Jingle Jog 2021

Event founder leads her final Jingle Jog
Posted on 12/21/2021
Jenifer Richardson and Kristie Robinson

The annual Jingle Jog, an Oak Grove tradition of 17 years, combines charity, physical fitness and goal-setting, as well as community involvement during a Christmas-themed parade.

While she does not take full credit, this unique event pulls various elements from the diverse background of founder Jenifer Richardson, who recently announced her retirement as Oak Grove principal effective at the end of the school year.

“I do hope it continues so I’m able to come back as a volunteer, and still be a part of it,” said Richardson on Tuesday, Dec. 14, at the conclusion of the Jingle Jog. “If not, we’re going out on a really strong note.”

Over 1,900 nonperishable food items generated by students were donated to the Bread Shed, the nonprofit of choice this year. Students estimate how far they can run within five minutes in the parking lot, and vow to bring in one canned good per lap.

Organizations that volunteered included River Radio, Chad McCoy Memorial Foundation, Bread Shed, Sleep in Heavenly Peace, U.S. Forest Service with Smokey Bear, Poplar Bluff Police Department, Chartwells, JROTC, PBHS StuCo and the Junior High Life Skills class. Floats in the parade included UTVs, trucks, a Jeep, convertible, bass boat, tractor, sleigh and a motorcycle escorting Santa Claus. Animals included a pair of dogs, goats and a miniature horse.

“It might have been our best one yet, in terms of community support,” Richardson reflected. “Every year we build upon what we do.”

The Jingle Jog began at Oak Grove Elementary during the first leg of Richardson’s career as a physical fitness instructor. She said she attended a state physical fitness convention at the time where she likely borrowed the concept.

“I’m sure I stole a great idea from somebody somewhere, and tweaked it to fit our Christmas theme,” Richardson recalled. “Service projects were big at the time, and it may have been a session about putting on a turkey trot.”

Richardson has spent the past 12 years of her 25-year tenure with the district serving as principal of Oak Grove, where she also happened to have attended elementary school as a girl. She said the Jingle Jog has been one of the schoolwide activities she has enjoyed being a part of the most. 

“It’s one of my favorite things we do,” Richardson said. “I think it’s something our staff really loves. Everyone sort of pulls together.”

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Cutline: Riding on the back of teacher Kristie Robinson’s bike, Oak Grove Principal Jenifer Richardson allows herself to enjoy her final Jingle Jog perhaps a little more than usual.

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