By John Franchi
SALT LAKE CITY -- A special store is opening inside the old Barnes Bank Building in Salt Lake City.
This is the 20th year Candy Cane Corner has opened its doors, and it’s all possible thanks to the kindness of the community.
Santa and his elves are making sure homeless families in Utah will have presents to unwrap on Christmas.
“It just gives you such a great uplifting feeling,” said Brenda Koga, a volunteer.
Candy Cane Corner opened Friday with scores of items. Volunteers say their goal is to make sure parents don’t have to decide between Christmas gifts or buying food for their families.
“It honestly for me is like the true definition of the holiday spirit,” said Alicia Gleed, who works with The Road Home. “These families are so incredibly grateful and so excited to be able to provide not only toys but also clothing for their children.”
All of the gifts are donations and are given free of charge. By Christmas Day, the group estimates nearly 800 families will select gifts.
“Being able to provide Christmas for someone who otherwise might not be able to have Christmas is just a great feeling,” Koga said.
Candy Cane Corner offers the full shopping experience, even the wrapping paper is provided. Parents can also choose gifts for themselves.
“So many of our parents are willing to give up anything for their children, so for them to be able to receive a new outfit and get some household items," Gleed said.
Organizers hope this small act of goodwill will lead to a better life for these families.
“So many of the families who are coming through Candy Cane Corner now are actually able to take those gifts back to their home that they recently moved into—they are on their way out of shelter and into housing in time for Christmas,” said Matt Minkevitch of The Road Home.
Candy Cane Corner helps families served by Volunteers of America, The Road Home and the YWCA. They still need donations, especially shoes and clothing for teens and adults. You can drop those items off at their store at 400 South 300 East in Salt Lake City.
Financial donations can also be made online, here.