The Christmas Tree Project

Root for Kids’ very own Maria DeWitt Gama organized a fundraiser called “Project Christmas Tree”.  Maria understood that while there are plenty of resources for food, clothing, and toys accessible for those in need, the delight of having a Christmas tree with gifts underneath it contributes to the magic of the season.  Maria spoke with a mother whose child asked for a Christmas tree.  The mother had to ask her child if they wanted a tree or a present for Christmas as they didn’t have enough money for both. 

Maria said, “Our Project Christmas Tree goal is to give away as many Christmas trees as possible to the people in our community who need one and can’t afford one. The idea of doing this fundraiser started when I posted our old Christmas tree for free on our local Facebook pages.  The tree was gone within minutes. The person who took it said, “Thank you so much, we have a son who just moved here and doesn’t have a Christmas tree.”  Even though the Christmas tree was already gone, I kept getting hundreds of messages from people who said they needed a Christmas tree.” 

Maria truly exemplifies the spirit of the Root for Kids organization, helping as many families in our wonderful community as possible. She and her family have been working hard to ensure that some families are spared from having to make the difficult decision of giving a gift or the spirit of the holiday in their home.



Have a New or Gently Used Christmas Tree To Donate? 

Do you have a new or gently used Christmas tree that you would like to donate to local families in need?  Connect with us by filling out the Contact Us form below.



The Secret Garden Gala brings hope to many. A recap of the event.

The Secret Garden Gala returned for its annual celebration of warmth, laughter, joy and tears at the lovely Garden Room in the Dixie Convention Center on May 12, 2023. Businesses, non-profits and locals joined together and raised money for the families of Root for Kids. We were honored to have Litehouse Inc return as our Platinum & Presenting Sponsor for the 5th year. Coy Bowles tuned in from Nashville with an inspirational keynote speech (along with an unplugged performance of two songs). All this and more in our recap of Root for Kids 30th Anniversary Secret Garden Gala

Social Hour

At 5:30 our guests arrived to socialize and view our live auction items (over 100 items, generously donated from local businesses and boutiques). After being seated, a delicious dinner of steak and salmon was served. Our evening’s hosts, Susi Lafaele and Ed Tracey welcomed the audience. Susi then shared an emotional personal story about her three nephews, who were enrolled in our Early Intervention program. Their family experienced great improvements. We absolutely love hearing stories of our alumni’s success.

Susi Lafaele shares her family’s Root for Kid story at the Secret Garden Gala.


Community Awards

Root for Kids wouldn’t be where we are today without the help of our local community. Every year, we like to show appreciation to those who give back so much, not only to us, but to the entire Southern Utah community. These are the people, businesses and organizations that received this year’s community awards:

Outstanding Community Partner: BlvdHome

BlvdHome is awarded Outstanding Community Partner at The Secret Garden Gala.

Outstanding Business: Hughes General Contractors

Hughes General Contractors is awarded Outstanding Business at The Secret Garden Gala.

Outstanding Health Partner: Family Healthcare

Family Healthcare is awarded Outstanding Health Partner at The Secret Garden Gala.


Outstanding Volunteer: Susan Sims

Susan Sims is awarded Outstanding Volunteer at The Secret Garden Gala

Outstanding Donor: Hurst Wood Foundation

The Hurst Wood Education Foundation is awarded Outstanding Donor at The Secret Garden Gala.

Gardeners of Hope: James & Ilona Christopherson

James & Ilona Christopherson are awarded the Gardner’s of Hope award at The Secret Garden Gala.

Debbie Justice Legacy Award: Litehouse Inc. (our returning presenting sponsor) 

Litehouse Inc is awarded the Debbie Justice Legacy Award at The Secret Garden Gala.

Litehouse Inc Roots for Kids video.

Keynote Address

This year, we had a very special guest join us from Nashville. Coy Bowles, guitarist, keyboardist, singer, and songwriter for the three-time Grammy Award-winning Zac Brown Band streamed in and gave our attendees a truly inspirational and toe-tappingly great keynote address. Coy is an advocate for literacy, early education, and teacher appreciation, so he fits right in with Root for Kids mission statement. To top it off, Coy donated all 5 of his award-winning children’s books, his children’s album, a signed Zac Brown Band CD, a signed Zac Brown Band LP, and a signed guitar, which was used as this year’s raffle prize! We can’t thank Coy enough for tuning in and making the Secret Garden Gala a magical evening.  

Live Auction

As usual, our live auction became hilariously rambunctious. Susi and Ed were fantastic at keeping the mood light and the bidding high. Trips to Mexico, Canada, the Grand Canyon and Sonoma wine country were in high demand. Our friends at BlvdHome donated a luxurious mattress that raised a lot of paddles. A Parade of Homes limo tour finished the auction and was snapped up quickly.

Our 30th Anniversary – A celebration of our alumni

After the live auction, we were honored to have Cydney Holt speak. Her daughter, Temery is one of our enrolled children. Temery had a rough start on life – open heart surgery and non-verbal delays caused by a rare 22q11 deletion syndrome. With the help of Kindermusik and in-home speech therapy, Temery is now starting to verbalize. Her daughter’s story, like so many other children, is the heart of Root for Kids. Which is why for this year’s Gala video, we wanted to celebrate our alumni of the past 30 years and share several success stories. You can watch the video here. 

