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Episode 12: Christmas for Kids – A Story of Help and Hope

While many children and teens take weeks compiling Christmas wish lists, there are students in Jordan School District who want nothing more than a warm coat, a pair of socks or something for their siblings. In this episode of the Supercast, you will hear heart warming stories about the effort to provide “Christmas for Kids” who would otherwise have little or nothing under the tree this holiday season.

Audio Transcription

Welcome to the Supercast. I'm your host superintendent, Anthony Godfrey. For those of you listening, who are already stressed out about holiday shopping and finding that perfect gift today, we have an idea that just might relieve some of that stress. How about doing something that amounts to the gift of giving back every year, the Jordan education foundation sponsors something called Christmas for kids. It provides a free holiday shopping spree for Jordan school district students who might otherwise go without, without one single gift, a warm coat boots, or simply some new socks over the holidays here to tell us about how you can get involved with Christmas for kids and give the gift of your time. Volunteering is Jordan education foundation, director, Steve hall, and Brian Sinan, president and CEO of the South Jordan chamber. Gentlemen, thanks for joining us on the Supercast.

Okay. Thank you, honor.

Steve, tell us a little bit about the foundation. We're going to do a Supercast about just the foundation, but this is one of the wonderful things the foundation does. Tell us a little bit about it.

Christmas for kids is a program that we started because we know there are a lot of kids that won't have this Christmas opportunity. So six years ago, I think it was, we started with an idea late, but we were able to get 40 secondary middle school, high school students to come to Gordmans and get Christmas. We matched them up with some chaperones that has grown up to this point of now we have this year, we're going to do at least 500 secondary middle school, high school students and give them Christmas.

And how do you choose the students who will receive the opportunity to do this?

Go to the schools? The schools have counselors, administrators, teachers who know the students that need some extra help that may be feeling alone, that they know a family situation that they know that the family is having some particular struggles. They want to be like every other kid in the school, but maybe they don't have the right clothes and maybe they don't have the, the warm clothes and they're struggling. And it's the administrators, the counselors, and the teachers that know the students because they are the professionals that really care about the kids. And as they walk, we've seen these teachers, counselors, principals dig into their own

Pockets to buy Christmas for kids. And so we're trying to make sure everyone that's deserving gets Christmas. And mr. Simon, thanks for joining us. Tell us how you got involved in your history with Christmas for kids,

Actually, Steve and I got together and decided we want to do something with with Gordmans as well as to help with the Jordan school district. So we threw some ideas around and we, we decided on something similar to shop with a cop, but really blow it up. So we decided a little different with the middle and high school. The elementary age usually gets help a little bit more. We thought this was kind of an untapped resource where they don't get as much help. And we decided instead of just having police come in and chaperone or walk around the store for 15 minutes and then go to the checkout and go, we wanted to create an event that the entire community could be part of. So we've got a city officials, police department, fire department, military educators, business leaders that come in, residents that come in and chaperone and take these, these students shopping throughout the store.

And they have $115 to spend, which doesn't sound like a lot to some people, but it is a lot of money for somebody that doesn't normally have that money. We've got, like Steve said several chaperones we'll spend over and I make sure I announced that at the event, make sure you keep track of you, go over, make sure you get your wallet out. So it is just absolutely fun event. It's it's not only amazing for the students what the chaperones get out of this event is like no other event that I've ever seen or heard.

So tell us a little bit about what the role of the chaperone is. So schools have identified kids in need of a Christmas shopping spree, and then you look for chaperones. Now I've been a part of the event before, and it's fabulous. Will you just describe to listeners what that entails for a chaperone?

Absolutely. So basically when, when the students come in, they go to their school and get signed in at the tables. And we have chaperones that we get through the foundation as well as for the chamber of commerce exit business leaders, all, all these other city officials and things they check in and their team of that student. They spend that hour, hour and a half walking the store talking and really relating with that student. I always say to me, it's, it's just as much of a mentoring event as it is a Christmas event. You're gonna get a positive influence. I mean, could you imagine shopping with the mayor of South Jordan and, and talking with the police chief and, and naturally you, cause you'll be there this year, right? That's right. Just making sure

I'm there, I'm there

The fun event. And I had some complaints last year that the line was too long and I told them, that's exactly what I want. And I want that because the other chaperones are talking to the students as well. And everybody's kind of in a group and some of the stories you hear when you're walking by and it's so heartwarming and those chaperones walk out a lot of them in tears, a lot of them are smiling, but still crying just because of what they were able to do to help a student that day. And that's what distinguishes this from some other charitable experiences or opportunities that you might have throughout the holiday season or any time during the year, because there's a very human element to this. It's about relationships and interaction. When they're shopping.

