We are grateful to have wonderful volunteers

Authored by: Heather Sears, Christmas Box International Outreach Representative

The Christmas Box International has some wonderful ongoing volunteers and interns doing great work this year at The Salt Lake Christmas Box House and we are very pleased to recognize them:

Sidney Huntington, Program Intern, has helped with donation sorting, setting up and maintaining resource rooms and supporting miscellaneous on-site projects.

Karen Falcone, long-time office volunteer has helped with office duties, organizing donations, assembling mailers and info packets and making calls for us.

Devan Rasmussen, Fundraising Intern, helped with designing templates, posting flyers and attending events to share the message of The Christmas Box International.


During our busiest season of the year, current Project Elf volunteers include Natalie Williams, Joelle Brown and Lai Davies, who are helping to pick-up donations at partnering Walmart Stores and are joining  Jonas  Radmer, Sara Wells and Andrea Leatham in receiving and sorting donations, stocking the shelves of our The Christmas Box House resource rooms and assembling gifts for Christmas morning state-wide.

We are so grateful for their incredible donation of time and service in supporting the kids we serve! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!


If you are 18 years or older, we invite you to join us as an ongoing volunteer……

For more information, please visit: http://www.thechristmasboxhouse.org/salt-lake-volunteer-opportunities or http://slco.org/youth/volunteer/

Posted in Charity, Volunteers and Boards, Youth Groups | Leave a comment

The true meaning of the power of giving

Authored by: Gina Percival, Public Relations Coordinator at Salt Lake County Youth Services

Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Happiness has been made such a big word, such a strong feeling, and such a hard goal to reach. But I just realized that it looks so far and it’s so impossible because we are the ones thinking that is always going to be out of our league. The thought about working really working hard to get it just turns the magic away.

However, happiness shouldn’t be a state that you reach and it shouldn’t last forever. Happiness is like a butterfly flying around. You never know when you might just be lucky enough to catch it. A smile, a hug, a moment in time is what we get and that should be enough to keep going, to keep trying, and to keep dreaming.

I had that feeling last Friday and I felt a need to share what is like to have that kind of experience. I never thought it could happen under the circumstances, but it just came unannounced. Without even thinking about it the butterfly landed on me.

I have always known that giving brings a special feeling to people. We all have felt it occasionally when we open a door to somebody else or smile to stranger for no specific reason. However, nothing compares to the feeling of providing a present to someone that is in need. Moreover, you cannot even imagine the sensation you get when, suddenly, that gift lights up the eyes of a child and in return the whole room lights up around them. That my friend is happiness!

Sub for Santa made it possible. Salt Lake County Youth Services implements this campaign every year. This initiative matches people that are willing to adopt a family in need and then provide them with some holiday presents. While not everyone can afford gifts for their family, our intention is to bring some hope, joy, and goodwill this holiday season.

The special thing about this year, is that we received letter from Ashley Barney saying “what we want for Christmas, is to exchange our Christmas in place of giving someone else theirs. My children always wanted to take a gift to someone in need and hand deliver it.”


The dream was about to become true, and not just for one, but for two families.

After days of speaking with both families back and forth, we got Ashley, Chamaine Jerman (Ashley’s mom), her husband Clint and her three kids (Aiden (9), Rohnen (7) and Kaylen(4)) to provide Christmas to Audrea (15), Emily (13) and Briece (11) at Matheson Junior High, located in Magna. The experience was unforgettable.

The first one to come in was Emily. She was shy and very quiet. She just sat down hoping that her siblings would arrive very soon. We tried to ask her some questions to break the ice, but she her answers were short and concise. She seemed reluctant, until we mention the magic word: Pokemon. Her face turned completely different, she was smiling all the way through. Immediately, she opened her backpack and in no time, Emily was playing Pokemon cards with Rohnen. She beat him several times, until Audrea came into the room. According to her, Briece was nowhere to be found. Apparently, he was just at the Library doing homework and he was not going to be able to attend.


