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September 2, 2014

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United Way raises money through gift-wrapping station at mall

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William D'Urso

Lawrel Larsen grabs wrapping paper at the Galleria at Sunset mall in Henderson as part of a United Way of Southern Nevada initiative to raise money for programs.

A new gift-wrapping station run by the United Way of Southern Nevada at the Galleria at Sunset mall has filled the void left by the Henderson library after a recent tax initiative failed.

Once the space near Kohl's became vacant, the mall decided to seek a nonprofit to donate the space to. The United Way was happy to take the space.

“We’re hoping obviously that they’ll have great success,” said Heather Valera, marketing director of the mall. “Then we’ll hopefully bring them back next year for an extended period of time.”

The space is open during mall hours and will close at the end of the day on Christmas Eve.

The mall has donated the space and gift-wrapping materials and is picking up the tab on utilities.

After Christmas Eve, the United Way of Southern Nevada will leave the space. H&R Block will move in shortly after for a few months during tax season, Valera said.

“It’s just a great service for shoppers, and it’s a way for us to offer a service while giving back to the community,” she said.

The gift-wrapping program will help the nonprofit to earn money to fund next year's project.

Cass Palmer, the CEO of the United Way of Southern Nevada, said the charity likely will use the money to adopt a school and provide items such as computers or clothes — whatever is needed most.

“That’s our big push now, finding mentors to come out and help our high school kids graduate,” he said.

The exchange charges $2 to $8 to wrap a gift and also will accept gift donations.

He said it was a great opportunity for the 51 employees of the United Way of Southern Nevada to have fun and do some team building. Each employee will spend time at the shop wrapping presents.

Palmer said he expects the program to generate around $10,000. Last year, he said the organization raised about $13 million from all of its fundraising.

Palmer will be there next week, but he says he’s no ace gift wrapper.

“I’m well behind the learning curve,” he said. “I stick with the gift bags.”

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