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The City Journals

West Jordan High student are M.A.D. about making a difference

Nov 27, 2019 12:54PM ● By Jet Burnham

High school students brave cold temperatures to do odd jobs for community members and to fill their jugs with donations. (Photo courtesy Jim Bernini/WJHS)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

The West Jordan community looks forward to West Jordan High School’s season of M.A.D. Jags when students Make A Difference by raising money for a local charity. 

This year, Student Body President Emily LaBonty wants students to keep focused on the reason for this month of fundraising activities.

“A lot of times, it can become super competitive with other schools, so we're just trying to steer away from that this year,” she said. “I really want to make it less focused on the total that we're earning and more on how the student body feels and how they connect with the charity, and on doing the most good for the charity.”

Money raised at M.A.D. Jags activities will be donated to Hayes Tough, a small, local charity that helps families whose children have cancer.

“We're really excited because it will be substantial to them,” said SBO adviser Courtnee Meek. “And it's nice to know the money’s going to kids in our community that need it and wouldn't get it otherwise.”

Savanna Tate, who started the Hayes Tough Foundation with her husband, Steve, in honor of their son Hayes, who died of cancer before the age of two, said the funds will help many local families who are battling childhood cancer. She is honored WJHS students have chosen to help.

“I just feel grateful,” Tate said. “These kids are opening up their hearts and putting forth work that has nothing to do with them. They're willing to go all out, put themselves in uncomfortable situations raising money. It's just really telling that these are good kids.”

Students and community members can look forward to all the traditional M.A.D. Jags activities—groups of students going door to door offering to do Odd Jobs for donations, restaurant nights, the drill team vs. cheer basketball game, Mr. M.A.D. Jags Pageant—as well as some new activities such as service nights.

The first service night is scheduled for Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. to make comfort kits. The Hayes Tough Foundation provides comfort kits to patients and their families for their hospital stays.

“We provide them with chargers, cables, hygiene kits, toys—we usually add a Kindle to each package—just things that will give them some relief when they're in the hospital,” Tate said.

Meek said service nights give students a way to be involved that doesn’t require donating any money. She said even though WJHS is in an area where many families don’t have a lot of extra money to donate, they are generous. Many students save their own money to be able to participate in all the M.A.D. Jags activities during lunch and in the evenings when money is collected.

“The kids are so generous because it's very much the tradition at the school,” Meek said. Students get excited to see how much money they can earn. “It's very easy to get caught up in the numbers of it and to get lost in wanting to beat last year's number or wanting to make more money than other high schools.”

Senior class historian Hailey McCarthy said every year when the amount they’ve earned for the charity is revealed, the students go crazy.

“We see what we can do if we all just work together and do something—just little pieces here and there—to make something bigger,” she said.

Meek said students make a huge sacrifice for the charity drive—especially the 22 student government officers who give up four weeks of activities and time with friends and family during the Christmas season to participate in M.A.D. Jags. She said they learn a lot about time management.

Principal Jim Birch said they also learn that they really can make a difference.

“They spend endless hours organizing events, doing odd jobs—by the end of the effort they are beat,” he said. “But the look in the charities’ recipients’ eyes makes all that go away.”


Odd Jobs will be offered from Nov. 21–Dec. 19.

Restaurant spirit nights will be held Dec. 3, 5, 10, 19.

Dec. 3 Service project making comfort kits at 7 p.m.

Dec. 7 Princess/Superhero Day at 10 a.m.–noon

Dec. 16 Drill Team v. Cheer basketball game @ 7 p.m.

Dec. 18 Mr. M.A.D. Jag Pageant at 7 p.m.

Dec. 19 Choir Concert

Follow M.A.D. Jags activities on Instagram @WJ_pride for more information.