SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH — This holiday season, Salt Lake County is once again taking gift donations for older people who are stuck at home or live alone.
This year, the annual Giving Tree program will help a record 400 people, and donors will be able to meet the needs and wishes of older people from all over the county. Salt Lake County Aging & Adult Services and AARP Utah work together to run the Giving Tree, which has been a county tradition for decades.
“The winter holidays are often a time when older people who live alone feel lonely,” said Paul Leggett, director of the agency. “AAS wants to make this holiday season special, and we can only do that with the help of generous people in the community. We appreciate AARP Utah’s help and the help of everyone else who makes the Giving Tree possible.”
The Giving Tree is in the atrium of the south building of the Salt Lake County Government Center at 2001 S. State. It is lit up and has a lot of names and things people want. Donors can take a name off the tree and have until December 9 to bring the items asked for back to AAS. After that, case workers will deliver the gifts and help the recipients open them.
A spokeswoman for the county agency, Afton January, said that this is the only holiday gift that many older adults will get this year.
“We encourage people in the community to come to look at those names and requests and see if there’s something that moves them and makes them want to give a gift to one of these older adults in our community,” she said. “We have customers who need help. At this time of year, there are people in our community who want to do a little bit of charity work. One of the most fun ways to do this is to just give a gift to someone in need.”
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January said that a lot of AAS’s clients have low incomes and that a lot of the requests for gifts are for small household items.
“It’s usually things for people with low incomes or things that can break your budget if you only buy them once every three or four months,” she said. “Things like cleaning supplies, hygiene products, and other things like that.” “It can be fun to look at those requests and think, ‘Oh, this one really speaks to me.'”
Gift cards to grocery stores, supplies for pets, and winter hats and gloves are among the things people want. Several of the requests are for things like romance novels, coloring books, or pots and pans. These are things that can keep people busy all winter long.
This year, January said, she picked the name of 74-year-old Melvin, who asked for a Smith’s gift card so he can go to the grocery store.
She said, “There are lots of ways to give fun and exciting gifts, or simple gift card requests, which I think are still very meaningful.”
As part of the gift-giving, AARP Utah is working with volunteers to give AAS clients emergency preparedness supplies and handwritten holiday cards.
January said, “We always talk about the season of giving.” “We really try to keep that in mind with the Giving Tree and make the whole thing worthwhile for everyone.”