Holiday Gift Box program brings Christmas to Utahns with intellectual disabilities
Alan Neves, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Association for Intellectual Disabilities wants to make sure low-income people with intellectual disabilities are not forgotten this Christmas.
"A lot of them are on fixed incomes, low incomes or Social Security," said association manager Debbie Wyan.
This time of year, the association receives 50 new applications for the Holiday Gift Box program every day, and the program keeps expanding to meet the growing need.
Inside both of the association's Salt Lake City and Kearns locations, people can see the faces of hundreds of Utah's intellectually disabled men, women and children. Colorful ornaments display the pictures and wish lists of more than 1,100 people from across the state.
Wyan shared of few of the wish lists of the recipients who still need to be adopted, like Ray.
"His age is 33. His intellectual age is 7," Wyan said. Ray is blind, and all he wants for Christmas are basic needs and simple surprises.
"He likes games with sounds," she said. "He enjoys listening to DVDs even though he can't see."
For many, inexpensive gifts like pants, socks and shoes will be the only presents they receive.
Recipients range in age from 3 months old to 97 years old. Despite their ages, they have the intellectual capacities of kids and see Christmas through those eyes.
"It might seem small to some people," Wyan said, "but it actually means a lot to them to be able to receive something like that for Christmas."
The people in need have autism, Down syndrome and traumatic brain injuries. Demand has grown through greater community awareness, and so has the support.
"In the past, we've actually seen the community become really generous," Wyan said. "It means a lot to them."
To help out, anybody can pick up an ornament at the Salt Lake City office, 1453 S. Major St., or the Kearns drop-off location, 5415 S. 4270 West. Gifts can then be taken to the Utah Association for Intellectual Disabilities. People can also send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org to have an ornament emailed to them.
"They definitely need the outreach of the community to be able to assist so they can have Christmas just like we can," Wyan said.
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