Holiday service opportunities abound

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    By Stephanie Schaerr

    Though finals week looms just a few days away, more students are taking a break from their studies to look for service opportunities to get into the Christmas spirit.

    ?Sometimes the greatest gifts come from giving rather than receiving,? said Stephanie Talbot, United Way volunteer specialist for Utah County. ?It?s fun for people to see how much they have, and serving increases their gratitude for what they do have.?

    United Way of Utah County is one place where volunteers can get ideas. The organization sponsors holiday activities ranging from food and toy donations to caroling at local nursing homes. Anyone with the desire to serve up some holiday cheer can take the name of a child off a tree at any ShopKo, buy the present listed and give it to United Way for the organizations Angel Tree program. The organization also sponsors a Christmas dinner donation program, where groups can donate food to the Community Action Regional Food Bank, which distributes the food to families in Utah County.

    Recent disasters like hurricanes in the Gulf Coast and tsunamis in Asia have made more people think about serving, said Katie Hoshino, United Way communications manager.

    ?People see these things going on in the world and it makes them more aware of people in their own communities who need help,? she said.

    At the BYU Center for Service and Learning, students are more concerned with helping each other with finals. Katie Cannon, an office assistant at the service center and a history teaching major from California, said the holiday break makes it difficult for the center to organize lots of holiday service, but more students are volunteering to help tutor others for finals and projects.

    As part of the United Way?s Sub for Santa program, BYU?s division of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers has visited area businesses that have donated things like bicycles, helicopter rides and jewelry and plans to auction off the items to raise money for gifts. Club president Jimmy Hales, an engineering major from Henderson Nev., said the event has been going on for 20 years, but BYU may not allow them to hold it on campus anymore because clubs are not supposed to raise money.

    ?We?re working on that right now,? he said. ?If it happens, it?s going to be an awesome event.?

    Hales said the club is working with the Dean of Students to find a way to allow the auction to proceed.

    The International Language Program, which sends volunteers to countries like Russia and Japan, decided to do an event closer to home this holiday season. The organization is planning a service night Friday to stuff stockings for children at the House of Hope, a battered women?s shelter in Provo. Clay Elder, volunteer relations representative for the program, said the organization is committed to service all over the world, but they wanted to do something in their own community. Working with women?s shelters is often difficult for the privacy issues involved, but Elder said House of Hope was excited for the help. He said he hopes to make stockings for about 50 children.

    ?Somehow we got really attached,? Elder said. ?We got really involved.?

    Service Opportunities in Provo and Orem:

    • Donate Holiday Dinners

      Community Action Regional Food Bank

      Contact: Tamy at 373-8200 ext. 207

    • Volunteer at Residences

      Utah State Hospital

      Utah State Developmental Center

      Juvenile Justice Services

      House of Hope

      Alpine House

      Contact: United Way Volunteer Center 374-8108

    • Make Holiday Decorations

      Contact: United Way Volunteer Center 374-8108

    • Sub for Santa

      356-6300

      www.unitedwayuc.org/subforsanta

    • Angel Trees

      Shopko Stores

    • Deliver Christmas Presents

      Contact: Stephanie at United Way 374-8108

    • Stuff Stockings for Children

      International Language Program

      Friday, Dec. 9, 2005

      6:00 ? 9:00 p.m.

      75 South 200 East Provo

    • Sub for Santa Auction

      BYU American Institute of Chemical Engineers

      Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005

    Sources: United Way of Utah County, ILP and AICHE

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