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Utah teen organizes project to give addiction recovery patients Christmas gifts

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HERRIMAN — Colby Beard, 16, hopes to provide Christmas for more than 100 people who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

It's Beard's Eagle Scout Service Project and there's a personal meaning behind it. In December, Beard plans to set up a Christmas store for outpatient clients at the Odyssey House, a drug and alcohol treatment center at 321 East 2100 South.

"Mostly have clothes," Beard said, as he looked through donations in the garage of his family's Herriman home.

There were also a Christmas tree, decorations and air hockey and foosball tables among the donations. People have also donated gift cards to various stores.

"I'm just amazed of how many people are supporting me on this," Beard said.

Donations have been slowly coming in, since Beard shared his idea with friends, family, his school and church.

"I just hope that I can get enough donations for them to give their families a good Christmas," Beard said.

Addiction is a real thing. It's a disease and it's very difficult to overcome.

–Michael Beard, Colby's father.

Clients at the Odyssey House will complete extra tasks to earn Odyssey bucks to spend at the shop.

"Some of them, if I wasn't doing the store, they wouldn't have Christmas or anything," Beard said.

Beard and his family know the challenges facing these clients, who are trying to rebuild their lives during recovery.

"Addiction is a real thing. It's a disease and it's very difficult to overcome," said Michael Beard, Colby's father.

They also know that a treatment program can make a difference.

Colby Beard's older brother Mikey spent eight months at Odyssey House, getting treatment for a heroin addiction. Mikey had just transitioned to the outpatient services.

"He just looked so much more healthy and everything, like his normal self," Beard said.

On May 27th, Mikey, 24, overdosed on heroin. His family said, he'd been clean for more than a year.

"He had a bad day and unfortunately, he went back to his addiction," Michael Beard said. "One time is all it took and it took his life."

Before his death, Mikey made a poster of his goals and dreams. His father said, he wanted to be a counselor one day, to help other addicts.

"Mikey was so nice and he cared about everyone," Colby Beard said, with tears in his eyes. "He was just my best friend."

Beard is calling his project, Mikey's Christmas Jar. He wants other families to know there's help and hope.

"I know that they want to be with their families and just spend time with their families and have a good time," Beard said.

Facebook page: Mikey's Christmas JarEmail: Call: (801) 878-9229


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Sandra Yi


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