You may have heard that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole. Well maybe Santa lives closer to home than we realized.

There’s a tall Christmas tree in a Sandy elementary school with piles of gifts underneath. They aren’t there for the students at the school, they are about to be delivered by the students at Park Lane Elementary.

Students at the school are playing Santa’s helpers for other children just a few cities away whose Christmas trees might otherwise not have a package underneath.

The kids at Rose Park’s North Star Elementary dream, like most children do, of receiving an iPod or Xbox for Christmas. But in a school where poverty maintains a tight grip and parents can hardly afford food, clothes and shelter, it’s impossible to spend a lot of money on a gift.

So the kids from Park Lane stepped in. In fact, they’ve been giving presents to their counterparts at North Star for about 20 years. It’s a tale of two Salt Lake Valley cities that aren’t bound by borders. They are tied by similar hopes and ideals.

The gifts aren’t wrapped when they arrive. They are arranged by category on tables out of sight of curious children. Then parents of the North Star students are invited in. Each set of parents chooses one gift that they can wrap and place under the family Christmas tree.

The spirit of children looking out for other children could teach adults a powerful lesson. Salt Lake City Councilman Carlton Christensen is a lifelong resident of the Rose Park area, where North Star is located. He said his reaction is one of gratitude. He says as a community, “we would love to be able to just do this on our own."

But Christensen added, “I think the benefits of it are giving another community an opportunity to participate and to help out. I have a great deal of thanks for their generosity and their concern."

ULCT is a nonpartisan, inter-local, government cooperative, working to strengthen the quality of municipal governments and administrations. The league serves as a voice for Utah's 245 cities and towns at the county, state and federal levels.