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United Way hosts Holiday Helper event to benefit homeless, low-income students

3,000 care packages were put together to support students over the holiday break at Thursday's United Way of Treasure Valley event.

BOISE, Idaho — Over 300 volunteers kicked off the holiday season at Expo Idaho Thursday to help support homeless and low-income students.

United Way of Treasure Valley hosted its sixth annual Holiday Helper event, where 3,000 boxes were filled with food and hygiene products for students.

"It's really a community event to give people the chance to give back," CEO of United Way of Treasure Valley, Tim Jackson said. "These boxes are full of all sorts of things that will help kids over the holidays."

The care packages will be shipped out to students all over the region; from New Meadows to Mountain Home, and Ontario to Idaho City. 

"We know how many families right now, working families, are really struggling to make ends meet as food costs go up and housing costs go up," Jackson said. "So, kids who depend on a school lunch that are home for the holidays, this is their care package from the community to them to let them know we care."  

The event went from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Expo Idaho Thursday. Many volunteers wore festival clothes - from Santa hats to Christmas sweaters. Christmas music played over speakers as volunteers went down a line to fill each box with goods. 

The boxes were stuffed with shelf-stable foods like peanut butter, tuna, graham crackers and soup. They also contained hygiene products like soap and dental kits to get students in need through the holidays. 

Each box also contained a note to students to wish them a happy holiday and show support.  

"Just a gesture of love from the community to them. It's a microcosm of the things that United Way does, and that community organizations throughout our valley do to try and help those in need," Jackson said. "But it's a tactile one where people can have this sense of community together, and it's a great way to launch off the holidays where people are thinking outside of themselves when they think about the holidays and how we can make this a great place to live for everyone." 

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