2021 Root for Kids Awards

We were excited to present this year’s awards in person at our Nurture & Grow Annual Luncheon. Each recipient has made unparalleled contributions to Root for Kids and the kids we serve. 

Outstanding Community Partner: Dixie State University

We have developed a strong relationship with Dixie State University, and they have become one of our greatest community partners.  The students, athletes, coaches, professors, and administrators have volunteered with us in many capacities including: making bottle shakers, lacing kits, activity kits, painting our logo on puzzle blocks for our little ones, re-bundling diapers, cleaning/sanitizing our childcare toys and helping to maintain our yard. Many have also shadowed our home visitors, therapists, teachers, and staff. 

DSU | Root for Kids Awards

DSU has invited us to be a part of their career fairs to promote our organization where we have recruited interns and even found students we have hired as employees. We are fortunate to have many student interns that come through our doors and leave more equipped for the challenges they will face in their future business or nonprofit careers.  We also love that we can share the world of child development and the nonprofit sector with them.

Outstanding Business: Nothing Bundt Cakes

Nearly 10 years ago, Nothing Bundt Cakes St. George was a simple dream for Kelly and Claudia Clayton. After their first Bite of Joy at a Thanksgiving Dinner, they just knew they had to share it with all their friends and family! Though they never imagined their dream would become a reality, in November 2019, it did just that as they opened the doors of their family-owned bakery.

Nothing Bundt Cakes | Root for Kids Awards

Partnering with Root for Kids has been the perfect match since the bakery opened! They will never forget the first time they brought bundtinis over to the Root for Kids staff! Everyone was kind and welcoming and best of all, they loved the cake! Since then, our friendship and partnership has blossomed as Nothing Bundt Cakes has chosen Root for Kids for their Annual Charity Day and offered sponsorships, including desserts for the 2021 Charity Gala and sweet treats for the entire Root for Kids community! With the help of their daughter Kelsey and son-in-law Benetton, and all 5 of their children and spouses, they find nothing more rewarding, than Spreading the Joy to their local community through delicious cake!

Outstanding Health Partner: Southwest Utah Public Health Department

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department serves the residents of Washington, Iron, Kane, Beaver, and Garfield counties with the mission of protecting the community’s health through the promotion of wellness and the prevention of disease. From our agency’s inception, Root for Kids has had a rich and collaborative partnership. Together we share referrals back and forth for each other programs that benefit our enrolled families and children.

SWPHD | Root for Kids Awards

Prior to early childhood education staff being approved to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, our Health Department were aware of our needs and knew we serve a vulnerable population and made sure we had access to the vaccine as soon as possible. Much of the work they do is preventive and behind-the-scenes. They have been at the forefront of our region’s disease investigation and vaccination efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and have appreciated working with all community residents and community partners during this challenging time.

Outstanding Volunteer: Fred Walker

Fred Walker has volunteered with Root for Kids in many capacities, along with his team from Infowest and with groups of college students. During different volunteer projects Fred made sure his groups were engaged and enjoying their time- including keeping them well fed! He has helped us prepare for our annual radiothons by putting together needed supplies. Fred and his team have been great to assist us with re-bundling diapers for the families we serve.

Fred Walker | Root for Kids Awards

Fred is known for his phrase: “But wait….there’s more!” And boy is there so much more to Fred’s relationship with our organization. He attended the ribbon cutting of our Kindermusik Studio grand opening and loved trying out the children’s new musical instruments. There is never a dull moment with Fred!

Fred’s affinity to our organization is most impressive. The fact that at the last minute he stepped up to tag team our virtual gala in 2020 as the Emcee, speaks to his willingness to support and engage in the community and with our agency. We are very grateful for his support and his advocacy for children!

Outstanding Donor: Nancy Hubler

Over the years at Root for Kids we have noticed a theme: most of our board members just can’t quit us. We have several board members who continue to serve because we love this organization, and we believe so strongly in the mission.

Nancy Hubler | Root for Kids Awards

Nancy Hubler is a perfect example of this. Nancy originally joined the board back in March 2014 and shortly thereafter became the Treasurer and chair of the Finance Committee. She left in 2016 to work for the Ohio Department of Insurance and upon her return in 2018, we were fortunate enough to have her rejoin the board and the Finance Committee. She has helped to secure sponsorships for our fundraising events in the past and goes above and beyond with her own generous donations to Root for Kids.

Top 10 Moments of 2020

To say that 2020 was a challenging year is an understatement. Just like most people and businesses, here at Root for Kids we had to get creative (and very virtual/remote) to keep going! We continued to serve hundreds of families during the pandemic and thankfully had the support of amazing people in the community. Check out our top 10 moments of 2020!

