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I Am Draper City gives residents chance to show who they really are

Aug 28, 2017 02:55PM ● Published by Jana Klopsch

Tim Provost, a volunteer at the I Am Draper City service project, enjoying the food trucks, all of which donated part of their profits to the service project. (Lexi Peery/City Journals)

Gallery: I Am Draper City [5 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Lexi Peery | l.peery@mycityjournals.com

After the controversial homeless shelter relocation debate in Draper, and in an effort to prove who the residents of Draper really are, a band of dedicated residents planned a citywide service project that was held on Aug. 10. 

“My wife and I showed up for the Draper homeless meeting that they had, and we were really embarrassed. I didn’t want to be from Draper,” Adam Kessler, one of the event organizers, said. “So we decided we wanted to do something to give the people we know in Draper a chance to go serve and do something impactful and different. There’s no ulterior motive in this, we just want people to serve.”  

And that’s exactly what they did. In a service project called I Am Draper City, thousands of residents of all ages gathered at Corner Canyon High School to donate their time, blood and/or money to volunteer organizations from around the Salt Lake Valley.

“Draper got a bad rap a few months ago and the truth is that was a very small percentage of the residents here,” said Chad Booth, one of the organizers. “They didn’t have enough information and they were full of fear. They got the microphone and the spotlight and that just turned into a big…whatever that was. I sat there thinking, that’s not Draper. People who show up here, they are Draper.” 

On the I Am Draper City website, people could sign up to volunteer on the day of the event, and that’s how Jody Heaton got involved. She was in charge of the area that was filling hygiene kits and backpacks, but said she was excited to serve once her shift was over. 

“I love it. One of my favorite things is after I’m done volunteering, they have all the different charities or organizations here and we can sign up tonight,” Heaton said. “They have calendars ready for us so it’s hands-on ready to volunteer going forward, instead of writing down your number and maybe I’ll volunteer.”

In one part of the school, the American Red Cross had set up shop and was busy drawing blood from willing residents. In another room, 10,000 hygiene kits and 600 back-to-school backpacks were put together for those in need. In another room were several tables, with local volunteer organizations conversing with residents and educating them on how to serve for their various groups. 

Volunteers of America — an organization that helps people who struggle with homelessness, addiction and mental illness — tabled at the event, and Sarah Cavalcanti, the marketing and communications director for the group, said the people she talked to seemed genuinely interested in helping out.

“They aren’t just coming and taking a piece of candy — they are asking questions and learning about how to sign up. It’s great,” Cavalcanti said. “Draper is a little bit removed, from us and a lot of the other organizations … although we are not that far, we are still 20 minutes away, so it’s good to get people from surrounding areas involved.” 

Outside of the school, a row of bounce houses lined a field outside, with food trucks parked nearby. Kids’ games were set up around the field, where Victoria, 15, stood manning the Frisbee golf station. Victoria volunteered for the event with her church youth group.

“It’s really cool to help kids and show them how fun volunteering can be,” Victoria said.

Booth said the inception of the event continued to grow as more people got involved. Even though this is only the first year for the citywide service project, the turnout and excitement surrounding it makes Booth think the success will continue for years to come. 

“Let’s invite Draper, let’s invite people to do good things. People in Draper work hard, are overscheduled and are super family orientated…and it’s a little scary to figure out what to do to help,” Booth said. “Everyone is super excited about it. I think people want to do good. When you can break down those barriers and gaps, people get really excited about service.” 

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