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Angel tree serves homebound seniors in Utah during holidays

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Four years ago, Martina Lane brought a cherished Czech Republic tradition to Utah Valley with an Angel Tree for homebound seniors. 

“In the Czech Republic it’s a nationwide thing every year. Theybroadcast on the radio, and everyone can get involved. It’s a realmovement,” said Lane, Community Development Director for Covington Senior Living in Lehi. “When we moved here, I wanted to start something like that. I knew I couldn’t do it on that scale, but I wanted to try to do something for the seniorswho can’t leave their homes.”

Lane reached out to the Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG) because the organization aids seniorsliving in tough situations. “They gave me a list of people and their Christmas wishes. A lot of requested items are so simple – one woman said she loves cookies. Another asked for the book ‘Where the Red Fern Grows,” said Lane. “Last year we had a gentleman ask for a gift card to Walgreens so he could afford his meds. They’re very humble, simple wishes.”

Families can use the Sign-up Genius link online to donate specific items, gift cards or money toward the Covington Angel Tree or bring donations to Covington Senior Living, 310 N. 1200 E. in Lehi, by Dec. 16.  

“It helps if the items are already wrapped, but we’ll have a wrapping party here and get everything ready for the MAG representative to pick up,” Lane explained. Many families include a Christmas card and a note with their gift donations. Last year a youth group from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wrote notes and decorated cards. 

“If you don’t have money to contribute, write cards. We love adding a personal touch to the gifts. The ones who ask for pants and warm gloves, we’ll throw in some chocolate and a nice card,” Lane continued. “I love seeing all the gifts here in my office. That’s my Christmas – imagining these people getting the packages and opening them.”

The first year Lane and others from Covington delivered to homebound seniors on the MAG list, but HIIPA laws have changed and only caseworkers can make deliveries now. “It would be great if we could meet them in person, but we understand the rules and we’ll serve them any way we can. In the Czech Republic you can meet the homebound seniors and befriend them, and it often leads to wonderful friendships,” said Lane.

The Covington Angel Tree has always been successful, gathering everything on the homebound seniors’ lists. Last year an article in the Lehi Free Press bumped up the quantity of donations in the final week. “The day before our deadline, a Lehi gas station, All About Fuel and Food, bought what was left on our list after seeing the story in the paper. That was so touching to us.” 

The angel tree is not specifically for Covington residents butprovides a way for residents and their families to give back. Last year was difficult because no one was allowed into Covingtonduring the COVID-19 lockdown. 

“I wish we could do more. Once you realize the need and how good it feels to give, it just makes you want to do more,” said Lane. “People are struggling, and we live in a great community. This is a wonderful way to help.”

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