The Christian Center’s Operation Hope deemed a success
The Christian Center’s 2014 Operation Hope program was a success.
The nonprofit organization received more than 6,000 new-toy donations that were given to more than 1,400 children from less-fortunate families in Summit and Wasatch Counties during the Christmas season, said Executive Director Rob Harter.
"The special thing about this year was our toy store," Harter said during an interview with The Park Record. "We provided parents an empowerment opportunity to select the exact gifts they wanted to give their children."
The toy store was set up on the Christian Center’s second floor and all the toys that the families requested were set up in a store-like manner.
"The parents came and picked out the toy or toys their children wanted," Harter said. "We wanted to help the parents feel empowered so when their children opened the toys up on Christmas, the parents felt that feeling of accomplishment that they were the ones who selected the toys and that made it really special."
Parents took home at least four gifts per family.
"Even then, we had extra toys, so we were able to ask families who were on the waiting list to come in," Harter said.
After accommodating the waiting list, the Christian Center still had remaining toys.
"We donated the remainder of the gifts to Valley Mental Health and other places in town, so they would go to someone who wanted them," Harter said.
In addition, the Christian Center took toys out to the Goshute Reservation in Western Utah.
"We wanted to thank Capital Church in Salt Lake City, who partnered with us for the Goshute outreach," Harter said. "Their youth group sponsored these children and volunteered to wrap all the gifts. So it was special to have a young generation participate in a project like this."
Volunteers took a road trip to the reservation on Dec. 18.
"They had a special school program and we went in and had a volunteer Santa Claus hand out the gifts," Harter said. "Every child on the reservation received a gift, that was so special, because the reservation is so isolated from any place."
It’s located an hour away from Wendover, which is the closest town, according to Harter.
"It’s a low-income community and people don’t want to use up their gasoline unless they really have to," he said. "So to bring Christmas to them was an amazing experience and they are always so thankful that we can do this."
Every year, Harter is amazed at the generosity of the Park City community when it comes to Operation Hope.
"We started the toy drive in mid November and to receive all of these donations in one month is just incredible," he said.
Operation Hope would not be a success if it wasn’t for the volunteers, according to Harter.
"We had at least 120 volunteers who helped with the toy store here and they collectively put in 476 hours," he said.
One of the largest groups that not only donated items, but also gave their time, was the Park City Ward from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"We partner with them all the time, and they are always so generous when they work with us," he said.
With Operation Hope in the books, the Christian Center’s next big events will be the free Tuesday-night dinners for the seasonal workers that come to Park City during the winter.
The dinners will be held each Tuesday, starting on Jan. 6, Harter said.
"They are all open and free to seasonal workers. and the meals are typically provided by people in the community," Harter said. "Not only do we eat, we also hand our prizes and do karaoke. It’s a way to give the workers an opportunity to get to know each other."
There is no sign up required for the Tuesday-night dinners.
"All they have to do is show up," Harter said. "The dinners start at 6 p.m. and run every Tuesday all winter long."
For more information about Operation Hope or the Tuesday night dinners, visit http://www.ccopc.org.
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Holy Cross Ministries will use its high-impact Women’s Giving Fund grant to expand bilingual therapy services to women and children who are victims of domestic violence.