CORONAVIRUS: STRONGER TOGETHER

Volunteers Unite To Fill 1,000 Stockings For Troubled, At-Risk Youth

Dec 11, 2020, 5:17 PM | Updated: 6:17 pm

AMERICAN FORK, Utah — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and while this year will be different with the pandemic, the spirit of Christmas is just as palpable in one Utah County home where a handful of volunteers have come together to make sure at-risk youth aren’t forgotten.

Like many homes this time of year, Hollie Baxter’s living room is bursting with candy, toys, and stockings. But while most people fill stockings for their loved ones, the gifts in Hollie’s home are for complete strangers.

“I feel like they really need the love,” said Baxter.

For six years, Hollie has spent the months leading up to Christmas collecting basic supplies for troubled and at-risk youth across the state.

At any given time, Baxter said 1,000 youth are served.

“There’s people right here in Utah that don’t even get a Christmas present. It breaks my heart, and the stories that I’ve heard are just so sad,” said Hollie. “Some of these kids have never had a birthday cake, let alone a Christmas stocking — things that I take for granted.”

Baxter said the pandemic has made things especially challenging.

“The BYU Women’s conference usually donates about 500 stockings, and since there was no gatherings, they didn’t get that help,” she said. “In October, I called the coordinator to ask how many stockings they needed; she told me that haven’t gotten any donations because of COVID.”

So Hollie rolled up her sleeves and quadrupled her goal.

“I never once thought twice about reaching that goal,” she said. “I just knew that if I can do 200, I can do 1,000.”

Each stocking — which is stuffed with essentials like toiletries, gloves, and socks, as well as some candy and a small toy — costs about $10 to make.

“Some of the teens are in centers, others are in group homes and sometimes they just need their own toothbrush,” Baxter said.

Hollie isn’t alone. A small army of volunteers like Michelle Cannon have rallied around her.

Baxter said several local businesses, families, and friends have pitched in with donations, big and small.

“I had a woman give me $10 and I knew that was all she had, but she wanted to help,” she said.

Stockings filled with love for a child in need.

“Obviously, there is a place in my heart for this and I just love it,” said Hollie.

Hollie said they’re really close to reaching their goal, adding that any extra donations go towards next year’s Christmas stockings.

Additional information can be found at the group’s Facebook page.

KSL 5 TV Live

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Volunteers Unite To Fill 1,000 Stockings For Troubled, At-Risk Youth