The Utah Jazz Bear brought holiday cheer to hundreds of underprivileged children in Utah this past December through his community initiative, Bear Hugs for Kids. The program provides annual holiday outings that offer low-income youth the opportunity to purchase gifts for Christmas. Approximately 440 children from Salt Lake City, Lehi and Eureka benefited from Bear’s generosity this past December. Firemen & Friends for Kids, a local nonprofit, collaborated with Bear to produce the events, and Larry H. Miller Charities contributed funding toward the program.
Holiday activities began on December 11 in Salt Lake City, when youth selected by the Neighborhood House, Guadalupe Schools and Sorenson Unity Center gathered early in the morning for a light breakfast and entertainment. Participants then boarded buses provided by Lewis Bros. Stages and traveled to Wal-Mart accompanied by a police escort. Community volunteers assisted youth with selecting presents while Bear entertained guests. Similar activities occurred a week later in Eureka and Lehi.
The Jazz Bear is involved in supporting numerous charitable causes and community events, including a yearly fundraiser, the Mascot Bowl, which benefits Bear Hugs for Kids. The fundraiser is produced in collaboration with Lehi High School and several Utah college mascots. Bear also focuses on fostering healthy lifestyle choices at some 40 assemblies he performs annually at schools along the Wasatch Front.
Each season, the Utah Jazz initiates numerous outreach programs and activities as part of its efforts to give back to the community.
The franchise reached out to residents at Mt. Olympus Rehabilitation in mid February when the Jazz Bear paid a special visit to the facility. The energetic mascot delighted all he met as he performed his trademark antics and brought smiles to the crowd.
Activities that afternoon included several rounds of bingo, and Steve Klauke, broadcaster for the Salt Lake Bees, was on hand to call out numbers during the game. Winners were awarded a variety prizes, and all who participated received a gift from the Jazz.