DEQ Gets into the Holiday Spirit with Sub for Santa and Toys for Tots

By Jenny Potter

Presents under the tree at Primary Children’s Cancer Unit from the DEQ Executive Director’s Office

It’s the time of year when we reach into our hearts — and sometimes our wallets — to share what we have with others. But did you know that you also benefit by giving to others? Most of us don’t stop to think about the fact that by giving, we bring greater meaning to our lives and the lives of others, and we promote generosity in those around us.

The Executive Director’s office at the Department of Environmental Quality is always looking for ways to give back to the community beyond our work as public servants charged with protecting the environment. For the past two years, our office has volunteered to be a Sub for Santa for Primary’s Children’s Cancer Unit. We each donate a few dollars to help make the holiday a little brighter for a family facing childhood cancer. The child and his/her entire family receive gifts so that presents on Christmas morning are one less thing the parents need to worry about.

Many of us here have had our lives or the lives of our loved ones touched by cancer, but childhood cancer is particularly devastating. That’s why we chose Primary Children’s Cancer Unit as our Sub for Santa project.

Each year in the U.S. there are an estimated 15,780 children between the ages of birth and 19 years of age who are diagnosed with cancer. Approximately 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer before their 20th birthday. Globally there are more than 300,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year. Every three minutes, somewhere in the world a family hears the devastating words that their child has been diagnosed with cancer. While survival rates for many types of childhood cancer have improved, for too many children, cancer will shorten their lives too soon. Cancer remains the most common cause of death by disease for children in America.” (

The hospital sends us a wish list from the child and any siblings, lets us know what kind of cancer the child is battling, and what we can do to ease the burden on the parents. We have been able to help these families celebrate the holiday by purchasing presents for the kids and gift cards for the parents. We recognize how much we have been blessed, and this small act of kindness allows us to give some of our blessings to others and support our local community, too.

It’s not only the Executive Directors Office at DEQ that makes contributions to our community. Each year, the State of Utah conducts a charity drive that involves all state employees. In December, DEQ holds a charity drive; this year we collected donations for Toys for Tots and the Salt Lake County Animal Shelter. The Marines told us that our boxes were the most they had collected so far! In addition, each division holds its own periodic charity drives, including cans of food for the Food Bank and clothing and hygiene items for The Road Home. Giving is important to everybody in our Department — we work for state government because we believe in public service, and our staff makes sure we give back to the community we serve in lots of different ways.

I’m not sharing this to pat ourselves on the back; I share it because small acts of kindness and giving can have huge benefits. My hope is that by doing these small acts of kindness, we give to those who need it, and it will allow them more time with their loved ones without the worry and stress that can often be part of the holiday season.

Take time to volunteer, take time to donate. People often ask “is your cup half full or half empty?” I can tell you that my cup runneth over, and by giving it has been filled even more. If you are blessed in your life, remember to help fill the cup of someone else, and let them know that there are those who will help. No family should have to face a child with cancer, but we can make it just a little easier for them by helping this time of year. May we treat others with kindness each day and remember that life is about giving to each other!

All of us at DEQ wish you have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season and a very Happy New Year!

I am the Executive Assistant for the Executive Director of  DEQ. I am a records officer and notary for the division, and I have been with DEQ for five years. Prior to working with DEQ, I worked for the Division of Child and Family Services and the Juvenile Justice System. I have a degree in Criminal Justice, a BA in Business Management with an emphasis in human resources, and am a Certified Public Manager through the State of Utah.  I love what I do, but love my family more, and anytime I can spend with them outside is time well spent. You can find me and my husband Jeremy and our children camping, hiking, fishing or any other outdoor recreational activity we can enjoy in our beautiful state!