Emery and Carbon Counties youth have combined to make sure county residents all have a warm coat to keep the winter chill away.
According to Pam Juliano of the United Way there are 250 local high school students involved in the youth group, many of which are working on the Coats for Kids program. She said, "The United Way operates a volunteer organization for the youth to earn honor cords at their graduation ceremonies. The youth must maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher and donate 250 hours of community service.
"The youth came up with a unique way to raise money for coats. We have a lot of coats that are donated but there are always those people or children who can't find a coat to fit them. That's where the fundraiser came in, to give coat vouchers to these people so they can go to the store and pick out a coat.
"The students have been cutting out green paper coats and taking them to participating businesses who sell them for $1 to their customers. The customer then writes their name on the green paper cutout coat and it is displayed in the merchant's window. The students have spent hours cutting out these paper coats. The program has been well received in the communities.
"These students in the United Way Youth Group are making a difference in people's lives. I get really tired of the bad publicity that the kids in this area get from the media. Our kids do great things here and I would like them to be recognized for these things. Thirty-two students at Emery High last year earned their honor cords.
"Community service is a great thing to be able to put down on your scholarship forms to be sent to colleges. The skills these students learn in this program are great skills to have. Some of the community service projects the students have been involved with are the cleaning up of the San Rafael Swell area, cleaning Millsite park, cleaning up the skate park and baseball fields as well as many others.
"One of my favorite programs is the 'Improve a Life Program' at the local care center. The youth have volunteered to spend time with the elderly and write letters to them. One lady at the Ferron Center wouldn't talk to anyone, but the student stuck with it and found out what kind of music the lady liked and played some old songs for her and finally she opened up. This story was a great example to me of how the student didn't give up she just kept on working with the lady until she got through to her. This has been a very successful and rewarding program for the youth.
"They also have a literacy project where they work in the area libraries after school as mentors. The Angel Tree program is also being sponsored by the United Way again this year and the youth are very involved with this program. Trees will be set up at the Desertview Credit Union, Utah Power and Light Credit Union in Huntington and the Food Bank in Castle Dale. Applications for this program are available at the workforce services. One thing added to the program this year is the senior citizens to the angel trees in addition to the youth. The wish lists for children include their clothing size and a toy that they would like to have.
"Olene Walker the lieutenant governor of the state of Utah will be on hand at our awards ceremony next April. She will give out the outstanding youth recognition awards and scholarships. We are also partnering with Green River High School and the Green River Community Center to get the youth of Green River involved in volunteering. We plan on having our mentoring meetings in Carbon County one month and in Emery County one month and trade back and forth. It is time for our counties to get over the rivalry and work together for the good of our communities and the good of our youth. We will accomplish so much more if we are united in our efforts to serve the people of our counties.
"These youth are doing great things and I want everyone to know about it," said Juliano.
The youth group met at the food bank in Castle Dale on Saturday to aid in the distribution of the coats which had been gathered and to give out the coat vouchers to those who could not be fitted. More than 450 coats had been gathered in Emery and Carbon counties to be distributed to those in need. The coat voucher program has met with a great deal of success in the county. Employees at Stewarts in Castle Dale sold 350 of the coat vouchers alone and the store is decorated with the green coat cutouts made by students.