First lady's service fair aims to 'match' volunteers with nonprofit organizations

First lady Abby Cox talks to Scottie Schefler, 2, at the Show Up for Summer Service Fair, hosted by Cox, at Electric Park in Lehi on Monday.

First lady Abby Cox talks to Scottie Schefler, 2, at the Show Up for Summer Service Fair, hosted by Cox, at Electric Park in Lehi on Monday. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)


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LEHI — Natalie Dalley said it just warmed her heart seeing so many mothers bring their children to a service-oriented fair.

"I just love to see these moms here teaching their kids that there is something outside of themselves and that they can serve and give back to society," Dalley said.

Dalley manages Five.12 Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing weekend food bags for elementary children who are food insecure. People who walked by her booth Monday night were encouraged to help pack a food bag that the organization will give to children over the summer.

Hundreds of people showed up to the third annual Summer Service Fair at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, where they learned from local groups about how to get involved in the community.

Families mingled around the more than 60 booths of nonprofits based on family services, health organizations, community charities, mental health resources, education foundations and more. Some of the booths had service opportunities available Monday while others had volunteer sign-ups for future activities.

The event also had food trucks, face-painting, blow-up slides and giveaways of donated prizes and nonprofit organizations' swag for those who filled out a punchcard by signing up for service activities.

Utah's first lady Abby Cox started the fair two years ago as part of her Show Up service initiative. She said as she traveled around the state, she noticed families were wanting to get involved in helping the community but didn't know how, and nonprofit organizations were in need of helpers.

"These organizations sometimes toil in obscurity, and they're doing such good work to lift our most vulnerable populations and work on really hard, complex problems, and they just need a volunteer force that comes and helps them do their work," Cox said.

The service fair is a way "to make that match" by giving families the ability to connect with nonprofits and service opportunities.

"Utah has always been No. 1 for volunteering and No. 1 for charitable giving, but it's not always going to be that way if we're not intentional about making sure that the next generation understands our way of life and why it's so incredibly important," she said. "Service really helps with our mental health. It helps with connection and belonging and coming together and building community."

Volunteer Karin Brown said service is a passion of hers, and she was so excited to get involved with the service fair when it was first announced by Cox. This was her third time helping at the fair.

"We can really feel the stronger community and connection and relationships through service, and that is what improves the overall health of a community. I just want to support that wellness in our community," she said, adding that she loves being able to include her kids in this service initiative.

Brown was helping at a station where people could put a painted handprint on a poster and write a pledge for how they are planning to "show up for service" this summer.

Jeneece Western came to the fair because she wanted to show her children that there are lots of ways to serve close to home.

"I feel like it helps us to be better people and stay focused on what's really important instead of dwelling on the issues we might be having on a day-to-day basis. It's better to get outside of ourselves and think of others," she said.

Her daughter Kiya said she enjoyed making baby blanket kits for pregnant mothers and helping the food drives bag up food for those in need. Kiya's brother Calton said he had the most fun visiting the Golden Healer Service Dog booth.

"You can't go wrong with just trying to bring happiness to others," Calton said. "I want to help the community around me. I can just think about what I'm going through in my hard times and remember there are people going through even harder things, and I want to help those people."

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Cassidy Wixom covers Utah County communities and is the evening breaking news reporter for KSL.com.

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