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West Jordan Journal

‘Tis the season – for M.A.D. Jags

Dec 11, 2018 11:19AM ● By Jet Burnham

SBOs collected $683 during a three-minute collection blitz for the charity drive kickoff assembly. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

It is M.A.D. Jags season for West Jordan High School, when students unite with the community to Make A Difference.

This year, money earned from fundraising activities will be donated to Angel’s Hands Foundation. 

Last year, students raised $51,500 for their charity. But M.A.D. Jags isn’t just about the money.

“Students who participate in the events gain a little different perspective on life and the importance of selflessly working for the benefit of others,” said SBO advisor Richard Hoonakker. “I know when the total is revealed there are a lot of tears.”

Planning for M.A.D. Jags begins in early October. Hoonakker estimates SBOs work around 80 hours a week during the four weeks of the charity drive.

“The members of student government work ridiculously hard during this time of year,” said Hoonakker. “They are exhausted but somehow keep a smile on their face as they make their way to completing the next task.”

SBO President Lauryn Meyers said the effort is worth it.

“We all obviously get really tired because there’s a lot that we are doing, but it just makes me feel a part of something that’s a lot bigger than I am,” she said. “It is nice to see that number at the end, but it’s not really about that. It's about the relationships we make with our fellow officers—the kids we’re helping and our community.”

M.A.D. Jags events begin the last week of November and continue until Dec. 20.

Spirit nights 

Plan on eating out every Tuesday night in December. Various local restaurants are hosting spirit nights and will donate a percentage of their proceeds to the charity drive.

Dec. 3: Hot Cocoa Night

WJHS students will reach out to the wider community, passing out free hot chocolate near Temple Square while asking for donations to the cause.

It is one of Hoonakker’s favorite M.A.D. Jags activities.

“People outside of our community get to see and hear about the work the students at WJHS are doing,” he said.

Dec. 10: Mr. M.A.D. Jags Pageant

WJHS boys will pay for the privilege of competing for the title of Mr. M.A.D. Jags. Contestants demonstrate their talents (and courage) to earn the audience’s votes. Money paid for voting rights adds to the charity fund total.

Dec. 13: Benefit Concert and Craft Market

Dance Company and Madrigals are just two of the groups that will perform at the benefit concert. Local crafters will also be selling their creations at an open market after the performances.

Dec. 17: Charity Gala

A formal dinner, catered by a local company, will have limited seating. Contact WJHS for ticket information.

Dec. 19: A basketball game to remember

One of the biggest money-makers of the season is the basketball game where the drill team and dance company team up to take on the cheerleaders. The game begins like any other game—until the audience gets involved. They flash cash at the officials to influence the game. They can pay to raise the score, bench half of a team or substitute a teacher into play.

“Depending on how much they give us, we’ll do what they want,” said Meyers. “The scores were over 100 last year—not because they got that many points but because their parents were paying to raise the score.”

Winter Concerts

When attending the orchestra (Dec. 12), band (Dec. 18) and choir (Dec. 20) winter concerts, look for SBOs collecting donations.

Odd Jobs

The community can make its biggest impact on the charity drive through Odd Jobs.

Groups of students will be going door to door in the evenings and on Saturdays, offering to help with whatever odd jobs need doing.

Although donations for services are not required, they are appreciated. Every year, the SBOs are overwhelmed by generous donations. However, besides earning donations, students earn priceless experiences while serving their neighbors.

“You can have some really amazing experiences at Odd Jobs,” said Senior Class President Anne Szymanski. “I’ve been to so many houses where the person said it was really what they needed that day.”

She believes the experience strengthens the entire community.

“Not only are we helping a specific charity, but through odd jobs, we can help our entire community, and I think that’s the essence of charity season—helping as many people as you can,” said Szymanski.

Lunchtime activities

Students can support M.A.D. Jags by participating in lunchtime activities.

They can buy a Crush soda for $2 to be sent to their “secret” crush. To remain anonymous, they can pay an extra $2. The recipient can also pay $2 to find out who sent it.

“In a roundabout way, we make six bucks per soda,” said Meyers.

For just $1, students can request a song to be played over the sound system during lunchtime.

Just $1 also buys a balloon with a guaranteed prize-winning raffle ticket inside. Prizes such as restaurants coupons, phone accessories and tickets to events have been donated by local businesses.

Dec. 20: Buy-Out Day

The final day of the M.A.D. Jags is Buy-Out Day.

“It’s basically a day where students can pay to get out of their classes,” said Szymanski.

Once they’ve met the collection goal determined by their teacher, students are free to participate in video game competitions, karaoke and other social activities.

Silent Auction

Faculty members and students are also then free to bid on silent auction items, donated by local businesses, community members and teachers.

“The teachers at WJHS have proven to be quite generous, often paying more for an item than it is worth,” said Hoonakker.

Corporate sponsors

For the first time this year, M.A.D. Jags has corporate sponsors.

The Utah Grizzlies donated hockey tickets for the Dec. 15 game and Riverton Chevrolet, already a sponsor of Angel’s Hands Foundation, will donate $7,500 through the high school.

For more information on how you can donate to M.A.D. Jags, visit West Jordan High School’s Facebook page or website at