We don’t always know when life is about to take a drastic turn. For approximately 14 thousand people living in Utah, life’s circumstances led to homelessness. But a donation from city leaders throughout the state of Utah will provide a small, yet pleasant surprise for many homeless families.
On September 16, during the Annual Convention for the Utah League of Cities and Towns in Salt Lake City, several municipal leaders and their spouses helped pack more than 200 gift packets for the families staying at The Road Home Midvale Center.
Mayor Ron Bigelow of West Valley City, who helped pack the gift bags, explained, ”When people will step up and offer a little bit of help, a little something goes a long ways to those families.”
Together, they packed diapers and formula, hygiene supplies, and books. They also included little extras to help give people a boost like a toy or a bottle of nail polish.
Smiths Food and Drug, a sponsor of the League of Cities and Towns, donated $5,000 to the project. Public Affairs Director Marsha Gilford also participated in the gift bag preparation, saying “Some of the products are those that were available at our stores. Others were purchased at other locations which is great because we wanted to make sure that everybody had what they needed.”
The project was spearheaded by ULCT’s Krysten Olson and ULCT Auxiliary President Ruth Simmons. Simmons explained, ”We hope to help anyone in that situation to have a feeling of hope and a feeling that people care and that they are worthwhile, they are worth fighting for, that life can be good and there are people that care.
Abby Cox, the wife of Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, addressed the group as the gift-bag packaging began. She explained how life can take a dramatic turn for anyone. It certainly did as she was growing up. At age 9 her father lost his job. Cox explained “Any one of us could be in that situation at any time. I think it’s important for us to understand that.”
After the bags were packed and the ribbons tied, ULCT staff delivered them to the Midvale shelter. Cindy McCormick, a monitor at The Road Home Midvale Center, was there to receive the donation. “This is going to help the families out substantially. These are the things that they need on an everyday basis. It always puts a smile on their face and it’s a sense of relief as well because it’s something that they don’t have to worry about.”
Midvale City Mayor JoAnn Seghini, helped the project move from start to finish. She also was on hand for the delivery and described the satisfaction she feels seeing community leaders from throughout the state helping the families who are temporarily housed in the 300-bed facility in her city. “It means to me that we all care. It means to me that when the chips are down we all work together to solve problems whether it’s a flood in southern Utah or a homeless person in Midvale or a storm-damaged portion in the northern part of our state. We, as elected officials [representing] cities and towns, believe that we’re in this together and that we can call one another to make a difference.”