January 2015 Newsletter

Utahns hit home run for children in need this holiday season

A young boy staying at one of our emergency shelters butters a cookie with festive frosting at a holiday event at Hotel Monaco.

A young boy staying at one of our emergency shelters butters a cookie with festive frosting at a holiday event at Hotel Monaco.

The holidays swept by in a flurry, bringing joy and magic to children across the state. Through the generous support of our amazing donors, The Christmas Box International served more children in December 2014 than ever before providing Christmas morning to more than 3,325 local youth. In 2013, that number was 1,156 children and teens.

“Because of the generous community support this year, we were able to expand our reach beyond our imagining,” said Direct Services Director Sherri Engar for The Christmas Box International. “It was truly an amazing Christmas. The donors just kept appearing.”

Through our holiday giving program, Project Elf, The Christmas Box International is able to provide three gifts to a child in need. For roughly $30 per gift, a donor is able to provide Christmas morning for one child.

In Salt Lake County, 653 children were served, and an additional 659 received support in Weber and Davis counties. In Utah County, we grew our outreach exponentially from the 2013 holiday season, serving a total of 2,135 children and teens.  And in Southern Utah, 76 youth received a Christmas morning. Children served included those staying at our emergency children’s shelters and partnering group homes, youth receiving in-home services from state and county organizations, children staying in foster homes, youth being raised by relatives and teens who aged out of foster care.

The incredible outpouring of support came in all forms from across the state. One mother whose child passed away in an accident honored her son’s memory by giving back to children who would be his age today. She heard about The Christmas Box International and came by loaded with plenty of gifts for our kids. America First Credit Union and the Ogden Mustangs hockey team encouraged fans to bring Pillow Pets to a game, throwing the stuffed animals onto the ice at halftime to be collected for the children.

As an annual tradition, Hotel Monaco provided a Christmas dinner complete with turkey, potatoes and pie for more than 50 youth in attendance. Young children and teens alike received a new, festive outfit and were greeted as honored guests for the night. Santa even stopped by to say hello and hand out candy canes.

Zionsbancorp held a holiday party complete with presents and a small mountain of food for teens who aged out of foster care. The event was a part of The Mentor Project, our newest program that serves youth as they transition into adult life on their own by providing mentors and access to community resources.  Zions hosted the event as a way to support this vulnerable population, and in a partnership with Green River Capital the two organizations also provided this population’s Christmas morning.

From schools to church groups, businesses to individuals, this past holiday season ensured our motto: every child deserves a childhood. Thank you to ALL of our supporters, our cheerleaders and champions who tirelessly work to better the lives of the children we serve. We could never do it without YOU!

Winter Retreat spurs good times for

The Mentor Project youth

Teens get ready for a green light at the Boondocks go-kart track.

Teens get ready for a green light at the Boondocks go-kart track.

The youth served through the Lifestart Mentor Project tried their hand as go-kart drivers and laser tag gun slingers, joining staff and volunteers for the Mentor Project Winter Retreat. The annual event serves youth who have aged out of foster care, providing a fun day of games, free food and fun.

This year, the youth were given unlimited passes to Boondocks Family Fun Center where mini-golf, laser tag, arcade games and all-you-can-eat pizza awaited them. Even the cold weather was not stopping them from testing out their driving skills on the go-kart track.

For youth who aged out of foster care on to adult life on their own, community events such as the Winter Retreat offer a place where these teens can be among peers and adults who understand the foster care system and the process of aging out. Each year in Utah, an estimated 200 teens will age out of foster care, starting a life outside the familiarity of state custody.

From financial budgeting classes to a fun retreat, the Lifestart Mentor Project offers support to this vulnerable population year-round through providing volunteer mentors, assistance in accessing housing, employment and educational opportunities and community events.

Risks young people who have aged out of foster care face without a permanent family:

  • 12-30% struggle with homelessness
  • 40-63% will not complete high school
  • 25-55% are unemployed and those employed had average earnings below poverty level
  • 30-62% have trouble accessing health care due to inadequate finances or lack of insurance
  • 32-40% are forced to rely on some form of public assistance
  • 31-42% will be arrested
  • 18-26% will be incarcerated
  • 40-60% of the young women will be pregnant within 12-18 months of leaving foster care

*National statistics provided by multiple surveys and studies

According to Direct Services Director Sherri Engar, these statistics scratch the surface of the true challenges faced by the population served by The Mentor Project. In many instances, these statistics may not show the true need for support to teens aging out of foster care.

