Angel Giving Tree helps youth in Salt Lake County during holiday season

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SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah -- Workers at Salt Lake County Youth Services have decorated their tree to help abused, neglected and at-risk youth, and you can help those youth experience a happy holiday and a better year ahead.

Each ornament on the tree represents a kid who is served by the county, and those who participate in the program pick an ornament and then buy the gift indicated on the note.

The holiday Angel Giving Tree campaign is organized by Salt Lake County Youth Services and a local non-profit called ShelterKids.

Erik Churcher works with SLC Youth Services, and he said even seemingly small donations can make a huge impact.

“Donating food, donating backpacks, anything that may not seem like a big deal: When these kids are given these things, they’ve never had them in their lives,” he said. “They’ve never had these, these things that are actually theirs.”

Churcher said when he sees the ornaments, he sees himself as a child--as at a young age he was sheltered by the youth services.

“It really touches them in a way that you can’t describe unless you’ve been there, and it means the world of difference,” he said.

Youth services workers say they help about 9,000 kids each year.

“Just really to see the look on their face and to see that they have something, is amazing, and, in addition, to see the support from the community, the community is so, so excited to participate in this program, and we see a lot of support throughout the years,” Mike Varanakis of Salt Lake County Youth Services said.

All donations to the program should be dropped off at the Salt Lake County Mayor's Office by December 18. To learn more about the program and how you can help, click here.