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SALT LAKE CITY — For most children, Christmas break is several days of play and fun. For many others, Christmas break is a time they don't eat much.
And so when employees at Green River Capital wanted to help students at their neighboring Redwood Elementary, they thought outside the box.
Actually, they invented their own box, a food box to ensure students would have plenty to eat during the holidays.
"We committed to replace those meals they would have missed," said Scott Karren, one of the employees who spearheaded the project. "That's two meals a day for the 11 days they would have gotten were they here at school."
90 percent of Redwood students qualify for free or reduced meals. Many eat breakfast and lunch at the school every day. So the principal appreciated the thoughtful gift, targeted specifically to students' tastes and cooking abilities.
"The good thing is, they asked us what kind of food they needed so we have a lot of mac and cheese and cereal and kid friendly foods," said Principal Leslie Bell.
Employees spent weeks raising more than $27,000 to buy the food, and then finding a way to find boxes and bulk they needed. Harmons grocery store helped them get pallets of staples from its warehouse.
Then employees donated hours stuffing 775 boxes, enough so that each child could take one home for the holidays. In all, employees provided more than 17,000 meals.
"Our building is right over there, we share a fence with them so we decided, let's do something for our neighbors," said Karren.
Green River Capital takes part in KSL's Read Today program. Volunteers walk across the street every week to tutor struggling readers. That relationship helped inspire the idea to go beyond helping in the class.
As employees handed out packed boxes and wished them a Merry Christmas, some family members left with tears in their eyes.
"They are grateful, and a lot of them are overwhelmed if you look at their faces as they're getting the boxes," said Principal Bell.