Jazz points and wins translate into money for classroom supplies

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    By Reed Larsen

    Donna Kunzler, a special needs teacher at Hill Crest Elementary School in Orem, has purchased teaching tools such as stickers and interactive games with her own money for the past nine years, she said.

    “I spend a lot of money out of my own pocket for supplies like stickers,” she said.

    However, State Farm Insurance Co. and the Utah Jazz lightened Kunzler”s load this past week.

    “Good Neighbors for Good Schools,” a program sponsored by State Farm, the Utah Jazz and the Utah Education Association, awarded Kunzler $100 to help offset her classroom expenses.

    The “Good Neighbors for Good Schools” program works as follows: Utah teachers fill out an application, which includes a small essay form.

    A board consisting of UEA members along with State Farms agents review the applications, and put them in an order, ranking them from most pressing to least pressing.

    Every time the Jazz score 50 points, a teacher wins $100 for her or his class. If the Jazz win, another teacher is awarded $100 donation.

    “Thus, if the Jazz beat the Lakers 104-100, three teachers will be awarded $100,” said Dimitria Hurst, regional public affairs spokesperson for State Farms Co. “It has been a phenomenal success over the last ten years,” said

    In the Jazz”s 99-87 loss to the L.A. Lakers Saturday, the 10-year program hit the $200,000 mark.

    In November 2002, Kunzler filled out an application to receive funds from the program.

    “They (the application) told us to be creative, so I wrote out a poem,” Kunzler said.

    Kunzler filled out the form quickly, and forgot about it, she said.

    Last week Kunzler received a call from Lance Wilson, a local State Farm agent and 2002 BYU graduate.

    “The budgets here in the (Utah) schools are not the best,” Hurst said. “These $100 awards can help out a little.”

    For Kunzler”s students, these extra educational supplies can make all the difference.

    “You want to be able to have nice things for your kids,” Kunzler said.”If children feel good about themselves, they will learn. If they can have the little things to help them feel better, they will perform better.”

    “I was really grateful for both the Jazz and State Farm,” Kunzler said. “You don”t always have enough money to give what you want to.”

    Hurst credits the Jazz and State Farm agents for the success and longevity of the program.

    “They (the Jazz) are unlike other sports franchises, in that they are very community oriented,” Hurst said.

    The program is the only one of its kind in the NBA, Hurst said. There are no administrative costs involved in running the program. Although State Farm Insurance Co. does contribute funds for the program, a majority of the money comes from State Farm agents themselves.

    “Whatever our agents put in, every penny is put into the hands of teachers,” Hurst said. “We”ve tried to duplicate it, but we can”t do it,” Hurst said. “It is too costly.”

    “I want BYU students to know that there are companies like State Farm out there which give back to the community,” Wilson said.

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