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South Valley Riverton Journal

Riverton resident’s The Giving Grinch brings happiness to thousands each year

Nov 30, 2023 11:20AM ● By Peri Kinder

Sheena Rose (right) started The Giving Grinch in 1996, providing presents for senior citizens and families. She’s joined here with her mother Becci Denison (left). (Photo courtesy Sheena Rose)

Sheena Rose was 16 years old when she worked at a day care. It was 1996 and the Bingham High student was talking to the kids about Christmas. A little boy named Austin Hansen told her he didn’t have a Christmas tree and his aunt had told him Santa wouldn’t be able to come that year.

Rose, a Riverton resident, did some investigating and discovered Austin’s family was struggling and didn’t have extra money for Christmas. She took matters into her own hands. 

At school, she asked students for their lunch money, explaining she wanted to give Austin’s family a tree and presents for the holiday. So many students gave her money that Rose was called into the principal’s office because he was concerned she was stealing money. When she explained her plan, he supported her wholeheartedly, and The Giving Grinch was started.

“I went to Smith’s in South Jordan, because I worked there too, and I told the manager I had $30 and there was a little boy in my class who needed presents and stocking stuffers and a Christmas tree,” Rose said. “He told me $30 wouldn’t cover it. But he told me to pull my truck up and he threw a Christmas tree in the back and gave me store credit for everything I needed.”

The Giving Grinch has gone from helping one family to helping hundreds of families and senior citizens each year. Rose goes into assisted living centers to ask the seniors what they’d like for Christmas. Requests range from Oreo cookies to new socks and Rose is happy to accommodate their wishes.

Last year The Giving Grinch helped 900 senior citizens and 100 families, and she expects to assist that many people again this year. Community members can visit to donate to a senior, a teenager, a child or an infant. Or money can be donated for pajamas, shoes, socks and toys to help make someone’s Christmas a little brighter.

“With the elderly homes, we actually go on every holiday,” Rose said. “They love when we go in around Valentine’s. We try to visit them all the time just because they’re forgotten. So people can donate all year on our website for these different things.”

Rose’s daughter, Gentry Rose, serves as Miss Utah Volunteer and the duo enjoy serving the community together. They often support other charities and encourage people to get involved.

“It doesn't matter what the charity is, as long as you’re doing good in your neighborhood,” she said. “Go support each other. That’s what it’s all about. We’ve had so much fun supporting so many different things this year.”

The Giving Grinch holds two fundraisers each year to raise money. It hosts a car show in June and a Bingo night in October. During the last Bingo event, Hansen, now a grown man, showed up to support Rose and the organization. 

“He’s the reason for beginning The Giving Grinch,” Rose said. “I just thank him for coming tonight because it means a lot.”λ