We had an experience last year that one of the people in line that was volunteering to help, not a chaperone, but just trying to make sure students were going one way and chaperones were going another. And, and he was just before checkout. And just before checkout, he was looking down in the shopping cart of this one student. He was looking down there and the kid had some really great stuff. And he said, what was the best part of your shopping? And he looked up and pointed to his chaperone and he said, spending an hour with that guy that was more important. And we don't think of that often enough of saying these kids, not only are they deserving that they need, that they may be in family circumstances that are tough. They may not have any adults to ever talk to and relate to let alone, get to get with these people that that come and volunteer their time. And that's where as a community member, there is no better way to kick off your Christmas season.

Yeah. Who's eligible to participate. It's anybody that's over 18 and I have a high school for chaperones, you have to go on the website and register. Again, we look at not only the city and police and fire and, and business leaders and educators, but we have several residents. One of our first events, I was called to the back of the store because a customer wanted to speak to me. And I thought it was because I don't know, there's too much noise. And it's crazy in here. And I walked back and she asked what's going on? And I, I started with an apology, which I probably shouldn't have done, but I did. And she said, no, no, no. I just want to know what's going on. Is there any way we can be involved? We saw a mother with her, two daughters waiting up front for the daughter.

She has any event. Can we take them shopping? And I'm already tearing up. And I said, absolutely. And they have volunteered. They moved to Montana, but came back and she came back and store sick. Are you still doing Christmas for kids? Yes. She's like, all right. I want to be part of it. And she came back and registered again. Wow. That is somebody who shopping that day, not knowing what's going on, not even taking care of the students that are in the event, but taken care of, but the mothers and clothes, but the, the, I think she was one child and bought the child's clothing and toys. And it's just,

It's not just a, a great event. It is miraculous. And so if you do want to register to participate either as a donor or as a chaperone, go to J E F Christmas for and the forest spelled out, not the number four. So J E F Christmas for And you can sign up as a donor and a chaperone because if you do one, you really ought to do the other.

Let's take a quick break and we'll come back and learn a little bit more about Christmas for kids through the Jordan education foundation.

Do you want to know what's going on in Jordan school district, maybe see your child or a friend featured in a school story, check out our or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at Jordan district. Let's connect today.

We're back with Steve hall, the director of the Jordan education foundation and Brian signed, and the president and CEO of the South Jordan chamber of commerce, who are here to talk with us about Christmas for kids. One of the big events that the Jordan education foundation puts on every year. Tell us a little bit about where the funding comes from. The program involves taking students in need on a shopping spree at Christmas time. Where does the funding come from? Where did they shop? How does all of that work?

The mission of the Jordan education foundation is to engage communities, to provide resources, to strengthen students and feel success in Jordan school district. One of the things that we do to fuel the success and strengthen the students is to provide programs like this. And as we engage communities, we engage people from individuals who are making $5 donations, individuals that are making a hundred dollars donations, that they are officially sponsoring a student themselves with a hundred, $125 to corporations and businesses that are we've got companies that are having so much fun with the Christmas, for kids idea that they don't give the meaningless gifts around the office. They're saying let's donate to Christmas for kids instead, let's pool all of our money and make a significant impact. We've got a SouthTowne Volkswagen who has donated $2,500. Walmart who is hosting our program has donated $10,000. Larry H. Miller charities has donated $15,000. That is a great start to get us to our 50, to 60 to $70,000 that we're going to need for this program. And every donation

That has made through Jef Christmas for kids will make an impact whether it's large or whether it's small, you can participate directly. Even if you don't have the financial means to contribute. You can just come be a chaperone to one of those 500 kids who will be shopping that morning. Tell us more details about when that's happening and how someone can sign up to be a chaperone. Sure.

December 14th from 7:00 AM to 10:00 AM at the Walmart on a hundred fourth and banger. It's again, you, you can register to chaperone or donate, or what I say is you might as well just do both at Jef Christmas for And you will actually see a gallery in there from last year. If you've never been to the event, you can go in and see what, what is like, what it looks like. And again, you do it and you're hooked. It's going to be a yearly event for, for you and your spouse or a family.

So we really need help at whatever level, absolutely financial or otherwise,

Every dollar counts and every chaperone counts. Cause if for some odd reason, we have too many chaperones. We've got people that need to help bag people that can help direct people. There's so many different things that we need. So it is roughly five to 550 chaperones, but we're going to have to have 50 volunteers at the event too, to help it's being part of the event. It doesn't matter what you do. You're a part of this amazing event that you're going to walk out of going, wow, that was the best thing I've ever done.