Drive-Thru Radiothon

Every December, Mix 103.1, Coyote Country 102.9, Kool 98.9 and Zion 104.1 come to Root for Kids and broadcast live from our lobby during the annual Radiothon, volunteers join us for special projects, donors come in to take pictures with their donations and tour the building… except in 2020. With social distancing and safety concerns in mind, the traditional Radiothon turned into a drive-thru! The radio stations broadcasted from their studio and people from all over town drove by to drop off donations and their change. Online and Venmo donations were extremely popular too, and we were able to raise over $20,000 in one day!

Drive Thru Radiothon | Root for Kids

The Secret Garden Gala: Home Edition

The annual gala quickly became a favorite event at Root for Kids. We were excited to make The Secret Garden Gala bigger and better in 2020, but again we had to adapt. The Secret Garden Gala: Home Edition took place on Saturday, September 12, 2020 with the support of 18 sponsors and 132 guests who joined us online from Washington County, Salt Lake City and Idaho. Between sponsorships, ticket sales, auction and monetary donations the unprecedented virtual event raised $68,128, exceeding our $60,000 goal! We broadcasted live from Root for Kids and guests joined us via Zoom. All guests received gift cards to purchase dinner and party hosts also received a centerpiece to bring the magic of the gala into their home.

Auction | The Secret Garden Gala: Home Edition

Virtual Home Visits

All families enrolled in Early Head Start, Early Intervention and Parents as Teachers receive weekly, bi-weekly or monthly home visits, depending on the child’s needs. Starting in March 2020, the visits moved online in order to keep the families and our staff safe. It was definitely challenging to get the ball rolling, but it was so important to keep providing services. We even did Speech Therapy sessions online!

What a Virtual Speech Therapy Session Looks Like | Root for Kids

Food and Diaper Deliveries

More than ever the families we serve benefited from receiving diaper bundles and food boxes from the Utah Food Bank. Typically, the families would come to the center once a month to pick up their food box but in the interest of avoiding crowds, the home visitors delivered the boxes every month at their door step.

Food Pantry | Root for Kids


It’s humbling to think about how many people and businesses were willing to give and support young kids in our community in 2020. When COVID-19 hit, we weren’t sure what to expect but our donors showed up and helped us keep providing services. We are so lucky to be part of such a giving community!

Donors | Root for Kids


It’s always inspiring when people donate their time to our organization. Our volunteers didn’t hesitate about the changes and were happy to take projects with them when needed! They helped put together the block puzzles our little graduates receive, doing activity kits for the children and bundling diapers.

Lacing Kits | Root for Kids


It’s so fun to celebrate the little kids aging out and graduating from Root for Kids programs! We usually invite them with their families to celebrate with dinner and a graduation ceremony. Last year, the home visitors delivered a “graduation kit” for each child with a graduation hat, their diploma, block puzzle and other donated gifts.

Graduation | Root for Kids

One Utah Child Care

The Caterpillar Clubhouse was one of the few childcare centers that remained open in our area. We realized it was an essential service to provide for the parents who weren’t able to work remotely. In addition to the regular 0-5 classrooms, we partnered up with One Utah Child Care program to provide free childcare for first responders families.

Childcare | Root for Kids

Benefit Concert

It seems like forever ago that we all could get together in an indoor venue for a concert. But before quarantine, we had the pleasure to welcome Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night at the Cox Auditorium for an amazing concert! The event was generously presented by The American Dream Foundation and all ticket sales proceeds benefited Root for Kids.

Benefit Concert | Root for Kids

Health Day

With a lot of coordination and creativity, our Health Services team was able to resume free health clinics for clients in July 2020. Families were assigned time slots with plenty of time between appointments for proper sanitizing. Services provided included vision and hearing screenings, blood lead and hematocrit tests, and fluoride.

Health Day | Root for Kids

We are grateful for everyone that made 2020 a little lighter and brighter at Root for Kids! Thank you for your support. To keep helping young kids have the best start in life, donate here.

How to Host a Donation Drive

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner! It’s been a rough year in many ways, but there’s something about coming together to support a great cause that brings hope and warms people’s hearts during the holiday season. Hosting a donation drive is a fun way to get family, friends and the neighborhood into the holiday spirit and do something good for the community! Check out these five tips on how to host a donation drive.

