Volunteers Give a Bleep for veterans on Christmas
What: Giving a Bleep: Give Your Heart, Not Your Wallet
When: All day on Wednedsay, Dec. 25
Where: William E. Christoffersen Salt Lake Veterans Home, 700 Foothill Drive, Salt Lake City
Park City’s Giving a Bleep, known for its fall musical comedy farce that raises money for local nonprofits, will continue to spread Christmas cheer to residents of the William E. Christoffersen Salt Lake Veterans Home this season.
Everyone is invited to stop at the home, located across the street from the Salt Lake Veterans Hospital at 700 Foothill Drive, anytime on Christmas day Wednesday, Dec. 25.
The tradition, known as Give Your Hearts, Not Your Wallet, started seven years ago when Giving a Bleep director Annette Velarde decided to do something more personal than just writing checks to various organizations.
“We just spend a few minutes to a few hours with these veterans who either can’t leave the facility or don’t have anyone to spend the holiday with,” Velarde said. “Although the veteran’s home houses nearly 90 residents, there are usually around 40 who don’t have family nearby or aren’t healthy enough to be checked out.”
There isn’t any big-time production, instead, participants usually converse or watch TV with the veterans, according to Velarde.
“We leave it up to each person to decide when they can go visit the veterans,” she said. “They can just check in at the front desk and tell them they are from the Giving a Bleep group.”
Throughout the years, some of the Giving a Bleep volunteers have created friendships with some of the residents during these Christmas visits, she said.
“I have at least one conversation that will change how I look at my own life,” Velarde said. “There was one gentleman that I actually visited once a month, until he passed away a couple of years ago.”
Some of the vets in the home have cognitive conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s, she said.
Velarde’s son, Ruli, came up with an idea of how to reach those who reside in the home’s memory care unit. He puts together music playlists of songs that were popular during the years they served in the military.
“He finds songs from the 1940s and puts them on his iPod for World War II veterans, and then he finds songs that were popular in the late 1960s and 1970s for (Vietnam veterans),” she said. “Ruli is always moved when he sees the veterans come alive and sing along to the songs.”
Over the years, Velarde and the Giving a Bleep volunteers have also created friendships with the facility’s staff.
“They always do such a great job with the veterans,” she said. “We always make it a point to keep them in mind when we visit, as well.”
Velarde is grateful for Giving a Bleep’s opportunity to continue these holiday visits.
“Each year we get new volunteers who go with us, and we have those who have been with us from the beginning,” she said. “One of the most precious commodities we have is our spare time, and what better day to give our time than on Christmas. This is one way people, like you and me who aren’t wealthy, can practice a little philanthropy.”
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Jonathan Kolon will honor Park City and mark the trials the country has gone through with COVID-19 when he releases his new song “This Highway Ends” on April 30.