The holidays are a time people typically think about thankfulness and gratitude. Families come together to spend time with one another and exchange gifts. The holidays are also a time for communities to come together and help those in need.
Utah is no stranger to community service. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), Utah is at the top of the list when it comes to the percentage of residents who volunteer. The CNCS states that in 2015, 43.2% of residents volunteer, meaning that 844,023 residents in Utah volunteer.
Citizens in Morgan and Weber counties are part of that number. Morgan County resident Kristi Orn first got involved with service when started working with the Park Family Church. The group started when pastor Jesse Kemp started feeding homeless residents at Ogden Park in 2005.
“They’ve come to a bad place in their lives and they feel like they don’t have a way out,” Kemp stated on a video on the Park Family Church website. “We don’t have a lot of churches reaching out, because there’s no money in it,” he added. The Park Family Church serves food every Sunday and serves a large meal every year for Christmas. Volunteers can donate food or donate their time to help serve food.
Since Orn was involved with the Park Family Church, she has been involved in different service projects. She has worked with different groups to provide “blessing bags” to those in need. Blessing bags usually include clothing or hygiene items, or for kids they’ll include coloring books and small toys.
She’s currently working on making blessing bags again to give to over 200 people at this year’s Christmas dinner with the Park Family Church. She had help from many people looking to spread holiday cheer, including a local boy wanting to complete an Eagle Scout project. He took on the bags for men, and Orn took on the bags for women and children. Orn thought of something to give the kids for Christmas, and quilts was one of the first things that came to mind.
“I love making quilts,” she said. Soon after, Tammy Babbit, a community member participating in the Light the World project, called to see how she could help contribute as well. Because members from this group got involved, there are over 40 handmade quilts waiting to be given to kids on Christmas day along with their blessing bag. “I was nervous thinking about how I was going to pull off all these quilts for the kids, but these ladies have really stepped up,” she said. Social media has helped spread the word as well. Community members have donated clothes, hats, and many other useful items to give to families in need.
Along with the women she has worked with, anonymous donors have also made contributions. Orn said she has received quilts that were left at her doorstep, and she has received donations from people as far as Box Elder county. “That’s been the best thing,” Orn said. “Is seeing the community come together and make it happen.”