Tia Smart and her Kid Power charity drive are now in junior high school, where she has renamed her idea Teens for Turkeys and has expanded her five-year-old program of rasing money to buy Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys to feed the less advantaged.
I began writing about Tia five years ago when she was 8 and in third grade at Redeemer Lutheran. She recruited neighborhood and school chums as young as 5 to go door-to-door and collect contributions for the turkeys.
Tia and her army of kids raised $2,070, with a $1,500 match from Dan's Foods, enough to purchase 400 turkeys and 800 cans of food, which they personally delivered to the Utah Food Bank that first year.
She has been going strong ever since, using her organizational and fundraising talents through her fourth- and fifth-grade years at Redeemer and her sixth-grade stint at Oakridge Elementary.
During those four years, Tia and her Kid Power band have raised enough money through door-to-door solicitations and fundraisers to purchase nearly 3,400 pounds of turkeys for the food bank.
Now, Tia is a seventh-grader at Wasatch Junior High School and her newly named Teens for Turkeys are at it again.
They have raised $3,200 so far and plan to deliver 250 turkeys to the food bank for Thanksgiving. They will continue their efforts and hope to purchase several hundred more turkeys, thanks in part to a discount on the birds offered to the youthful philanthropists by the new Walmart on Parleys Way.
They also have merged their fund drive with Wasatch Junior High's years-long program of aiding its adopted elementary school, Woodrow Wilson, located in a low-income area of Granite District.
Wasatch, for years, has donated to the second-graders at Woodrow Wilson hand-made blankets made by student volunteers using donated fleece.
The Wasatch students also have raised enough money each year to buy a book for each second-grader at Woodrow Wilson and put on a program for the school, complete with Santa Claus.
After learning about Tia, their new enterprising seventh-grader, the student body officers at Wasatch incorporated her turkey program into their traditional fund drive and have been collecting money for turkeys in the lunch room every day. So, besides the blankets, the books and Santa Claus, each second-grader at Woodrow Wilson will get a turkey this year.
Protect your email • State Democratic Chairman Jim Dabakis smelled a rat right away.
The email he received from Liz Muniz, one of his party's candidates for the Legislature who lost a narrow race to Republican Craig Hall, painted a picture of desperation.
"This message is coming to you with great depression due to my state of discomfort," the email read. "I came down here to Manila, Philippines, with my family for a short vacation but unfortunately, we were mugged and robbed at the park of the hotel where we stayed. All cash, credit cards and cellphones were stolen off us but we still have our lives and passports."
It went on to ask for a quick $850 loan to help her get home.
So Dabakis, on hisK-TALK radio program Saturday, called Muniz at her home in Salt Lake County and, lo and behold, she's not in the Philippines.
But whoever hacked into her email to con money out of her friends also erased all the emails she had built up over several years.
As if being a Democrat in Utah wasn't hard enough.
Frugal Republicans • Gay Larson, another unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives this year, was one of the candidates who received a form letter from Salt Lake County Auditor Gregory P. Hawkins that congratulated her for running for office.
The letter spoke of their heroism and sacrifice for being a candidate.
Hawkins, a Republican who won office two years ago on the promise he would protect taxpayer money, wrote the letter on official Salt Lake County stationery and mailed it in an official Salt Lake County envelope.