Volunteer Opportunities

Calling all volunteers! We are always looking for help with our emergency children’s shelters and programs at The Christmas Box International. That could mean sorting donations, working directly with the children who come into care at The Christmas Box Houses or even helping with an upcoming event. Here’s a quick list of some of our top needs:

  • Mentors willing to work one-on-one with youth who have aged out of foster care as part of our newest program, The Mentor Project
  • Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout and Girl Scout Gold Award projects to help with collecting needed items through a donation drive or improvements for our emergency children’s shelters
  • One-time volunteer groups to decorate the Ogden and Salt Lake Christmas Box House trees with ornaments fitting monthly themes
  • Support a fundraiser by working with the community to promote events, collect items for silent auctions and work closely with staff in planning events as an event committee member
  • Long-term volunteers for the Ogden Christmas Box House to work with the children and teens entering the emergency children’s shelter

To sign up as a volunteer or to learn more, visit us at www.thechristmasboxhouse.org/volunteer.

Love Utah Give Utah coming March 26th

What is Love Utah Give Utah?

Love Utah Give Utah is one day where Utahns gather as an online community to support their local nonprofits, whether it is a business donating a matching grant of $1,000 or an individual giving $10. Love Utah Give Utah is a grassroots effort hosted by the Community Foundation of Utah to get our community involved and giving back to their local nonprofits! With the click of a mouse, you can join us in making a difference.

Why Should I Give?

Nationwide, these online “day of giving” events are reaching wider audience for local nonprofits and raising thousands of dollars in a single day. By getting involved, you are joining a community of donors who are giving back to organizations in their own backyard. Whether you are helping a child who is a victim of abuse, assisting a nearby animal shelter or supporting the arts, YOU make local charity possible.

When is the event?

On Thursday March 26th, online from midnight to midnight. We need help to get the word out, because great things happen when we ALL work together!

Where do I go to give?

Online! The donation process takes only five minutes, and you can even register today to have your donation automatically processed on March 26th. It’s that easy.

How to Donate:

  • Between now and March 26th, go to the web address www.loveutgiveut.razoo.com/Christmas-Box
  • On the right-hand side, a list of donation options is available
  • Select an option or type in an amount and click “DONATE”
  • Enter your credit card information and click “DONATE NOW”
  • That’s it! You are all done!

Register today for The Village Run 4th Annual 5K

Registration is now open! Join The Christmas Box International in Orem, UT on March 28th for The Village Run 4th Annual 5K. Register before Jan. 30th and receive a $5 discount at registration checkout.

The event is sponsored by The Christmas Box International in partnership with the Department of Child and Family Services to bring awareness to the needs of Utah's older youth in foster care. Proceeds will go to The Christmas Box International's Lifestart Initiative, which supports teens as they age out of foster care onto adult life on their own.

For hundreds of teens across the state, the Lifestart Initiative provides a crucial step toward independence. The Lifestart Box move-in kits stock the first apartments of teens aging out of foster care. From toilet paper to bed sheets to pots and pans, the Lifestart Initiative gathers basic needs items for this vulnerable population.  Funds will also be used for activities and learning opportunities for these youth.

Along with raising funds for Lifestart, the race event is also an opportunity to bring foster families and biological parents together. Partners include several community organizations including the Utah Foster Care Foundation, Addicts II Athletes and Altra.

The run will be held on Saturday, March 28th at Lakeridge Junior High School located at 951 S. 400 West in Orem, UT. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. Youth in the foster care program run for free. The run is a family-friendly event open to the community, and will include a silent auction, a children's carnival and a Children's 1K Run/Walk.

Cost is $20 per individual and includes a beanie and race tag. To register: www.thechristmasboxhouse.org/villagerun.

For more information, call 801-747-2201 or email Development Coordinator Gina Barker at gina@thechristmasboxhouse.org.