Utah’s ‘Hometown’ — Caring for its OwnFeb 01, 2024 11:30AM ● By Cindi Mansell
Kaysville Giving GALS – Left to right: Crista Crane, Mindi Edstrom, Mayor Tami Tran, Shanna Barker, Karen Dent, Emily Murphy, and Shannivee Frasure. Courtesy of Mayor Tami Tran
The holidays are over, and nobody is thinking about Christmas. Moving on to Valentine’s Day, it seems appropriate to highlight the Kaysville GIVES Program and the love and community caring provided by those who make it possible.
Historically, Kaysville Parks and Recreation used to host a New Year’s Eve party event. It started small, with various establishments helping. The event grew and moved to Davis High School. At about that time, Kaysville Parks and Recreation Director Cole Stephens began discussions about “how to give back” to the community versus provide an event.
Mindi Edstrom worked in the department at that time and recalls “people wanting to help but not wanting to be in charge.” Thus grew the idea of Kaysville GIVES with the concept to give the gift of joy by donating to the community. The event provided gifts for 10 families and stocked the food bank for its first year in 2017. Staff searched for families in need by working with the Family Enrichment Center. There was a Christmas Tree at City Hall, and the public could take a tag and provide items for those in need.
It was about that time that Kaysville resident Crista Crane took interest in the program. Edstrom was working on the event from the City Hall side of things (now from the Community Development Department), and together the two undertook oversight of the event for the next year (and every year of the program thereafter). Edstrom’s husband, Trevor Edstrom, is a software developer by trade. She enlisted his assistance (and that of her entire family) and he developed a software program to allow for better tracking for the program. The program expanded by offering a virtual giving tree, a shop Amazon list, accepting financial donations, and the Fill the Fire Truck Event.
Although the event begins annually the Monday before Thanksgiving and runs to about a week before Christmas, planning begins in about September of each year. Edstrom and Crane have a dedicated team of volunteers now dubbed “The Giving GALS.” Together, they start calling and collaborating with the local schools to determine those in need. The Kaysville Fire Department “Fill the Fire Truck” really kicks off the event the first part of December; after which, staff and volunteers are entering tags into the database, collecting donations, shopping, and packing boxes.
Two years ago, Randy Taylor of Young Truck & Trailer offered the program a facility in Kaysville to stage and operate the event. They also help by way of organizing and delivery, offering up its trucks and trailers and soliciting donations for Kaysville GIVES on their website. Edstrom offered special thanks to Rob Gennaro, Rob Thomas, and Randy Taylor of Young Truck & Trailer as well as to Tami Olsen, who is over the Young Caring for our Young Foundation.
Fast forward to 2023, Kaysville GIVES just celebrated its seventh successful year. The event provided 140 boxes for families, including more than 2,000 tags consisting of cash donations as well as items (estimated value of about $80,000). “The people of Kaysville are so giving,” Crane said. “If a tag said shoes or clothing, there was often more than one pair, or one outfit donated.” Edstrom said the School District vets families in need as well as organizations such as Mountain High, Safe Harbor, Family Enrichment, Mercy Housing, individual schools, and the Police Department Victims Advocate.
Edstrom said each year she personally witnesses special “miracles.” For instance, this year every family in need was identified and provided for. At the last minute, she was contacted about a 5-year-old boy who would not be having Christmas. She said as if by fate, a community member reached out and asked if he could donate a bunch of toys. The toys were delivered, and they were of the exact age group and perfect for that child. She said another woman was going through a divorce and did not have much to her name but said “donating to the program made her feel better and forget about her own sad situation.”
This special event would not take place without City staff, the Mayor and City Council, Edstrom and Crane and their family members, and the hundreds of community volunteer hours. Others who gave of their time included the Giving GALS, Software Developer Trevor Edstrom, Linda Francis and the Youth City Council, Young Truck & Trailer, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus (Mr. and Mrs. Nessen), the Grinch (Jeff Bosen) who helped two families on his own “grinch” program this year, and countless volunteers.
Mayor Tami Tran dubs the Giving GALS and its team of community volunteers as “angels.” The Kaysville GIVES event is such a notable example of the community coming together. City staff and volunteers provide hundreds of hours of their time to provide for those in need. “Everyone is actually in the spirit because of it,” Edstrom said. “The entire community feels a little bit of this joy and happiness at Christmas.”
The program has been growing to help more families in the community, and the opportunities to donate and participate in other ways will also continue to grow. Keep an eye out for those opportunities by watching Kaysville social media pages and the website at www.kaysvillegives.com.