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Food, Blankets, Stuffed Animals Warm Hearts This Holiday Season

Jan 04, 2016 12:40PM ● Published by Julie Slama

By Julie Slama

South Jordan - Piles of quilts, food, stuffed animals, warm clothing, books and toys were being shared with those less fortunate this holiday season, thanks to local school children.

At South Jordan Elementary, there were several ways students could help the community. Through the school’s Student Lighthouse Team (similar to student government), students could participate in the annual food drive to benefit the Utah Food Bank. 

Lori Layne’s third-grade class and their parents sewed 10 quilts as part of an annual service project to benefit Primary Children’s Medical Center. After they were completed, students volunteered to deliver them.

The school and community also engaged in an Angel Tree Project. Students and community members select tags off of a tree in the school’s office and bring in the requested items. Then, the items are then sorted, wrapped and packaged by teachers, students and volunteers for delivery to families in need.

“It’s grown so large, with more than 60 families having 100-plus students benefitting last year, that South Jordan Middle and Bingham High School have joined forces with us,” Principal Ken Westwood said. “Our conference room and walk-in fridges/freezers fill with items leading up to Christmas. There are several reasons to engage students in service learning projects: We’re all in this together. There are people in our community who are in desperate need and we can help take care of each other. These projects remind us how fortunate most of us are and help us to be grateful (and) these projects encourage students to think of others at a time of the year when they might otherwise be absorbed in their own wants.”

At Jordan Ridge Elementary the student leadership council lead a Project Teddy Bear drive as well as collected coats, gloves, socks and hats that were donated to the Road Home. 

“This same type of project has been done here for four years, now in the fifth year,” Principal Cathy Anderson said. “The students have given coats to St. Joe the Miracle Worker, the Road Home, the homeless shelter and have given shoes one year to the Jordan Credit Union. Each year there is a collection and then a new home for the items to go.”

In addition, first-graders also held its ninth annual food drive, with donations delivered to the Utah Food Bank.

Elk Meadows Elementary also held its 10th annual food drive, hoping to gather 10,000 pounds of food for the Utah Food Bank.

“Our PTA has a theme for this year, ‘It’s going to be a sweet year’ so our theme for this food drive is, ‘How sweet it is to fight hunger’ and we thought we’d continue to help Utah Food Bank,” Principal Aaron Ichimura said. “(I hope the students will) learn to help others who are in need.”

Reaching others in the community through Hartland Community 4 Youth & Families was the way Elk Ridge Middle School students found a way to serve this holiday season.

By donating books and hygiene kits for three weeks this winter, students were able to help many African refugees and others in the Salt Lake City area, earth science and honors biology teacher Vynessa Campos said, adding that the organization runs free soccer programs, reading programs, neighborhood cleanups and school support programs.

“(I hope students learn a) sense of responsibility for others who are not as fortunate as themselves, a sense of leadership and community and awareness of some of the struggles going on in their own state,” she said.

Bingham High students participated in the school’s three-week annual service project called “True Blue,” which raised funds to reach organizations such as helping grant a wish for a child through Make a Wish Foundation; giving food items to those benefitting from the Utah Food Bank; raising awareness about suicide prevention and counseling options with Quit Tripn; and helping families in need identified by Jordan Education Foundation.

“Bingham High School has been helping the community ever since the Great Depression,” Bingham High studentbody president Brigham Jewkes said. “The students at this time held a Christmas dance, where all the proceeds went to local families who were struggling financially. Every year this service project has got bigger and bigger in order to make it the incredible program it is today.”

Brigham said that they decided to help these organizations because “we felt like they were the closest to home.”

The Jordan Education Foundation helps out students in the Jordan School District who are homeless, he said. 

“We wanted this charity because we want to take care of our own students that we are with everyday in the halls,” Brigham said. “We hope that students will learn to love service and learn to be life-long servants. We hope that they remember True Blue as the best time of year where they gave of their time, money, and efforts to support those who were less fortunate than themselves.” 

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