The two siblings became excited and wished to proceed. We explained to them why Ashley’s family was there and the reason they were bringing gifts to them. Although we gave them the option to open all the presents in the huge bag, the two kids decided to choose one gift to open before Christmas, as this has been the family tradition.

In opening the present, Audrea beat Emily by a few seconds and immediately started to scream.  She could not believe she was getting a tablet! Emily’s reaction was not any different. She got a huge Pokemon Collection which she began to hug so tightly into her chest as if it was going to go straight into her heart. Seconds later, she also became very excited screaming and squeezing her sister in joy.


Audrea, who wanted to ensure that what she got was not just an empty box, continued to unwrap and open the present all the way through. Later, she was laughing, screaming, and thanking everyone in the room. However, this time her voice was lonely. Emily just stood beside her and all the sudden she started crying.IMG_0342.JPG

“I feel guilty” was all she said and after a short pause she continued “It always happens to my sister and me, every time we get something- because we are not supposed to get anything”.

Every person in the room went dead silent. They then reminded her that Ashley and her family exchanged their Christmas for hers, because she indeed deserves everything, just like any other child. Audrea gave Emily a hug and it seemed as if the two of them were just one single body that lit up the entire room. The two sisters only had each other, only the two of them could fully understand what they were experiencing, and have the strength to keep going. Because this was THEIR time. This was their time to be happy and live the dream, as dreams can come true. Anything else could wait. Anything else was not a big deal.

This was them together. This was them being happy. This was them finding out how the butterfly could also land on their shoulders, as it did. This was them finding out that they, as any other kid, are worth it.


Posted in After School Program, Charity, Family Activities, Parenting Tips, Safe Place, Volunteers and Boards, Youth Groups | Leave a comment

Affordable Family Fun for the Holiday Season

Authored by: By Charity Williams, Community Outreach Coordinator for Magna United

As a single mom, I struggled with finding affordable activities for our family to participate in much like every family. My biggest problem was, I have two kids with special needs. Some days they were able handle the large crowds and loud noises, others not so much. I needed activities that my kids would enjoy, were inexpensive & hopefully learned something new. CHEAP was my priority. I couldn’t have enough money to pay entrance fees for four people, only to have a child have a melt down and need to leave 30 minutes after arriving. You see, our outings were also teaching experiences (I thought I was teaching the kids social skills, when I was being taught patience… which I am still working on).


Below are a few activities that are very inexpensive or even free for families to enjoy over the holidays:

November 19th through December 24th, 2016:

Elf Displays and Scavenger Hunt at Gardner Village
This is a free event and open to the public
Visit: http://www.gardnervillage.com

November 25th through December 24th:

Downtown Jingle Bus!
This is a free event and open to the public
Downtown holiday season visitors can hop-on and off the holiday themed ride circulating between The Gateway, Temple Square, City Creek Center, Gallivan Plaza & Capitol Theatre.

November 25th through January 1st:

Christmas Lights on Temple Square
This is a free event and open to the public

December 2nd – December 4th:

2016 Utah Winter Faire  at the Legacy Events Center
Single Ticket
Online – $7
At the Door – $12
Good for general admission to any one day of the Faire.
Weekend Ticket
Online – $15*
At the Door – $18
Good for general admission to all three days of the Faire
*Online weekend ticket purchases will also include a $5 Winter Faire coin good for shopping at any of the vendors at the Faire.  While supplies last.