Cydney Holt shares her daughter Temery’s Root for Kids story.



Thank You

And with that highly emotional note, we would once again like to say thank you to our sponsors, emcees, donors, gala committee, and volunteers for putting on a great evening. We can’t wait to see you next year!


Throughout the year, we have several events that help raise thousands of dollars for our organization. These events are critical in our success by raising funds for our families in need and organization. The Secret Garden Gala is one of our biggest events. This event simply would not have happened without our sponsors. Litehouse Inc returned for the 5th year as our platinum & presenting sponsor. Litehouse has been one of our most consistent donors through the years and we cannot thank them enough. The American Dream Foundation and BlvdHome were our gold sponsors, and they also belong in this category of donors who consistently help Root for Kids’ mission by being a recurring donor. Watts Construction, Flitch, Albertsons Foundation and Southern Utah Home Builders Association were our silver sponsors, and again recurring donors who show us support year after year. Every sponsorship makes a huge impact in our community, and filling out our bronze sponsorships were Altabank, Snow Jensen & Reece, Charlotte Shelley, Friends of TLC, Utah Tech Nursing, Main Street Insurance, Unite Us, America First Credit Union, Infinite Solutions Inc, Rainbow Sign & Banner, University of Utah Health, Stapley Pharmacy, Ruthy’s Fit Club & Fashion, State Bank of Southern Utah and Infowest. To all of our sponsors, from all of us at Root for Kids, Thank you!

Bloom and Grow Support Group for Teen and Young Parents

We are very excited to announce that we have started Bloom and Grow support group for teen and young parents, here at our Root for Kids St. George location.  

What is Bloom and Grow? 

Bloom and Grow will provide young expecting parents and new parents a place to come and learn about the road ahead in a safe and empathetic environment. The sessions will be led by onsite Registered Nurses who specialize in early childhood development. Presenters from the community will also be invited to share their knowledge and expertise on specific topics. The classes are free and open to residents of Washington County. 

Why Bloom and Grow? 

“For every one thousand girls age 15-19 in Washington County, about 13 of them will become a parent. Research has shown that having a child in adolescence is associated with long-term difficulties for the mother and her child. Teen parents can feel very isolated, and it may be difficult for them to find resources that are helpful to them. Our main goal is to offer parents a safe place to ask questions, and to give them tools that will empower them to be the very best parents they can be,” said Megan Eads, Root for Kids Pediatric Registered Nurse. “We have seen the success of similar programs in other areas of Utah and want to give the same opportunity to the teen parents in our community. Everything we do at Root for Kids is aimed at helping children and families reach their greatest potential, and we know this program will do just that for these young parents and their children.” 

What specifically do you learn? 

Topics that may be discussed at the Bloom and Grow meetings include exercise and nutrition, what to expect during and after pregnancy, women’s health, baby care, infant massage, CPR, attachment, bonding, family planning, and more. This group is a great place for young parents to connect with other parents. It will be a safe place for parents to ask questions and learn about the many resources available to them and their children in our community. Healthy food will be served at every class. Participants will receive free gifts for themselves and their child. 

Who is this open to? 

The classes are open to all teens and early twenties parents.  

When are Bloom and Grow classes available? 

The classes are available starting now. Classes are held on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month at Root for Kids 2044 S Mesa Drive. from 4:30-6:00 PM.  

If you know someone who may benefit from the Bloom and Grow Teen Parenting Class, fill out our referral form here or give us a call at (435) 673-5353, ext.107.

Thank you.

Bloom and Grow would not be possible if not for Three Corners Women’s Giving Circle for giving us our foundational funding. We thank them for their generous support.

Who are we? 

Root for Kids (previously known as The Learning Center for Families) is a non-profit organization located in Southern Utah that provides services for children and families in need of extra support. We help families create a nurturing environment for optimal growth and development for each child. Since 1993, Root for Kids has served over 16,000 families through Early Head Start, Early Intervention and Parents as Teachers home visiting programs, and Kindermusik classes, in Washington County, Utah and the Arizona Strip. Root for Kids also provides Early Intervention services in San Juan County, Utah. All services are based on eligibility and are provided at no cost* to the families. 

*Income eligibility for some programs is waived for families under 180% of Federal Poverty Guidelines or who have other extreme special circumstances. Applications for services are taken at any time as our programs are offered year-round. **Data from 2016-2017 Annual Report. See full report. Root for Kids does not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, color, race, ethnicity, creed, national origin, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, political belief or disability. Transportation reimbursement is provided to assist families with program participation.


What You Should Know About Prematurity

In Utah, 10% of births are preterm (more than three weeks before the babies due date.) The rate of prematurity in the United States is similar, and it is a number that has been on the rise over the past few years. Premature birth is the largest contributor to the death of babies in the United States. It can have devastating emotional, physical, and financial effects on the babies and families involved.Read More