WJHS MAD Jags looks different, feels the sameDec 09, 2020 07:26PM ● By Jet Burnham
Last year’s MAD Jags charity drive earned over $54,000 in one frenzied month of fundraising activities. (Photo courtesy of Meagan Benson.)
By Jet Burnham | [email protected]
MAD Jags is the annual charity drive at West Jordan High School. Normally, the month of December is filled with fundraising activities and community interaction. Restrictions due to the pandemic threatened to cancel it this year. However, the Jordan School Board decided to trust SBOs and administrators to continue with their traditions according to safety restrictions.
“It sounds to me like the students themselves recognize the parameters, and they're willing to restructure what they've done before, because they know they can't do what they've done before,” board member Janice Voorhees.
WJHS Student Body President Blue Johnson has been in student government and helped plan MAD Jags for the past three years and said this year has been a challenge.
“It definitely has been weird to figure out how we can do it,” she said.
Every in-person event has an alternate plan if it needs to be switched to a virtual format or be postponed, depending on current public safety recommendations at the time of the event.
“We just have to be very adaptable,” student government adviser Meagan Benson said. “Our student government members have been so amazing. They have thought of so many details that never had to be thought of in the past. This year, it's been so different, but it hasn't been different in the fact that they are trying to create that positive climate and culture for our school.”
Student body officers considered how to encourage enough participation to unify the student body, while limiting group activities and still generating enough donations to help the community.
In addition to providing Christmas gifts for local families, money raised from MAD Jags activities this year will be used to stock WJHS’s Principal’s Pantry.
“We are keeping our fundraised money and goods in house this year,” Principal Jim Birch said. “In this time of uncertainty and financial difficulties in our community, the student officers felt the need to help families in our community.”
WJHS’s Principal’s Pantry provides food for more than two dozen students every day. MAD Jags collection drives will help stock the pantry with food as well as the hygiene items and clothing that many students rely on.
“Since my sophomore year, I have been very, very passionate about Principal’s Pantry and how prevalent [the need] is,” Johnson said. “I'm really excited that we get a greater opportunity to serve something that directly affects our school.”
Johnson said focusing on service opportunities in their own school allows students to directly see the impact of their donations.
“A lot of the activities, like Mr MAD Jags and the tournaments that we have going on—you don't see where that money goes directly,” she said. “But if you can donate a toy or clothing and help sort them, that is something that you can see.”
Sophomore class president Eliza Coe said MAD Jags unifies the student body.
“I think the benefit of it is being able to, not only bond with the students in the process of serving, but just seeing the impact of how what we do affects people in a positive way,” she said.
And while many of the traditional activities may not look the same this year, the feelings that come from serving others will be the same.
“We are hoping to use more service-centered activities, rather than encouraging and focusing on money,” Blue said. “We want to focus on more of the change and what we can do as a student body to make our community better.”
Afterall, Benson points out, the MAD in MAD Jags stands for “Making A Difference.”
“I am most excited about seeing our community rise together to help one another during this difficult time with COVID and also this Christmas season,” Benson said. “Christmas is centered around service and giving, and that's exactly what West Jordan High School is going to focus on.”