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(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Fourth graders Trinity Perry, Yamailet Reyes and Soita Ein, from left, receive a special treat as hundreds of generous residents from five Utah counties along with volunteers from HeritageWest and SouthWest Credit Unions present 550 students from Lincoln Elementary School in Salt Lake City to a "need" and "want" requests for Christmas on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. The Title One school, where 96% of the kids live under the poverty line and nineteen foreign languages are spoken was filled with big smiles and excitement as volunteers handed out bags of gifts.
Utah community shares holiday spirit with kids at Lincoln Elementary

By Sheena MCFarland

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Dec 19 2013 01:20 pm • Last Updated Dec 19 2013 10:15 pm

The holiday spirit filled the halls of Lincoln Elementary Thursday as each student received gifts donated by Utahns from across the state.

The 550 students there each received two gifts: a "need" and a "want." The residents of five Utah counties — Salt Lake, Tooele, Carbon, Washington and Iron — purchased the gifts, which were listed on handmade ornaments the students crafted and were hung in the lobbies of HeritageWest and SouthWest Community Credit Unions, along with staff and volunteers from the credit unions.

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Lincoln Elementary is a Title I school where 96 percent of the students live below the poverty line and 19 different languages are spoken. Some of the students requested "need" gifts included food, socks, pillows, blankets, shoes, pencils and pens, and some of the "want" gifts included action figures, footballs, LEGOs, dolls and digital games.

"The concept is going to keep going on and on because of community goodwill," said Jan Hemming, spokeswoman for HeritageWest Credit Union, who said this is the 17th year of the event at Lincoln. "Those kids need to see that the community cares about them and that they’re important to us. It’s a way to share the joy of the season."

The credit unions also help about a dozen families from the school each year with basic necessities.

smcfarland@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sheena5427




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