1. Choose a Local Partner

Think of a cause you care about and look up local organizations in your community. You want to make sure the donations you are collecting are things people actually need! Many nonprofits have a wish list posted on their website of items needed, so you can use that as a reference to ask for donations. It also adds credibility to your donation drive when people know where the donations are going. 

4th Annual Radioathon | Root for Kids

At Root for Kids, we serve pregnant women and children from birth to age 5 in Washington County and the Arizona Strip. Every month we serve 600 children through Early Head Start, Early Intervention and Parents as Teachers home visiting programs. If you’re in the St. George area, we’d love to partner with you!

2. Recruit

You can host the drive on your own or you can partner with family members, friends, church groups, school groups, etc. to reach an even broader audience. Decide together who you want to support and go to the next step…

3. Define Timeframe and Drop-Off Location(s)

Decide when you want to take the donations to the organization. You can check with the organization first to see if there any preferred donation drop off dates and times (especially during the holidays and COVID-19). Define a drop-off location and give people enough time to bring the donations (at least 2 weeks).

Donation Box | Root for Kids

Our next fundraiser event is the Drive-Thru Radiothon on December 14, 2020. We are encouraging people to stop by Root for Kids (2044 S. Mesa Palms Drive – St. George, UT 84770) between 6:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. to drop off donations. 

4. Spread the Word

Now that you have all the details sorted out, you are ready to get the word out about your donation drive! You can create a flyer or poster to take around the neighborhood and make it an image as well to share on social media. You want to include the following details:

  • The organization you are benefiting and a little bit about what they do
  • Wish list of items needed
  • Drop-off dates and location
  • Your contact information

Again, you can always contact the organization to see if they already have something designed you can use. If you’re interested in hosting a drive for Root for Kids, feel free to download the image below to share and the PDF for printing.

Donation Drive | Root for Kids

5. Gather and Deliver

Collect donations from the drop off location(s) and deliver them to the organization you picked. Don’t forget to take pictures and share on social media (tagging the organization), so your followers and people who donated know they’ve made an impact!

We hope you have found these tips helpful and are motivated to do something for your community this holiday season. Feel free to use the materials on this post and on the Radiothon page to host your donation drive benefitting Root for Kids. 


2020 Root for Kids Awards

Every year, Root for Kids recognizes key partners and individuals in our community who go above and beyond to support our mission. Due to COVID-19, we delivered the awards to each awardee prior to our virtual gala. Meet the 2020 Root for Kids award recipients –

Outstanding Community Partner: Southern Utah Home Builders Association

SUHBA | 2020 Root for Kids Awards

Southern Utah Home Builders Care Foundation is a nonprofit charitable arm of Southern Utah Home Builders Association. They have come to our rescue in many ways by providing much needed construction related services. 

They are organized, dedicated, and have so much energy! We are happy and grateful they chose to help us. They came ready to serve as they made repairs to our main building, hung our main Root for Kids sign, laid concrete for our childcare trike path, and more improvement projects during the Southern Utah Home Builders Association for Service Days. We are grateful for this partnership and could not be happier to select them for such a well-deserved award.  

Outstanding Health Partner: Danyelle Evans

Danyelle Evans | 2020 Root for Kids Awards

Danyelle has been a part of the Root for Kids family since 2003, when she was a student at Dixie State University. During that time, Danyelle was instrumental in establishing dental clinic days for enrolled families and invited them to participate in “DSU Sealant Saturdays”. Now, 17 years later, this has transformed into personalized dental clinics twice a semester, and biannual dental sealant service days specifically for Root for Kids families.

Danyelle has been a guest speaker multiple times at our Early Head Start Parent Nights, providing education on the importance of oral health for children and pregnant women, and has donated oral supplies for participating parents. She has assisted us in writing grants for increased oral care screening and preventive care. Danyelle has been involved in our annual Gala and Radiothon, serving on our Events Committee, and securing sponsors and donations for the events. 

Outstanding Volunteer: Intermountain Healthcare – Dixie Regional Medical Center

DRMC  | 2020 Root for Kids Awards

To strengthen our partnership and to have a meaningful service opportunity in our community, a group of administrators and leaders from Intermountain Healthcare/Dixie Regional Medical Center organized a team of 25 healthcare leaders to volunteer with us. There was no job too small or too large for them. They colored, painted, glued, cut, made fishing kits, lacing kits, and other educational and play toys. Everyone was busy serving and we had so much fun having them over!

The team handles day to day admin responsibilities as leaders of the largest healthcare facility in Southern Utah and are heroes to many as they work for the benefit of our health. Thank you for your time, and for supporting our cause!

