Welcoming and Belonging: Brigham City’s Holiday Help Program

January 17, 2023

In 2022, the Center for Economic Opportunity & Belonging at EDCUtah launched the Welcoming and Belonging Community Cohort in partnership with Welcoming America. As part of this initiative, we are interviewing members of the Welcoming and Belonging Community Cohort to talk about their progress, highlight success stories, and share best practices.

We spoke to JeuneElle Jeffries, the chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Utah, about the welcoming efforts in Brigham City.

Can you explain the inspiration behind the Holiday Help Program and what the program does?

The Boys and Girls Club of Northern Utah provides “Holiday Help” for families that need a little assistance during the holidays. The program serves mainly homeless, working-class, low-income, refugee, and sheltered families. In particular, this program serves teens who have aged out of assistance programs, families needing to remain anonymous, families with language barriers that preclude them from other programs, and families that didn’t make the application deadline of other holiday assistance programs.

Families are first referred and then make an appointment for the program, allowing them to “shop” for presents and or needs. The Holiday Help Program allows parents, caregivers, and guardians to pick toys and clothing items for everyone in the home. Some items available for families to pick up include work gloves, socks, winter clothes, sweatshirts, blankets, sweaters, hats, earbuds, games, and other toys. When available, families receive gift cards to grocery stores and food assistance.

What helped make this event a success?

Participation from local nonprofits, schools, and government entities helps make this event a success every year. Agencies participating in the program include the Family Support Center, New Hope Crisis Center, Cache Refugee and Immigrant Connection, Habitat for Humanity, Acts Six Soup Kitchen, local food shelters, pregnancy care centers, and school districts. The program serves about 150 families each year in northern Utah.

Why is this event important for welcoming and belonging?

This program prioritizes inclusiveness as it doesn't require prior knowledge of the program or prior access to the program through “correct” connections with specific organizations or “correct” access to applications. All community entities are involved in referring clients to the project, including faith-based organizations and school programs. Many community programs require deadlines, forms, and access points and are inherently full of barriers to families, especially families who speak different languages, celebrate different holidays, and are spending their time meeting basic immediate needs, making it harder to plan for future needs. This isn’t the case with the Holiday Help program, however.

Mayor Dennis J. Bott of Brigham City has spoken about the importance of programs such as the Holiday Help Program. One of Mayor Bott’s priorities includes reaching out to Hispanic residents to identify and ease barriers to participation and engagement in the community.  The U.S. Census Bureau identifies Hispanic or Latino ethnicity as the largest minority in Brigham City, making up 9.3% of the city’s population. In his initial outreach, Mayor Bott said, “I am anxious to include and engage more of our Hispanic citizens. You are an integral component of our community and have so much to offer, [and] I feel you are often overlooked and undervalued.” The Holiday Help Program is one of several outreach efforts in Brigham City making a difference.

How can people get involved?

People can get involved by donating goods such as clothing, toys, and games. Donations are accepted from families, companies, and friends of the Club. Visit the Club website to learn more.