Donors have helped more than 1,300 families, with 3,911 kids. But as of Tuesday, 78 families who’d applied for help from United Way’s Sub for Santa program still needed sponsors.

Every year for more than 35 years, United Way of Utah County has helped about 1,500 families by connecting them with sponsors who provide Christmas presents for their children. There are single parents, families with one or multiple children, kids in foster care and even low-income seniors.

Michaelann Bradley, communications manager for United Way of Utah County, said the seniors this year were quickly helped. “People were really willing to do seniors. They ask for things like socks and Justin Bieber CDs. Sometimes we get these seniors who say they don’t need gifts — they just need visits.”

There are still 78 families left in the Sub for Santa program through the United Way of Utah County that need help.

The more than 70 families left on the unsponsored list are larger families and teenagers, she said. “People often can’t always financially afford to help a larger family. They’re always left at the end.”

Families who apply for Sub for Santa must meet income guidelines and attend a workshop. Children must be between 18 months and 14 years old. But younger and older children may participate if they have siblings who qualify. Also, families cannot apply year after year — Sub for Santa is a temporary assistance program. And all the families live in Utah County, mainly from Provo-Orem south, Bradley said.

United Way gives sponsors a list of gift ideas, provided by the family. It asks sponsors to give two-three new clothing items, two new toys and three to five books to each child. United Way also asks sponsors not to do too much — about $100 per child. Once sponsors have bought the gifts, they make arrangements with the family to deliver them — before Christmas.

But helping doesn’t always mean sponsoring a whole family, Bradley said. United Way also takes monetary donations. United Way volunteers then use the money to buy gifts for unsponsored kids in the program.

If you’d like to sponsor a family or donate money, go to subforsanta.org or call United Way at (801) 374-2588.

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