projectelf2In early November, employees at Castle & Cooke Mortgage’s corporate headquarters in Draper, Utah began collecting gifts for children and teens in support of The Christmas Box International’s holiday giving tradition, Project Elf. Employees donated over 60 new toys, games, gift cards, arts and crafts supplies and more, for 20 children ranging in age from five months to 15 years.

This is the second year Castle & Cooke Mortgage has participated in Project Elf, now in its 17th year. The program provides gifts and resources on Christmas morning to thousands of children across Utah who are victims of abuse, neglect, abandonment or homelessness. Recipients include children at the Christmas Box House—a short-term emergency shelter, teens in group homes, children in foster care, children receiving in-home services through the State’s Department of Child and Family Services and young adults who have aged out of foster care and their children. The Christmas Box International also provides gifts for children who have been adopted from the foster care system and some of the over 80,000 children being raised by relatives to avoid foster care.

“Our motto is ‘Every child deserves a childhood’ and it guides everything we do,” says Sherri Engar, Assistant Director of The Christmas Box International. She notes that when many of these children write their letters to Santa, they ask for basic necessities and maybe at the end will mention a toy. Their goal is to deliver above and beyond the basics to help them feel the magic of the season, create positive memories and know what it means to have a childhood.

projectelf1Nichole Belnap, Post Closing Manager for Castle & Cooke Mortgage, facilitated the project and delivered the gifts on Tuesday, December 6th. “The Christmas Box International is such a great organization that does so much for at-risk youth in Utah throughout the year. It’s nice to come together as a work family during the holidays to support them,” says Nichole. “I’m proud to be part of a company that is committed to giving back to the local community.”

Sherri expressed her appreciation for the donated gifts. “We could never do any of this without the generous support of our community, especially businesses like Castle & Cooke Mortgage,” she says. “In this line of work, we see and hear the worst of the worst. But we also get to see the best of the best come through in our individual and corporate donors.”

Opportunities to help The Christmas Box International don’t end with Christmas. It is estimated that within two years of aging out of the foster system, 60% of young adults find themselves homeless, incarcerated or deceased. Through a mentoring program, The Christmas Box International matches adult volunteers with young adults who have aged out of the foster system and find themselves on their own. Volunteers commit for a year to be a friend to a young adult, participating in activities together and helping teach them life skills to prevent them from becoming a statistic.

You can learn more about The Christmas Box International and more opportunities to give back at

Castle & Cooke Mortgage, LLC® (NMLS #1251) is a leading independent mortgage lender headquartered in Draper, Utah, with locations across the United States.