UTAH (ABC4) – Apparently, there’s some discrepancy about what the Grinch actually did with the gifts he stole from Whoville. Some say, after his heart grew three sizes, he returned the gifts to the happy Whos. But others say he took the gifts straight to Shriner’s Children’s hospital in Salt Lake City.
On the morning of December 22, a horse-drawn carriage driven by the green man himself arrived at Shriner’s to deliver over $13,000 worth of brand-new toys to the children being treated at the hospital. Brigham Young University Offensive Lineman James Empey dressed as Santa and Adrian Paz, a Shriner’s ambassador and patient being treated for Spina Bfida, rode along in the sleigh as Santa’s elf.
For Paz, who has been treated at Shriner’s since age 2, being able to participate in this event symbolizes not only his connection to Shriner’s, but an opportunity to show them his gratitude for everything they’ve done for him.
“I think it’s good to give back because Shriner’s has given so much to me,” he says. “They just make me feel welcome all the time. They are another family to me.”
The gift-giving event was the brainchild of local company Xlear, which is a leading manufacturer of xylitol-based hygiene products. According to Shad Slaughter, Xlear’s Vice President of Operations, the company holds charity as a core value, and has been involved in giving since their founding, albeit in a more “under the radar fashion.” This morning’s gift exchange marks the first public charitable event on part of Xlear.
“The goal of the company has always been to help improve health and wellness,” Slaughter says. “From the beginning, we’ve connected with organizations that do that for people that maybe weren’t born with the advantages or maybe had some sort of physical limitation.”
For this event, the company partnered with several other local brands and shops to secure a variety of Christmas gifts for the patients.
Eric Dowdle, a folk artist based in Lindon donated puzzles to the cause. Local audio company Wicked Audio provided headphones, and Xlear partnered with Endzone Hobby Center in Clearfield to purchase a variety of toys such as card games, board games, and puzzles.
“Doing something by ourselves is helpful, but getting together with a group of other local companies is just a great way of illustrating how unique Utah is in that way of innovation and strong local companies doing good for the communities they’re in,” Slaughter says.
And perhaps those doing the most good are the staff at Shriner’s. Paz is just one example of a child they’ve helped in the 96 years they’ve been serving the Salt Lake community. Not only has he received medical care at the facility, through starring in a Shriner’s commercial, Paz was introduced to the world of acting and has since been on several other commercials and has appeared on Nickelodeon.
“Shriner’s has been a huge part of our life, in a lot of ways, says his mother, Chelsey Paz. “Shriner’s is more than just a place where you can go and get medical care and physical care, it’s a place where Adrian can go and feel normal. You walk through those doors and everyone is equal.”