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Donated gifts provide for ‘real need’

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Presents are piling up around a tree and Santa Claus is expected early in Park City.

"Santa Claus has been here in the past," said Tim Dahlin, director of the Christian Center of Park City. "And our front room was literally filled with bags and bags of toys."

The center has teamed with Peace House officials to provide about 800 gifts St. Nick will give to needy kids Dec. 18.

"It’s good to work together so the left hand knows what the right hand is doing," Dahlin said. "We need people who are willing to take a name or take a family."

He is asking people to bring wrapped gifts to the center at 1100 Iron Horse Drive for children up to age 14 before Dec. 14.

"It’s like Sub for Santa," Dahlin said, adding that the Christian Center consolidated several holiday gift drives into one.

The donations can be made to individual children or entire families.

"Park City is comprised of all economic levels and sometimes we forget about those who are deserving and need a little helping hand," Peace House office manager Jean Jensen said.

Signing up to receive information about children that includes sex, age and size makes gift buying easier, Dahlin explained.

With the Holiday Helpers program Peace House officials expect to collect about 300 gifts.

"The purpose of the Holiday Helpers is to provide Christmas for women who are in the shelter," Jensen said, adding that the recipients have been victims of domestic violence. "There are also people who may not be able to come to the shelter."

About 90 percent of Peace House clients are women with families, Jensen said.

"Our focus is not Toys for Tots," she said, adding that people are encouraged to give coats, boots and other winter clothing. "Tennis shoes, in the winter, do not cut it."

Groups like Valley Mental Health, Head Start and school counselors help recommend who should receive the presents.

"About 500 names are what we have," Dahlin said. "We’re also working with local churches."

The program is in its 5th year and must not create a sense of entitlement among its beneficiaries, he said.

"What we’re trying to do is to avoid a sense of entitlement and establish a response to real need," Dahlin said.

Most people the program serves are Latinos who live in Summit County, Dahlin said.

"They have one or two families, or three families, in an apartment," he lamented. "I would guess that probably three quarters would be from the Latino community."

For each name, Dahlin suggests buying two gifts for less than $25.

"We’ve always met the goal," he beamed. "There have been surprise windfalls when we are running out of gifts. It’s an expression of the community’s love for [the children.]"

Contact the Christian Center at 649-2260 for information about donating.


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