PROVO — Many Utah foster families were given gift bags filled with goodies as a way to say thank you for helping hundreds of children in the system.
Saturday's event in Provo was part of First Lady Abby Cox's "Show Up" initiative.
"This is what Utah does. Utah is amazing at this," said Melissa Hart, who is the executive director of Utah Kids Belong — a non-profit group that works with children in the foster care system.
Hart and several other groups, who also work with foster children, gave away gift bags to foster families as a way to say thank you.
The bags included tickets to events, family-friendly activities, a blanket and other items donated by businesses.
"This is about kids in our state who are hurting and who have amazing families who have stepped up to help them," said Hart.
Cox, who also gave gifts to families, said those fostering children were providing them with much needed stability.
"We wanted to spotlight families who are absolutely doing angelic work, by taking in kids that are the most vulnerable in our state that have been through trauma and grief," said Cox.
By helping those children now, Cox believes it helps them, and society, later.
Many Utah foster families got a special thank you today. It's part of First Lady @AbbyPalmerCox "Show Up" initiative. We're doing a story on this for @KSL5TV at 5pm and 9pm. #ksltvpic.twitter.com/dEH9HrhPZe— Alex Cabrero (@KSL_AlexCabrero) May 8, 2021
"It's how we get upstream of some of our problems of incarceration, of trafficking, of suicide," said Cox. "These kids are at risk, at much higher levels for those things than our average population."
The gifts are nice, but the families said they do it because they care.
"We do it, honestly, because the love of the kids," said Ben Hunter. "Being able to provide for them something that they may not have otherwise is really nice and touches our hearts knowing we made a difference for them."
There are about 1,200 foster families in Utah, but hundreds more children are still waiting.
"This is really just family building for us," said Zach Nay. "We just took in these kids because it felt like they really belonged with us. We've had a great experience with our placements."