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Taylorsville Journal

Western Hills students get special delivery from Jazz Bear

Jan 05, 2024 01:25PM ● By Tom Haraldsen

The Bear used his famous graffiti gun to bring laughter and joy to students at Western Hills Elementary. (Tom Haraldsen/City Journals)

Christmas came early—or at least a taste of Christmas did–for 290 students at Western Hills Elementary on Dec. 12, 2023. That’s the afternoon when the Utah Jazz Bear, dressed in his best Santa Claus apparel, surprised a student assembly with special “Santa sacks” filled with holiday goodies.

The Granite Education Foundation teamed up with the Jazz and auto dealer Mark Miller Subaru for the gift giveaway. As students sat on the floor of the school’s cafeteria and faced the stage, the Jazz Bear pulled back the curtains and revealed the red-and-white ribbon-decorated sacks that school leaders and sponsors then handed out to each class member.

“This effort is part of our commitment to supporting students in the Granite School District,” Nate Lindquist said, marketing director for Mark Miller Subaru. “Our goal is to bring joy to the children and provide relief and gratitude to their families this festive season.” He said it exemplifies both the Jazz and the dealership’s dedication to the community to make a positive difference.

Many parents were there as well, snapping photos and taking videos as the Jazz Bear hammed things up, bringing smiles and happiness to the students. 

The sacks contained coloring books, pencils, dental care items, fleece blankets and toys, and every student received one. And there was more. After the sacks were handed out, a pair of students from each grade were invited to “challenge” the Jazz Bear to a few contests. One was limbo, where the students easily dipped under the bar, but the much taller Bear could not compete. He lost, and the students won tickets to the Disney On Ice show coming to the Delta Center in February.

“These events are always such an amazing experience,” Jadee Talbot said, executive director of the Granite Education Foundation. “To see the commitment to the community and the commitment to children is so heartwarming. Both Mark Miller Subaru and the Utah Jazz have been incredible in bringing this opportunity to the students and the community here at Western Hills. I think we often take for granted what acts of kindness and what going out of our way to make others feel special can do for people.”

Those special feelings weren’t lost on the students.

“This is the best assembly I’ve ever been to,” Luis said, a third grader. “I love the sack of gifts and the Jazz Bear was really funny. He seemed very friendly to us.”

“I’ve been so excited all day,” Gina said, a fourth grader. “We couldn’t wait for the assembly to start. I love my gifts.”

The Granite Education Foundation works year-round with the district’s 60,000 students. Many of these students qualify for free or reduced lunch programs, and there are over 100 languages spoken in the district’s 80-plus schools. So efforts like this one, done in collaboration with local businesses, are an ongoing mission of the foundation. λ

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