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‘Operation Santa’ helps Utahns in need celebrate Christmas

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MURRAY, Utah - A group of Salt Lake Valley businesses came together Saturday on a mission to spread holiday cheer.

It’s called Operation Santa, and the goal is to help low-income families have a Christmas.

The event is sponsored by the Midvale Rotary Club. This year, 98 kids from all over the Salt Lake Valley went on a shopping spree at Goodwill, picking up both necessities and wants.

“It’s just really nice to have some help, you know, this time of year,” said Jamie Brunson, whose son received one of the shopping opportunities. “He needs shoes, he needs a new jacket, coat, sweatshirts; stuff like that.”

The Rotarians try to give the kids a Christmas to remember, complete with police escort and a visit from Santa. Midvale Rotary Club president Jose Velasco said it’s an experience that benefits the volunteers as much as the kids.

“What a great thing to do,” Velasco said. “To have so many wins out of one small project. It happens in a matter of small hours, one Saturday morning in December.”

Officers from the Unified Police Department and firefighters from the Unified Fire Authority also volunteered to help kids shop. Volunteer Esa said it’s touching to see how far just a little goodwill can go.

“I’ve been there before, so it’s something that’s really close to my heart,” Esa said. “It’s a different life, but yeah, just giving back a little bit.”

At the end of the day, families say it’s about more than just getting presents for the holidays, it’s about the entire experience, and knowing that the community is here to support them.