r For the fourth year, the first Friday of December has become known as the Santa Zone at the Mervyn Sharp Bennion Central Utah Veterans Home in Payson. The dining room is arranged with six rows of tables put end to end all stacked with gifts for the young and old. The 108 veterans at the home can choose up to three gifts for sons, daughters and grandchildren. At the end of the dining room is another long table of volunteers wrapping the selected gifts and preparing them for mailing. What a wonderful idea to provide an opportunity for these veterans who do not have the resources of money and transportation to send Christmas gifts to their loved ones.
The Santa Zone event is organized by the local chapters of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Knights of Columbus, Elks Lodge with contributions of many local businesses and private donors. Gifts are purchased with donated money, and money raised in the springtime car show and foot race. Last year the car show raised $3,300 for the Santa Zone. After the veterans select the gift items they want they go to the table to have them wrapped. Students from Diamond Fork Junior High School were the volunteers wrapping the packages, and what a wonderful sight that was to see the young folks involved with the elderly veterans. After the gifts were wrapped they went to the postal station staffed by a retired postal worker and a current postal worker. The packages going to local addresses are delivered by local volunteers. Sometimes the relatives of a veteran have moved, and they don’t have the correct address and the package is returned by the Post Office. The date of the Santa Zone is always the first Friday in December to allow returned packages to be researched and remailed in time for delivery before Christmas.
When you hear or read about the veterans home Santa Zone you now know what it is about and the volunteer effort and donations that make it work. Santa Zone is a special day for the Payson veteran’s home and the support it receives from the community makes a wonderful statement about our local people.