Annual Christmas basket, Angel Tree program starting<br>

Ulrich said people can refer someone they know, even themselves. The program doesn’t have a strict income guideline and people aren’t asked to prove their hardship. He said recipients don’t necessarily have to have children, nor do they have to be affiliated with the park.

Brian UlrichLast year, the program gave out nearly 60 baskets and presents for 125 children.

The committee expects to give out between 50 and 60 baskets this year, each stocked with about $50 worth of food, including a ham, potatoes and desserts along with a $20 gift certificate to cover milk, eggs, egg nog and other perishables. Park concessionaire Delaware North provides the food for the program at cost.

The Angel Tree will be set up at the Tusayan McDonald’s the day after Thanksgiving. Community members are asked to take the angels, which identify the children by age and gender only, and provide appropriate presents. The committee has an agreement with gift shop concessionaires in Tusayan and the park to provide gifts for any angels that may be left on the tree, Ulrich said.

The baskets are assembled at the Market Plaza store in the park on the Saturday before Christmas -- Dec. 20 this year -- and delivered to workplaces on the following Monday. Ulrich said Xanterra usually donates a truck big enough to transport the baskets. Volunteers are needed to help assemble the baskets and make deliveries, he said.

This year, the committee is starting with a $1,500 balance and will need another $1,500 or so. Ulrich said they try to alternate between business owners and service groups, going to each every other year. This year, he said he expects donations to come from the American Legion, Lions Club, Rotary and other local groups.

The Grand Canyon Salvation Army is overseeing the program this year, assuming responsibility from the Baptist Church after the program’s key founder, Pastor Paul Kinnison, left. This program is separate from the Salvation Army’s bell-ringing campaign.

“What the bell ringers raise is separate,” said Dan Tobin, chairman of the Salvation Army here. “With that money we try to support the community by helping those in need, for instance if someone is working here and a family member dies and they can’t get home, or if they have a fire and they need food and clothing.”

He said funds also help support the Share program, which works through APS to assist households struggling to pay their utility bills. Donations also go toward scholarships to send kids to Camp Ponderosa Ranch in Heber.

Those who want to donate, either to the gift basket program or to the Salvation Army, can do so directly to one of the accounts at BankOne here at the Grand Canyon. Specify on the check whether the donation is for the Salvation Army or for the Salvation Army Christmas Basket Fund.

For more information or to report a needy family, contact Brian Ciesielski at 638-1088, Jim Ulrich at 638-2203 ext. 11, or Dan Tobin at 638-2271.

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