At Brigham Young University, the Marriott School of Management’s holiday tree holds more than just pretty ornaments, it holds the promise of Christmas for many needy families in Utah County.
"We want to get as many people from the Marriott School involved as possible and offer everyone an opportunity to give a little bit of service to someone else," said Kiley Hunt, a first-year MPA student helping with the project.
The annual Angel Tree service project — sponsored by the United Way — provides three options to help meet the needs of families and individuals in Utah County. Faculty, students and staff purchase gifts, donate money or volunteer time. Everyone is welcome to help make Christmas a little better.
"We wanted to create an opportunity for students to bless the lives of others while maintaining their busy schedules," said Jennie Sorenson, a second-year MBA student heading up the project.
So far participation and volunteer efforts have helped the Marriott School almost double its initial project goals. More than 250 individuals have participated, and new volunteers and donations are still coming in.
"Everyone has been exceptionally generous and it really is phenomenal how many people we have been able to help,” Sorenson said.
While many individuals have positive feelings towards the project, a few have expressed a more personal connection.
“I was raised by a poor, single mother so if it were not for programs like this, there wouldn’t have been a Christmas for us,” said Jason Miller, a second-year MBA student. “That’s why I try to give back; I put myself in the shoes of those young people and I understand the pain and disappointment that comes at the holiday season for families who aren’t financially stable.”
The majority of efforts are going to help families in Utah County that have been selected by the United Way. Because of the overwhelmingly positive response, efforts have also been opened to families in need within the Marriott School. Side projects include collecting candy to meet the request of elderly residents in a Springville retirement home and tying fleece blankets and scarves to be given to individuals in Utah County.
This is the 11th year the Marriott School has sponsored the service project in collaboration with the United Way of Utah County. Individuals can make financial donations online at unitedwayuc.org/subforsanta, or by visiting the project's booth in the Tanner Building's first floor atrium.
Writer: Karianne Salisbury