Group Ticket
Online – $29
At the Door – $35
Good for general admission for up to 6 people for any day of the Faire
Visit: http://www.utahwinterfaire.com/tickets.html

December 3rd:  Between 11:00 am -7:00 pm:

You can now book your SLC Help Portrait appointment by visiting this link or by calling 801.284.4473
Visit: https://helpportraitutah.youcanbook.me/index.jsp

December 8th- December 10th: Between 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m:

Dickens Festival at South Towne Exposition Center
$7 Adults
$6 Seniors (65+)
$5 Children (4-12)
Visit: http://dickenschristmasfestival.com/salt-lake-city/

December 9th -23th (Monday-Saturday, evenings):

Candlelight Christmas at The Place Heritage Park
Reduced admission price for this event is $5 per person
Free/children (2 and under)
Visit: http://www.thisistheplace.org/

December 10th: Between 02:00 pm – 04:00 pm:

Family Art Saturday: Wire at Utah Museum of Contemporary Art
This is a free event and open to the public

December 12th at 7:00 PM:

32nd Annual Christmas Carole Sing-Along at Vivint Smart Home Arena
This is a free event and open to the public
Visit: http://www.vivintarena.com/events/302
If you want some more activities over the Wasatch Front please visit: http://www.nowplayingutah.com/

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A global Day of Giving

Authored by: Gina Percival, Public Relations and Volunteer Coordinator at Salt Lake County Youth Services

The Holidays can get a little bit crazy. We all want to show appreciation to the people we love and it looks like everybody is trying to find the perfect gift, at the perfect price. That is why it is not uncommon to see people desperate to get their presents during Black Friday (that apparently has moved to Thursday evening) and CyberMonday. The opportunity couldn’t be better. Every store seems to have unbeatable deals.

However, Tuesday comes and it looks like the perfect time to give back. Fueled by social media and collaboration, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season inviting us to join the movement and provide something to someone else. Last year, over 700, 000 people participated on this crusade that got to raise 116,000,000 in 70 countries around the world. Anybody can make help to make a change. It doesn’t have to be anything major, especially when money seems to be running out. It can be giving some of your time, a donation, a gift, a simple but truthful gesture to any stranger. Anything counts.


Now, if you are wondering on how to contribute to the children and teens served by Salt Lake County Youth Services, here are some ideas: img_1954

1. Support the Angel Tree Giving Campaign: The Angel Giving Trees will be available inside the Salt Lake County Government Center North building atrium the community will be able to pick up an ornament that represents a special and needed gift for the children and the teenagers served by Salt Lake County Youth Services.

2. Donate to a charity: ShelterKids is a local non-profit organization that has been providing items to abused, neglected and at-risk teens served by Salt Lake County Youth Services.

3. Support Sub for Santa Campaign: Adopt a family in need and provide Christmas presents to its members.

4. Volunteer: We are calling for volunteers that want to help during the Holidays and all year long.

The only thing we need is your will. Your will to take this opportunity and give back. Your will to share your time and your smile. Your will to change the world, maybe by just sticking around these children and youth in need. Because believe or not, it’s that simple!

Posted in After School Program, Donors and Nonprofits, Family Activities, Volunteers and Boards | 1 Comment

A Thanksgiving to remember

Authored by: Sophia Koplin, Skyline High School

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for all you have and gather together to realize the amazing things we all have to be thankful for.


This past Saturday, November 19th, 2016, a group of strangers gathered together to share a thanksgiving feast at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. A group of 59 Skyline High School students from Key Club, National Honors Society, Student Body Officers and the Drama Department donated their time and effort to provide an unforgettable Thanksgiving Dinner with the Staff and Participants at Salt Lake County Milestone Transitional Living Program. The room was filled with employees, volunteers, and family members. As people gathered around the table to eat, they shared what they were grateful for.


The gratitude felt in the room was overwhelming as people from all walks of life gathered together to provide a Thanksgiving to Remember. I feel so blessed to have been apart of this amazing event and to have seen the generosity and service oriented individuals. I am grateful for the opportunity each of us has to serve our community. I am grateful to organizations such as Salt Lake County Youth Services, Christmas Box  International and The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church who gave us the opportunity to serve and grow as individuals.


