Guest Writer: Stephanie Rokich, United Way of Salt Lake Volunteer Engagement Manager

The first time I participated in a Sub for Santa program was in high school. Each class sponsored a group of families who didn’t have a lot of money for food and gifts that holiday season. We had competitions in our homeroom classes to see who could collect the most items, and then we were invited to wrap the gifts and deliver them to families that winter.

One year, I remember having a lot of fun with my friends wrapping gifts during the week and delivering the gifts and food to a family that weekend. It was a cold, snowy day, and the apartment my group visited was in a cramped complex. We knocked on the door, and as it opened, a woman inside lit up when she saw our shivering group carrying the load of items. We were invited inside and greeted by the whole family – adults and children, cousins and grandparents. Everyone was happy to see us, and, as we talked with the family, I soon realized that their joy wasn’t only from the gifts or the food. The family truly appreciated that someone cared enough about a bunch of strangers to donate and hand deliver gifts to them. I also realized that day how reciprocal the experience was. It was fun, it felt good, and it made me appreciate what I had even more than before.

The beauty of an experience like this is that it’s so often mutual; both the giver and the recipient feel a connection and a sense of community. Everyone can share in that sense of community, and it doesn’t take a lot of time or money to do that.

With the holiday season upon us, United Way of Salt Lake encourages you and your company to find a way to share in the spirit of the season. Find a volunteer project for your company to do through United Way of Salt Lake’s 2016 Holiday Opportunity List. There you will find dozens of impactful ways to get involved. You can feed hungry families, sponsor a low-income family for Christmas, read with students, make ornaments for people with disabilities, wrap gifts, fix children’s bikes, make blankets for hospice patients, record veterans’ stories, make sleep tight kits for homeless children, and much more!

Visit each week for an updated list!

Wondering what the benefit will be for your employees beyond the warm fuzzy of helping a person in need? Research shows that employees are seeking a higher level of engagement from the workplace than ever before. Volunteering equals healthy employees and workplace friendship and teamwork.

For more information about corporate volunteering check out our blog post, 10 Not-To-Miss Stats About Why Company VOLUNTEERING Builds Stronger Companies!

About United Way of Salt Lake

For over 100 years, United Way of Salt Lake has served and strengthened the greater Salt Lake community. Established in 1904 as the Salt Lake Charity Association, its original mission was to help the poor, discourage panhandling, and coordinate the multiple programs. The historic “community chest” with a broad charitable mission has transformed into an agent for social change focused on Collective Impact–bringing partners together in new and innovative ways to identify problems and develop lasting solutions. United Way of Salt Lake serves individuals and families in Davis, Salt Lake, Summit, and Tooele counties. This four-county area represents approximately 1.4 million people or about 52 percent of Utah’s population.