Kate Strong is one of those big-hearted people who will always find a way to help others—the question is, how will she make a difference? And what more can she do?
Years ago, she partnered with Timpview High School to organize a Sub for Santa event. For nine years, she organized fundraising and toy shopping.
Later, she created the nonprofit Going Beyond Borders to help build hospitals in West Kenya and even worked in Belize to help build a school and bring clean water to a community in need. Doing charity work across the globe was both challenging and fulfilling.
Then someone asked her something that changed her focus completely: “What are you doing locally for your people?”
That question forced her to look deep down and figure out who “her people” were.
Empower Her Holiday
At the time, Strong was a single mom. And she knew that there were single moms in her community who were struggling. So, as Strong does, she decided to help. Starting small, she hosted a pajama drive at her local yoga studio. During the process, a girl at the studio confided in her that the previous year she had been in an abusive situation and ended up at a women’s shelter. Strong really felt for her. She realized she could do more.
“I had resources. I could help. I was committed to helping single moms,” Strong says.
Strong got involved in women’s shelters and set up makeovers to help single moms feel better about themselves. It was a great experience for all involved. But always she asked, “What more can I do?”
That’s when Empower Her Holiday was born. The annual fundraiser helps single moms in a whole new way.
Every winter, Strong’s organization, My Strong World, hosts Empower Her Holiday. They raise funds and take nominations for single moms in need. Nominees receive a $100 Amazon gift cards themselves as well as one for each of their children, up to $500 per family. Sub for Santa will always have a special place in her heart, but Strong explains that giving a gift card puts the decision-making in the hands of the single mom.
“She knows what her family needs,” Strong says. “A gift card empowers her to buy needed items.”
Every year, something incredible has happened. A miracle, really.
“Every year, we have been able to give to every mom who was nominated,” Strong says.
In 2021, that included 70 families. Over the past three years, about 250 families have been helped. Most of those who are nominated live in Utah, but some come from other states.
Looking back on her own experience, Strong knows how hard some holidays can be while raising kids on your own. But thankfully, what a mom sees isn’t necessarily what a kid sees.
“I don’t think my kids knew the Christmases that were harder than the others,” she explains.
The biggest thing she wants to spread is hope.
“We want to give comfort,” she says. “We want to say, ‘We got you, girl.’”
Along with the gift cards, Strong and her team of volunteers write inspirational messages and personal notes to help lift up the singles mom who will be receiving them. This extra step helps moms know that they are seen and worthy of their gifts.
“Women love to give, but not receive,” Strong explains. “There is magic in receiving. The giving and receiving are what makes Christmas meaningful.”
How to Help
Nominations for single moms will open on December 1 and go through December 8. To nominate a single mom, fill out this form.
Donations for Empower Her Holiday will also be accepted through PayPal and Venmo through December 13. And every donation is 100 percent tax deductible.
On December 13 at 7 p.m., there will be a community letter-writing event where volunteers will write letters of support and prepare gift cards to mail. This event is free to the public and will be held at 11550 S 700 E, Suite 100, in Draper. If you would like to participate, please register here.
Long-time volunteer Tiffany Peterson loves to participate in Empower Her Holiday and to give to single moms in her area. Peterson was raised by a single mom and believes every one of them can be a powerful force in the world.
“My mom was an angel,” she recalls. “We didn’t have a lot, but she modeled giving back. She was really generous. We’d always get an angel at the mall to give something to a child in need.”
Growing up, Peterson didn’t realize that some Christmases were harder than others. And even though funds were tight, her mom would look for less expensive ways to give.
“I remember helping another family by making salt dough ornaments with them,” Peterson says. “That was one of my early Christmas memories.”
“I know there is a lot of fear in the world, and gas prices and food prices are high, but that means single moms are more in need, too,” she adds. “You don’t have to wait until you have a lot to give. Even a small amount helps. The spirit of Christmas is giving.”
A Grateful Recipient
Sutton Shorter remembers opening her mail one day to see Amazon gift cards along with thoughtful and encouraging notes. The single mom of a 12-year-old still tears up just thinking about it.
“I had never received anything like that before,” she explains. “It wasn’t even about the amount of money on the card. I read the incredible card and it made me feel so good to know that someone knows my situation and cares about me.”
Her daughter, she adds, freaked out over the gift card.
Shorter knew that her stepdad had nominated her, since he had asked multiple times if she had gotten anything in the mail recently.
Before that, Shorter had also been gifted with Kate Strong’s self-care retreat, courtesy of Mary Crafts.
“I am totally blessed. I am so appreciative. We did meditation and learned to speak with intention and did healing work. I came home a whole new person,” Shorter says.
With all she has been given, Shorter, and no doubt many of the single mom recipients, are hopeful to have a chance to pay it forward someday.
“There really are good people in the world,” she says.
► You’ll also like: Wrapping Ukrainian Refugees with Quilts