Mikey’s Christmas Jar

By Staff

The idea came from Jason Wright’s 2005 book Christmas Jars (2005: Shadow Mountain) and became a Beard family tradition. All year long, a large mason jar sits on their kitchen counter, gathering change from pockets and purses.

Several years ago, instead of growing, mother Jill and father Mike noticed the money in the jar was dwindling. Their older som Mikey, who was a prisoner to his addictions, was to blame. Instead of giving to the jar, the contents of which would go to a family in deed to support their Christmas wishes, Mikey had been taking.

After a long, exhausting battle, multiple stays in rehab and time in the local jail, Mikey finally found recovery through nine months in residential treatment with Odyssey House, a private nonprofit organization that has been providing substance abuse, mental health and medical care to Utahns for over 43 years.

After Mikey returned home, the Christmas Jar began filling-up rapidly, not only with small chane but with bills, large and small. Mike noticed and one of Mikey’s younger brothers explained that Mikey had been putting his paycheck in the jar. He was making amends for what he had taken from others over the years, by giving back to the family who would receive the Christmas Jar that year.

Sadly, as committed as Mikey was to his recovery and helping others, he was not invincible. He had a rough week and chose to use one last time. Mikey had been clean for over a year but lost his battle with heroin in just one night. HE passed away Memorial Day 2013.

Since that day, Mikey’s family members have become Champions of recovery. His mother Jill commits her life to connection those who are struggling with addiction to treatment through her work with Odyssey House. Jill, Mike and their Children memorialized Mikey’s battle and loss by sharing the Christmas Jar with hundreds of families last year through the Mikey’s Christmas Jar Store and other community fundraising events.

The Christmas Jar store Event will take place at Odyssey House of Utah’s Outpatient Program (350 East 2100 South, Salt Lake City) on December 13. Learn how you can adopt a family (wish list provided) or make a donations. For more information:

  • See Facebook at Mikey’s Christmas Jar
  • Call 801.602.8633
  • email Mikeyschrsitmasjar@gmail.com
  • Visit this website


Odyssey House, a private, non-profit organization, serves teens, adults and families, Odyssey House addresses the needs of the entire person through programs including substance use disorder treatment; mental health therapy; medications management; medical services; life skills training; vocational rehabilitation; educaction services; housing; psychiatric services and recreation. for more info visit here.


Christina Zidow, LCSW. Christina is chief operating officer of Odyssey House of Utah. czidow@odysseyhouse.org

This article was originally published on December 1, 2014.