And emphasizing that it is very important to not just show up the day of the event, but to register at the website prior to showing up. So we know you are coming now, when the chaperone comes through the aisles and is walking along with the student that they're helping shop, what have they observed? What are kids shopping for and who are they shopping for?

Well, it started in the very beginning that you, you, I had a, is actually a Jordan school district employee tell me the story. The, the student was putting a toaster in a girl toy, and this was a male. And she w what are you doing? I'm buying stuff for my family, nothing in that cart for him at that point. And she said, no, no, no, no, no, here's what we're gonna do. You're gonna spend this money on yourself. And then we will go back and I'll take care of this stuff for your family. Is it that type of thing? It doesn't that the student doesn't know if you're spending $10 more, $200 more. They just know they could have an entire Christmas with their family. I was with the chief of police at chief card and a meeting. And we, we talked about what he did. One year. He bought a TV for the family after he did the student spent 115, he bought a little bit extra and then saw a TV there. And he's like, do you guys have a TV? No, we don't have a TV. He went, turned around and bought that TV. It's that kind of feeling and that kind of confidence you give a student and a family. And those of situations that they are, they are loved and people do care about them.

I remember one student that came one year Betty was a junior, maybe a senior in high school. And he came in. We, we do encourage them to buy Meads, but be sure you throw in a want or two, this student came in, went, got the shopping cart with the chaperone, went directly back to the sock section and loaded that cart with socks and the chaperone. What are you doing? And he said, my feet, my feet will never be cold again. And I remember one girl coming. She didn't have a ride. She walked every once in a while, we get one of those mornings it's really, really cold and it was cold. And she came in, she was ill-equipped for it. But when she left, she had a warm coat. And those are the kinds of things that we see. Time, time and time again at this particular event, it's, it's very, very heartwarming.

And even with Santa being there, you would think middle and high school kids, you know, that Santa, whatever. We have the fire department bring Santa on the fire truck. And we get the police department that, that puts the antlers on their cars and act like the reindeer, bringing them in. And those students and chaperones by the way, are very excited to, to interact with saying that during an event. And it's just such an amazing total event. You could, we could talk about stories for eight hours, not even cover all of them. There's just so many heartwarming stories, so many tears stories. I I've walked off the floor several times when we had it at Gordman's to go in my office and we could see me crying, but it's just, it's one of those events that you cry, but it's, it's a cry of helping and, you know, bringing the community together, helping these students out and, and having them have a smile on their face when they walk out, that's priceless that no donation can do that. It's just amazing.

Like Steve was saying earlier students who are cold students who are worried about just taking care of their basic needs, can't learn. So, so this is a great way to, to meet those needs and to help students feel a part of their community, feel about love that we have for them, and put themselves and their families in a better situation going forward. And I can't think of a better way to celebrate the holidays. Absolutely. So we're going to talk to some volunteers, but one more time before we take a break, how do we access the information and sign up

J E F Christmas for

You can register to be a chaperone or make a donation, or both every dollar counts, anyone 18 or over, please sign up, consider donating, consider stopping by as a chaperone. And we'll talk with a few people. Who've been chaperones after the break. Thanks for joining us. And thanks to both of you.

How many times do you hear your child ask what's for breakfast or what's for lunch? Find out what's on the menu at your child's Jordan school district school every day by simply downloading the Nutri slice app to your smartphone or desktop. The Nutro slice app gives you quick and easy access to daily menus, pictures of meals, choices, and nutrition information. Along with allergens present in the foods. The app also allows students and parents to give feedback on food, download the neutral slice app today and enjoy school breakfast and lunch in your school. Cafeteria.

Welcome back to the super cast. We're here talking about Christmas for kids. One of the Jordan education foundation events, we've been talking with Steve Holland, Brian Sinan. And now we have two of the administrative assistants from here in the district office that I know very well nading page and Carrie, Minnesota, who have both been chaperones on the Christmas for kids event in the years past. Thanks for coming on the show. Thanks for having us. Thanks for having this Nadine. Let's start with you. Tell us a little bit about what experiences you've had being part of Christmas for kids.

