Salt Lake City woman prepares year-round for Christmas to help less fortunate

Nov 27, 2023, 6:41 PM | Updated: Nov 28, 2023, 2:26 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake City woman spends year-round getting ready for Christmas by collecting hundreds of toys for less-fortunate children.

She does this all on a fixed income. Joanna Larsen tells KSL TV why does it.

“It’s really fun,” Larsen said. “It’s really rewarding.”

Her planning takes a full 12 months.

“You don’t go out every day or anything,” she said. “But when you find something that looks like it, that’s on sale, that you think some kid is going to like that.”

Larsen has a bedroom in her small apartment that has become dedicated to her mission.

“This is like it’s become a hobby of hers,” said Julie Barker, Larsen’s daughter. “This is the thing that she likes to do.”

Service began four years ago

Barker says her mother began doing this four years ago, despite not having a lot of extra money.

“She thinks about the kids that are opening these presents that don’t really have anything,” Barker said. “And that’s what makes her happy.”

So, Barker and her husband helped by filling up their minivan.

Julie Barker loads a vehicle with gifts that her mother has collected over the past year to help the less fortunate. (KSL TV)

“We’re going to need to definitely use another vehicle,” she said.

Barker says her mother doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.

“She’s still going, going strong,” she said.

Larsen says the holiday spirit has always been important to her.

“My dad was kind of a bah humbug about Christmas,” she said. “And it kind of ruined things sometimes. So, it’s just fun doing this now.”

History of generosity

Barker her mother’s generosity goes way back.

“Growing up, she was a single mom for the majority of my entire life,” Barker said.

Barker says even then, her mother gave to families in need.


“Even as we were struggling, growing up” Barker said. “She was always thinking of other people.”

Each year, Larsen takes the toys collected to a drop off location in Taylorsville.

And she knows the toys and supplies will mean so much.

“It’s fun to lay in bed Christmas morning and think of all these kids getting something for Christmas that might not have otherwise,” Barker said.

If you would like to help Larsen out, the family has set up a Venmo account at @Julie-Barker-5-0036.

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.


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Salt Lake City woman prepares year-round for Christmas to help less fortunate