Posted in Homeless Youth, Volunteers and Boards | Leave a comment

Pink drug(U-47700) and what to do about it

Authored by: Khanh Tong, Prevention Case Manager

Recently there’s been a lot of talk about the “Pink” drug (also known as U-47700). Many fear that this is the “new drug” on the street and it could get to our youth. Due in part to the two young boys from Park City who died from using the drugs, it is very close to us, and it is real. Some facts about U-47700 are:pink.jpg

• It is seven times stronger than heroin
• You can legally order it online with a credit card in Utah
• DEA are in the process to make it illegal
• Killed about 50 people so far


In the wake of these events, we need to remember that new drugs are popping up all the time. Each time, one drug is getting deadlier than the last: Spice, Ecstasy, Bath Salt, Methylone, Krokodil, etc.


The important question is: how are we going to respond to drugs?

Parents are STILL the number one reason teens don’t use drugs and alcohol, and it’s important for family to:

• Have dinner together
• Spend time together
• Parents talk to kids about values, goals, and dreams
• Parents set clear rules and expectations about drugs/alcohol

At Salt Lake County Youth Services, we provide prevention classes. If parents need tips or courses to learn more about how to help prevent and stop drug abuse. We also provide outpatient treatment and counseling for youth who use drugs, and case management in the form of wrap around service for families and individuals who want to get better. These services are free of charge for teens and their families.  Families/Parents can contact Salt Lake County Youth Service at 385-468-4500 or visit our website at http://www.slco.org/youth to find out more about the available classes and set up an appointment.

Posted in Family Activities, Parenting Tips, Substance Abuse, therapist, Treatment | Leave a comment

Suicide: Speak out, Reach out

Authored By: Gina Percival, Public Relations and Volunteer Coordinator

Everybody has been touched by suicide. It could have been either because somebody you knew attempted/committed suicide or just because you saw it reported on the news. It doesn’t matter how it happened, it is right there, touching always on the door.

Suicide is one of the major areas of concern in Utah as it is the third leading cause of death for ages 10-14, and the second leading cause of death for ages 15-44. Moreover, it has been increasing to the point that today is the 8th leading cause of death in the state, even over car accidents. Moreover, Utah has the 7th highest suicide rate in the U.S. for people aged 10 years and older. What is disturbing is that since 2007, the numbers have not only been increasing, but have tripled.

Unfortunately, there is no way of identifying one and only cause for suicide. The reasons are varied and must be assessed on a case by case basis. Usually, mental illness, elevation sickness, firearms, drug and alcohol abuse, culture, cyberbullying and harassment, sexual abuse or neglect have been recognized as the main ones, but Salt Lake County Youth Services therapists also report that feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, or social isolation should be discussed.


Suicide is always on the scope and you never know when you might have to confront it. Therefore, it is important that you know how to identify and what to do to help someone with suicidal thoughts.

Be aware if you spot any of this signs/motivations that could lead to an attempt:

• The person wants to escape from an intolerable situation
• The person is reaching out for help
• The person wants to get attention
• The person wants to get revenge
• The person believes others will be better off without him/her
• The person wants to become a martyr
• The person has been romanticizing death

Overall, you must be ready to react, so keep this in mind:

• Trust your instincts that the person may be in trouble – talk about your concerns
• Be willing to listen – Allow expression of feelings – Accept feelings
• Be non-judgmental – Do not debate whether suicide is right or wrong or feelings are good or bad – Do not lecture on the value of life
• Get involved – Be available – Show interest and support
• Do not leave the person alone
• Do not agree to secrecy
• Do not dare the person to do it
• Offer hope that alternatives are available
• Take action – Remove firearms or stockpiled pills
• Get professional help, even if the person resists
• Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 18002738255
• Call 911 or take the person to local emergency room or UNI

Suicide is not just a threat, but a reality. A single act of love and kindness might not only help someone in need, but at this point, it might also save their lives.


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Based on Most Recent 2014 Data from CDC

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), 1999-2014 data [cited 2016 July].

Posted in Bully, Child Abuse, Family Counseling, Mental Health, Mental Health, Parenting Tips, Safe Place, Substance Abuse, Uncategorized | Leave a comment