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The City Journals

Sheriff’s Office, inmates give autumn gifts to children

Dec 08, 2016 01:46PM ● By Tori LaRue

The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office delivered hundreds of pumpkins to Hartvigsen School in Taylorsville on Oct. 26. (Taylorsville City)

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

Hartvigsen School broke away from its daily routine when visitors from the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Unified Police Department brought each student a pumpkin on Oct. 26 to celebrate fall. 

“The kids think it is fun to see the department in the building and see that they are involved in the school,” said Gary Slaymaker, who’s been a secondary teacher at the special needs school for 32 years. “For me, it means that people care, and for them, it means they got a pumpkin. Some of them will go home and tell people about how they got something new while at school.” 

The department selects three schools to bring their autumn gifts to, and Capt. Matt Dumont said Hartvigsen is always at the top of the list. The department has been delivering pumpkins to the school for the past six years. 

“It’s just a special place here, and we are always invited back,” Dumont said. “It warms my heart right up to see these kids get so excited and have an opportunity to interact with them on this level.” 

The pumpkins are not only gifts from the Sheriff’s Office but also from the inmates at the Salt Lake County Jail. The inmates till the ground for the pumpkins, grow them and harvest them as part of the jail’s horticulture program. 

“Not all of the inmates are excited about it, but there’s some of them who are really excited and think it is awesome to be able to grow these pumpkins that they know will be donated to these school children,” said Officer Mark Noble, the corrections officer who’s in charge of the horticulture program. 

The Sherriff’s Office employees and Unified Police officers traveled from classroom to classroom carting pumpkins in hand in in shopping carts to visit the students and give away their presents. Many students at Hartvigsen school hugged their visitors after receiving a pumpkin. They smiled as they took pictures with the Sheriff’s Office dog mascot, Sgt. Siren.

“Just like all kids, they love to see new things, so they love seeing the Sheriff’s department,” Nathan Sellers, a paraeducator at Hartvigsen said. “Our kids are interested in sensory activities, so they’re excited to feel the mascot costume and interact with the community members. I only wish more people would come to visit us.” 

Taylorsville Mayor Larry Johnson also came to the school during the pumpkin giveaway. 

“It is an honor to pass out pumpkins with the Taylorsville Precinct Officers and Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office employees at Hartvigsen School,” he said. “The faces of these students light up with excitement when they are given their very own pumpkin.” 

After the pumpkin giveaway, Hartvigsen students went back to their normal activities, but Dumont said employees of the Sheriff’s office plan to visit around the same time next year. 

“It’s a favorite activity for many of us,” he said.