Okay. My first year I was with a young man and we went around and we were gathering the things, but he kept saying I wanted to get something for family. I wanted, you know, get something from my brother, from my grandma. He lived with his grandma and grandpa because mom was in jail. Dad was who knows where. And so I just kept encouraging him. This is for you, you know, we'll see what we have left. And so we were able to get one item for each of his family members, but what touched me the most was as we were standing in line, Santa was going around the store and he came up to this young man and handed him a gift and the student took it and he opened it and he was like, Oh my gosh. And I said, what? And he said, he knows me. And I said, how, what do you mean? And he said, he showed me and it was a harmonica. And he said, my dad had found a harmonica for me one time and it was stolen from our home. And he said, that was one of the most things I had. And he was given this harmonica. And from then on, it was just like, I am doing this every year. I possibly can.

That's an amazing story. And that matches up with some of the stories that Steve was telling, how things just kind of miracles happen when at this event.

Yeah. It's definitely miracles. And I think of my daughter the next year I signed up of course, to go and ended up quite sick. And my daughter and her husband went and absolutely loved it and went back again last year. And I think one of the miracles is just how they want to serve others to the young lady that my daughter had. Wanted some perfume. She was very quiet and wouldn't hardly pick out anything, but finally got some things and then found some perfume, but didn't have enough for it. And so after it was over, my daughter came to me and said, mom, can we find the student? And she knew what school she was from, but didn't have a name. And I said, probably, and she went out and bought that perfume for her. And we took it to the school and asked the principal if he could get it to her. And later she got a thank you card delivered to me from the student saying, thank you.

Wow. That's amazing. What wonderful stories carry Minnesota. Tell us a little bit about your experiences with Christmas for kids.

One of the young men that we had that my husband and I had, he was emancipated from his family. So he actually was living in an apartment on his own, going to high school and getting tremendous grades because school meant a great deal to him. And he was chosen to come and do Christmas for kids. And the items that he was putting in his basket were towels, sheets, a pillow for his bed, a lamp because he didn't have furnishings for his apartment. And sometimes we just don't even have a clue what some of our students are facing what trials they're, they're going through on their own just to get up and go to school every day. So here's a young man getting wonderful grades, trying extremely hard in school, living on his own. He was working part time at the Megaplex theaters, just trying to make ends meet. And this was an opportunity for us to reach out and help him. And we thought we were trying to do something for Christmas, but it was just for some basic needs that he had,

Obviously the detail with which you remember, these stories suggests that it stays with you. You don't forget these experiences.

That's correct. There's no way to forget. And it, I mean, every Christmas as it comes around, I think of the students that we've taken through and the experiences that we've had with them.

So would you recommend to anyone listening that they ought to sign up and either participate and, or donate?

Absolutely. And it's each and every year. And, and, and just from what we can see each year, it is growing and that we're able to reach out and help more students who are in need and how meaningful that is as a district that we can do that.

Well, thank you very much for being here today, but especially for your service and help with the Christmas for kids program. So thanks for sharing your stories with us today. Thank you for having us. We'll take another quick break and we'll come back to talk with some students who have been impacted by being the beneficiaries of this program. Stay with us. We'll be right back.

If you ever feel like you need just a little extra support in your life, maybe it's time to visit the Jordan family education center. The Jordan family education center is there for you and your family. The center located inside river's edge school, provide support services and classes for families and students in Jordan school district free of charge classes like blues busters for children who are sad or worry. Let's talk a preteen communication class for parents and teens or superhero social skills, a class that helps children enhance their social skills. The Jordan family education center also offers short term counseling and all services are provided by the district school, psychologists and counselors for information about classes and counseling call (801) 565-7442. Welcome back. Now let's hit it

Out to copper Hills high, where we'll visit with two students who are finding hope because of the help they're receiving there. Just to have at least 500 students in need, who will be part of

For kids.

You both get to participate in Christmas for kids. Are you looking forward to that? And what are your plans?

I'm super stoked. When she told me about it, I was like, I don't, I don't know what to say. I'm so excited. Like, I, I don't even know what to do. I'm so I'm so happy. I'm going to go and I'm probably gonna go Christmas, not only for me, but for my siblings as well. It'll be a lot of fun. How about you? Probably very similar to what she is doing, like trying to use the extra resources to help my siblings as well.

Is it hard when you know that you're in needing and, and you know that you need help? Is it hard to ask her to feel comfortable getting that help?

It can be a little bit, cause you have, you have a lot of pride in yourself. Like I can, I can make it on my own. I can do it. But then there just comes a point where you realize that you need help. And the community here is super awesome.

Thanks for joining us on the super cast. If you'd like to help visit Christmas for, that's Christmas for, you can make a donation or sign up to shop with a student it'll change your life. And remember, education is the most important thing you'll do today. Thanks for listening. We'll see you. [inaudible].

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