SANDY — Handing sandwiches to children her own age and realizing they didn’t have a home left an impression on 7-year-old Hailee Strandgard.
Hailee, with the help of her parents and community, collected about $10,000 worth of items for the Road Home, $3,000 for the House of Hope, $200 for Primary Children’s Hospital and $400 for the Wellness Center. Additionally, the Strandgards made 600 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with Which Wich Superior Subs, then handed them out to homeless families.
“It’s been amazing. We are just so blessed that there are so many people who are willing to help our daughter help the homeless,” said Trishelle Strandgard, Hailee’s mother. “It was a great experience for our family, especially Hailee, when we passed out the sandwiches and got to meet them one-on-one.”
Saturday, the family donated most of the items, but will finish their drop offs this weekend.
“(My family members) were all just amazed. Everybody down there was so grateful for the sandwiches. We also passed out some gloves and some hats," Trishelle said. "I think it really hit home, especially for my children, to see that there are so many children down there that don’t have a home. On top of them being excited that they were able to give them something, it kind of humbled everyone.”
Trishelle said her daughter was filled with compassion for those children.
"It's just been great to teach the kids what Christmas really is about."
“Hailee, when she saw the people down there, I think it hit her more (than her little brother) just because she’s older and she can understand. She said, ‘I feel so bad for them,’ especially for the kids. She said, ‘I wish they could live with us.’ ”
The collections started last year, when Trishelle did an internship at a day clinic for the homeless. When she told her daughter about the children without homes, Hailee asked if she could give her Christmas gifts to them. Then she asked her mother if she could ask other people to help.
In 2012, the Strandgards donated a pickup truck full of collected items to the Road Home. Hailee asked to do the drive again this year and the Strandgards are already working to get things ready for next year. Trishelle said the family is in the process of setting up a website and filing as a non-profit with the state.
Hailee just wants to keep helping. When asked why she wants to collect donations again next year, she answered simply, “So they just can have it another year.”
Trishelle said she is grateful for the support they have received and the lesson the drive has taught her two children.
“I’m just grateful that we had so many people willing to support her, to help out the homeless and and the people in need," Trishelle said. "It’s just been great to teach the kids what Christmas really is about.”