Spreading joy through stockings for the homeless youth
Sitting at home with her 2-year-old son two years ago, Megan Betty Morin realized that she was doing nothing to help anyone besides her family during the holiday season. It was Dec. 1, but she vowed to make a difference in someone’s life by Christmas.
Morin, who owns the Mirror Lake Diner in Kamas, came up with the idea to donate stockings to the Volunteers of America Homeless Youth Center, which serves about 800 homeless individuals in Salt Lake City. She ended up preparing and giving about 75 full stockings and last year upped the amount to 150. This year, thanks to donations from Bombas socks and Lululemon, she is hoping to more than double that number.
When Morin started the drive, she had no idea it would expand so quickly. She had two weeks to collect socks, along with toiletries and treats to go in them, so she made an event on Facebook and told everyone she could in order to drum up interest.
“People just started sending me money and dropping stuff off at the diner that my husband and I own,” she said. “It just all of a sudden came to fruition.”
Morin said she decided to give to homeless youth because they often get overlooked during the holiday season.
“I feel like families at the holidays get a lot of attention,” she said. “There are a lot of really cool things that happen for little kids and for families, but what if you don’t have a family?”
Plus, one of Morin’s friends suggested the center when he heard she was looking for a group of people to help. She opted for stockings because, as a child in school, she made them for Native American reservations in the Four Corners area.
After a successful first two years, she decided to push herself and set a higher goal. She reached out to the sock company Bombas, since they donate one pair of socks to a homeless individual for each pair purchased. A couple months later, they sent 500 socks. She also received 500 reusable bags from Lululemon and 500 hand warmers from Kamas Foodtown.
Morin is now seeking donations for items to go inside the bags, such as nail grooming kits, shampoo, conditioner, lotion and soap. But, she also wants to donate “frivolous” items as well, such as treats like candy canes and chocolate. .
“So that it feels like people are actually trying to do something that someone hasn’t asked for, because that’s what a gift is,” she said. “A gift is something that you don’t expect, that might be something a little bit different than your normal experience.”
Jaymie Sorenson, director of volunteer services at the Homeless Youth Center, said the people who utilize the center’s services, who range in age from 15 to 22, were surprised last year when they received stockings since they usually did not receive them as children.
“They’re joyful and they are thankful,” she said. “It shows that the community supports them, and there’ nothing being asked in return.”
Morin said part of the reason she loves doing the stocking drive each year is because it brings a community together and helps those who deserve a gift.
“The community is coming together to do something kind,” she said. “I can’t imagine being 15 and not having a Christmas present. I want people to know that no matter what, they’re loved. No matter what situation they’re coming from, because they are a part of the human race, someone loves them and someone cares about them enough to do something a little bit out of the ordinary.”
Morin is accepting donations until Dec. 11 and will be preparing the gifts on Dec. 16 at the Francis City Building from 2 to 5 p.m. Everyone is welcome to help, and while an RSVP is not necessary, people can RSVP on the Facebook page Stockings For Homeless Youth. A full list of requested items is on the Facebook page. Morin will purchase missing items with any money she receives. People can drop off donations at the Mirror Lake Diner and High Point Coffee in West Valley. She will be delivering the gifts on Dec. 19.
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Park City High School students have had to adjust to remote learning once more after a spike in coronavirus cases forced the school to temporarily close its doors.