Taney County, MO – School is back in session but some children don’t have an opportunity to get help with their homework or go to a library for books they would like to read. This is why members of the Junior Auxiliary of Taney County (JATC) are now servicing a second extended-stay motel with their Book Swap service project, in collaboration with two Branson elementary school teachers, Jacki Lee and Sara Pardeck, who originally initiated it.
Since 2014, JATC members have operated a monthly “book swap” at one of the extended-stay motels in Branson where the women maintain a revolving supply of books in a variety of subjects that the children can borrow. In addition, each Wednesday afternoon, JATC members meet approximately 5 - 7 children in grades K – 12 coming off the school buses and have snacks and drinks available for them. JATC members also read with the children and contribute to the children’s development and learning by offering after-school homework help. During the past year, the project continued to evolve to meet the children’s needs. They work with the children on various projects to provide enrichment in various STEAM activities - Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. In addition, children are engaged in activities that help them develop eye-hand coordination, life skills, social skills, decision-making and community safety awareness.
As a result of the need in other extended-stay motels and the desire on the part of the JATC volunteers to help more children, they spoke with the elementary school teachers and were given permission to take over the Book Swap project at a second motel this summer. They took books to the motel, provided a snack, and helped the kids pick out books they might like. Also, members supplied school supplies, hygiene supplies and backpacks (where needed) for children living at the extended-stay motels who were not able to attend any of the other local backpack programs.
The Book Swap/Homework Helpers project joins other Junior Auxiliary projects providing services and support to children and families in Taney County. Currently JATC members support and operate eleven projects including Santa’s Gift House; College Readiness programs and scholarships; prom dresses for girls in need; stuffed animals for children in the local hospitals; Journey, a mentoring project for young women; and Heart of Arts, in which members donate art & craft materials and/or work on projects with adults with disabilities at Developmental Connections.
Members raise money for these projects through one major event - a fun Trivia Challenge with dinner, live entertainment and a Silent Auction. This year the 16th Annual Trivia Challenge and Silent Auction will be held at the Radisson Hotel in Branson on April 2, 2016. The women also have social events that contribute to the fun and passion they demonstrate while helping the community. Check out the organization’s website, JATCMO.org, or call Membership Chair, Linda Lewis, at (417) 527-3963, to find out more or to get involved.
JATC has been selected as the sole beneficiary of the first annual Branson Women’s Expo being held Oct. 10 – 11 at the West Wing Conference Center on Gretna Road. JATC is more than a nonprofit organization, it’s a group of women united by a single cause and dedicated to helping the children of Taney County. That’s the magic of JATC. Approximately 50 members annually contribute more than 4,000 volunteer hours and thousands of dollars as they strive to improve the mental, physical, social and emotional well-being of children in Taney County.
JATC is part of the National Association of Junior Auxiliaries (NAJA), a non-profit organization founded in 1941 with headquarters in Greenville, Mississippi. NAJA has more than 15,500 active, associate and life members in 98 chapters located in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. The NAJA Graduate Scholarship Program has awarded more than $1,203,859 since its inception in 1963 to persons who work, or plan to work, directly with children. Their slogan is “Care Today-Character Tomorrow”.
Photo Caption: JATC members Selina West, Donna Harris, Teresa Russell, Bobbie Gilpin and Cindi Saltzgiver, who help the children in the Book Swap & Homework Helpers program
Published: Branson Tri-Lakes News, October 10, 2015