Outstanding Business: TDS Telecom

TDS Telecom  | 2020 Root for Kids Awards

Whether it is donating internet services, contributing hundreds of volunteer hours, or partnering to meet the critical needs of our community; TDS has a rich history with Root for Kids. Under the direction of Brenda Cody, Field Marketing Manager, TDS is not a business that sits back and waits idly for opportunities, but rather is proactive, innovative, and intentional in their approach to give back.

In response to COVID-19 Root for Kids opened a One Utah Childcare program which provided free childcare for essential personnel such as health care workers and first responders. TDS quickly stepped up to the plate and made a significant financial contribution in addition to donating personal protective equipment, diapers, formula, and educational materials to ensure the safety and well being of some of our most vulnerable populations.

Outstanding Donor: Bob Richards & Associates

Bob Richards and Associates  | 2020 Root for Kids Awards

Bob Richards is known as a pillar in our community. A man of integrity, service, and leadership. “Consider it done” is not just Bob’s slogan, it is his standard, value, and his way of life. With a thoughtful understanding of the needs of our families Bob showed up at our agency with a smile on his face and a truck load of diapers. What started out as a very thoughtful gesture has now turned into an annual tradition. Bob’s generosity has been evidenced repeatedly and his contributions continue to amaze us.

This past year Bob not only showed up with a truck load of diapers, but to our surprise was pulling a trailer with diapers stacked to the ceiling. Over the past four years Bob has saved our agency thousands of dollars which has allowed us to serve more children and families in our community. 

Debbie Justice Legacy Award: Jennifer Neal Madsen

Jennifer Neal Madsen  | 2020 Root for Kids Awards

The Debbie Justice Legacy Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated, encouraged, and exemplified actions that have enriched our organization’s integrity as well as impacted the lives of the many children and families we serve. It is with great appreciation and admiration that I present this year’s Debbie Justice Legacy Award to Jennifer Neal Madsen.

While dabbling in the arena of construction this past year I witnessed a process in build design that I truly believe describes Jenn’s example and value to me personally and to our organization. Sometimes an existing joist, which was designed to handle a certain load, becomes compromised. When a builder needs to strengthen that joist, she puts a new member right next to the original one and fastens the two together. They call this a sister joist. You cannot build a strong beautiful complicated structure, whether it is a building or a life, without sistering. Consistently for the past five years Jenn has demonstrated sistering. With her self-commitment to Root for Kids as a past board president, current vice president, donor, and friend.

We are grateful for the many businesses and community members that help us nurture strong beginnings in Washington County and the Arizona Strip. Join us on December 14, 2020 for our Drive-Thru Radiothon!

The Secret Garden Gala: Home Edition raises over $60k for Root for Kids

When COVID-19 hit earlier in the spring, we had to quickly adapt to continue to provide services for hundreds of children in Washington County and the Arizona strip. The same adjustments (and experiments) extended to our signature events such as graduation and annual gala.

The Secret Garden Gala: Home Edition took place on Saturday, September 12, 2020 with the support of 18 sponsors and 132 guests who joined us online from Washington County, Salt Lake City and Idaho. Between sponsorships, ticket sales, auction and monetary donations we are excited to announce that the unprecedented virtual event raised $68,128, exceeding our $60,000 goal. See how The Secret Garden Gala: Home Edition came to life.

Root for Kids Main Stage

With a little help from our friends Fred Walker and Tyler Hunsaker (“The Lounge Lizards”), Brother’s Keeper Sound Production and our wonderful staff , we broadcasted the Gala program live from the Conference Room at Root for Kids. We would also like to thank Haylee Cazarin from Southern Pop Designs for doing the beautiful tree for the background!

Auction | The Secret Garden Gala: Home Edition
Zoom Broadcasting | The Secret Garden Gala: Home Edition
Behind the Scenes | The Secret Garden Gala: Home Edition

Home Parties

We had 26 parties spread across Washington County, Salt Lake City and Idaho, from individuals and couples to parties. Guests were invited to join the Gala remotely however they felt more comfortable. A few parties decided to combine tables at their place of business, while other hosted guests at home. They all connected to the Gala program via Zoom and participated in the auction through an online platform. On the days leading up to the event, all guests received a printed program and a Root for Kids coaster made locally by 2112 Memories with a handprinted Thank You card from the kids at the Caterpillar Clubhouse. Party hosts also received a Secret Garden centerpiece by Botanicals.

