SALT LAKE CITY — Although it may seem too early to begin thinking about the holidays, Catholic Community Services is already making plans to kick off its annual Gift of the Drummer program. Now in its 17th year, the program helps more than 1,200 children from low-income families during the holiday season.
“We’re grateful for the support we receive each year,” said Matthew Melville, Homeless Services director at CCS. “Our Catholic community is known for its generosity — we can count on our parishes and Catholic schools to make a difference in the lives of these families.”
Individuals or organizations that plan to contribute should spend about $75, if they can, on each child, Melville noted, “but we want people to give whatever they can afford.”
The program provides children from newborn to age 16 with clothing items such as shoes, socks, dresses, pants and coats.
Registration for eligible families begins in October, and families who qualify are registered through CCS’ Saint Vincent de Paul Basics Needs Services. Many who receive support are refugee families; others are unaccompanied refugee children who are in foster care, homeless individuals and low-income families.
Gift recipients must be at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guideline level and should not be enrolled in another Christmas program. During the registration, volunteers for CCS gather information about what the children would like to receive, as well as their sizes, styles and favorite colors. This information is then given to parishes, schools, private individuals and companies so appropriate gifts can be purchased.
While it’s always tempting to give toys at the holidays, Danielle Stamos, CCS’ public relations and marketing director, notes, “We know kids love toys and we encourage giving educational toys. But what these families really need are basic items to help their kids get though our cold winters – items such as coats, hats, gloves and boots are essential. If you’re out shopping for your own kids, it doesn’t take that much to pick up an extra sweater or an extra pair of gloves.”
Gifts must be delivered to CCS, 437 West 200 South, Salt Lake City, during the first week of December. Items should be delivered unwrapped because CCS provides wrapping paper to the parents when they pick up the gifts.
“We ask people not to wrap the gifts because we want the parents of the children to play a part in the gift giving,” said Melville. “We want them to see what the child will receive and have an opportunity to wrap the gift themselves.”
Gifts are distributed around Dec. 18. For information about the Gift of the Drummer program, call 801-428-1216, visit www.ccsutah.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.