that they can give to each other," Mauer said. "I think of the extent of who Operation Hope impacts from the donors to the families to the volunteers. It’s a beautiful program and we’re honored we can facilitate it."
The Christian Center of Park City seeks toy donations for its annual Operation Hope program that will be held Dec. 15 and 16. For more information, visit http://www.ccofpc.org.
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