Imagine this, you’re a kid again, and it’s Christmas morning. You wake up excited knowing Santa left you presents under the tree. It’s going to be a fantastic day with family and new toys. Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality for all kids. With the global pandemic affecting the economy significantly, there’s an immense need for services like Sub for Santa at United Way. Having been a kid that received some fantastic Christmas mornings from similar organizations, I know how big of an impact it can have.
Since I was 19, I’ve participated in Angel Tree programs to provide new clothing and toys for children of families in need. I love the process of picking out toys for kids. I imagine their excitement on Christmas morning when they open the present picked just for them. I know they’ll love it because I remember that feeling growing up. Underbelly believes that giving back to your community is incredibly important. Sub for Santa perfectly aligned with that mission, so when I pitched the idea the leadership team was on board.
I was able to spearhead this new project. The first step was to figure out what the process entailed. I reached out to United Way of Utah County with tons of questions, and they were wonderfully helpful. The next step was to raise the money. We set the goal to provide Christmas for five kids, and Underbelly promised to match any funds donated by our team. I set a deadline of December 10th to have kids assigned to us and go shopping the following week. By the morning of the 10th, I had only raised $80. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t reach our goal.
Our Studio Manager had the great idea of selling additional raffle tickets to raise money at our winter company retreat. It was monumentally successful - we surpassed our goal and raised enough money to provide five kids with Christmas and wrapping paper for 13 kids!
After blowing our goal out of the water, I felt the Christmas magic. The spirit of giving that everyone talks about this time of year. I sent off our request for our 13 kids, and United Way of Utah County had them to me by Wednesday. The third step was to go shopping.
United Way of Utah County provides a list for each child, including their clothing and shoe sizes, favorite colors, book ideas, and toy ideas. Having this information made the process so much easier than having to guess what they might like or need. I rallied the troops, and we got to work. Children’s clothing and shoe sizing was foreign to us, but some nice moms in the store were more than happy to help. We had our lists, we checked them twice, every kid was getting what they needed; we made sure of it.
There’s something extraordinary about being able to deliver handpicked presents. My heart was so full of love and excitement. Each family was tremendously grateful for this act of service. It lifted a weight off their shoulders to know their kids would have presents under the tree this year. One of the families even made us a Christmas card. I only cried a little over how cute it was.
I am so grateful I could lead the charge on this project. The problems of the world can feel insurmountable most days. It can feel impossible to make a difference, but I believe that we can make considerable changes in the world if we all do a little. If each person gives a little, we can achieve things like this: “Last year over 5,440 children from 1,697 families were served by generous community sponsors” (United Way of Utah County). Many hands make the work light, and together we can change the world. Underbelly changed 13 kids' lives this year, and I can’t wait for next year to do it all over again!