Table set | The Secret Garden Gala
Dixie 4-Wheel Drive Party | The Secret Garden Gala
Party Bags  The Secret Garden Gala
Southern Utah Dental Hygienists Association  The Secret Garden Gala
Nothing Bundt Cakes  The Secret Garden Gala
House Party  The Secret Garden Gala
Litehouse | The Secret Garden Gala
Litehouse  The Secret Garden Gala

Supporting Local Businesses

Another fun fact about The Secret Garden Gala: Home Edition is that on top of benefitting hundreds of families served by Root for Kids with the money raised, we as an organization were able to involve many local businesses in the process and support them as well. Guests had the option to select a local or locally-owned restaurant to purchase their meals from for the event. For dessert, our friends at Nothing Bundt Cakes donated their amazing White Chocolate Raspberry cake and delivered them to all guests!

Local businesses involved:

  • Katering Koncepts (donated tables, chairs and linens to larger parties)
  • Nothing Bundt Cakes (donated desserts)
  • Botanicals (donated a large portion of our centerpieces)
  • 2112 Memories (purchased Root for Kids coasters from)
  • Steamroller Copies (printed programs and table tents)
  • Adrian’s (donated tuxes for emcees)
  • All Seasons Garden & Floral (purchased centerpiece for Idaho party)
  • Native Flower Company (purchased centerpiece for Salt Lake City party)
  • Southern Pop Designs (balloon tree for stage)
  • Brother’s Keeper (sound production)

Local restaurants supported by purchasing dining gift cards:

  • Cliffside Restaurant
  • Benja Thai & Sushi
  • Anasazi Steakhouse
  • Rib & Chop House
  • Magelby’s
  • Sakura Japanese Steakhouse
  • Red Fort Cuisine of India
  • Royal Thai Cuisine
  • Riggati’s Wood Fire Pizza
  • Paula’s Mexican Food
  • Morty’s Café
  • Café Rio
  • Main Street Café in Hurricane

We are grateful to everyone who helped make this special night happen. Check out more event photos on our Facebook page! Thank you to our wonderful sponsors and guests who believe in our work and want the best for the kids in our community. We hope to see you again soon at our Drive-Thru Radiothon on December 14, 2020.

What a Virtual Speech Therapy Session Looks Like

With most of our services being home-based, Root for Kids had to quickly adapt to a new reality when the social-distancing and quarantine guidelines hit mid-March. Since then we have moved our home visits online to ensure our staff and clients stay safe and healthy. But how does that work? Emily Sonzogni, M.S., CCC-SLP, shared a few insights of what a virtual speech therapy session looks like.

Pretend Birthday Party

Elmo has had lots of birthday parties the last few months! We get to build a cake for him, sing to him, blow out his candles, blow up balloons for him, wear party hats, and open presents to practice naming objects. I just had a family today say, “Ever since Elmo’s birthday party, he’s been talking about Elmo all the time!” Memorable activity that allows the family to carryover celebrating Elmo’s birthday all day!

What a Virtual Speech Therapy Session Looks Like | Root for Kids

Building Tower

A child will help me build a tower by saying “up… up… up!” and then when they say “wham!” I knock it over. They love hearing a big crash! It’s great to use simple toys to show families ways to practice language with toys they have at home.

What a Virtual Speech Therapy Session Looks Like | Root for Kids

Know Your Animals

We have been practicing lots of animal names and sounds the last few months. Kids will tell me to “open” this clear container, tell me which animal to get out, give me directions to put the animals “in” or “on” or “under” the container, and sing “Old McDonald had a Farm.”

What a Virtual Speech Therapy Session Looks Like | Root for Kids


I can’t get enough of reading books to young children! I love reading books to children virtually to model some simple reading strategies and give parents tips on how to engage their children in book reading more often. Teaching families about the value of reading to their children and problem solving ways to increase their child’s attention span is probably one of my biggest passions as a speech-language pathologist.

What a Virtual Speech Therapy Session Looks Like | Root for Kids

Learning Routine

Today I used my daughter’s dollhouse for a session for the first time. The child got to tell me which figures he wanted to play with, open and close the garage doors, help me feed the family, tell them to walk “up” and “down” stairs, take a bath, and go “night night.” Great way to model simple language strategies for families, and fun interactive way to engage with the child.

What a Virtual Speech Therapy Session Looks Like | Root for Kids

We are grateful for Emily and all of our wonderful staff for rising up to the challenge during these uncertain times. To support the work that we are doing, join us on September 12 for The Secret Garden Gala – Home Edition!

Root for Kids serves pregnant women and children from birth to age five in Washington County, Utah and the Arizona Strip. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, fill out our referral form.