Utah’s economy has been the strongest in the nation for more than a decade, but there are still many who struggle. One truly great thing about our state is that our prosperity is matched by our commitment — individual and collective — to helping those in need. 

At the Farmington Community Christmas event, host families escort guests through an uplifting morning of food, Christmas gifts, warm clothes and essential supplies to help them celebrate. In Cache County, local businesses and dedicated volunteers partner with Sub for Santa for families short on resources. Memory Matters Utah, of St. George, works to build community for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Volunteers at hospitals and medical facilities across the state are devoted to providing relief to patients and caregivers during the holidays. These are just a few examples of the countless charitable organizations that meet needs and demonstrate the true spirit of Utah cooperation.

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The everyday individual efforts of those reading to children in schools, using their lunch break to deliver meals to the homebound, taking the time to listen to those struggling with mental illness, or even just shoveling snow for neighbors are equally important.

Consistently named the most charitable state in the country, Utah shines when it comes to donating, volunteering and reaching out. The Beehive State excels not only in the amount of time and money given, but in the percentage of the population volunteering and donating.

This holiday season, we should make an extra effort to remember those who depend on the help of local charities to make it day by day. 

From the heart of Salt Lake City, Pamela’s Closet has been making a difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness or low-income challenges for over two decades by distributing clothing and other essentials. Though her own life has been so dedicated to lifting the downtrodden that former Gov. Gary Herbert dubbed her “the Mother Theresa of Utah,” Pamela Atkinson encourages those who serve to “never underestimate the powerful impact of even a small amount of giving and caring.” This year, members and staff of the Utah House of Representatives have donated their own money and collected clothing including winter items for men, women and children to Pamela’s Closet. These donations were given out after the Christmas Day steak dinner at St. Vincent dining hall in Salt Lake City. 

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In the homeless resource center bearing her name, her role as an adviser to several governors, and her devotion to charities, churches and nonprofits, Atkinson is a champion for the dignity in all humanity by listening despite differences and offering friendship even when she disagrees. She has seen the impact of a willingness to help though we are tired and to share whatever seemingly insignificant amount of money, time, or love we have, an example we should all strive to emulate. 

I am lucky to call Pamela Atkinson a friend, and our state is lucky to call her one of our own. As we learn from her example and give in the spirit of community, we are reminded that it’s not just the mountains that make Utah such a beautiful place to call home.

Brad Wilson is the speaker of the Utah House of Representatives.