Junior Auxiliary of Taney County (JATC) is conducting its annual “Tender Critters” drive during February to replenish the supply of stuffed animals at the Emergency Department at Cox Medical Center-Branson as well as other trauma centers in the area. When children face the confusing and often scary experience of a hospital emergency room visit or a hospital stay, a cuddly stuffed animal can be the difference between anxiety and reassurance. Something as simple as a small fleece-covered bag of beans, cotton batting or polyester fluff, with the addition of a couple of plastic eyes and perhaps a satin ribbon, can become a source of security, support and comfort for a child.
“Tender Critters” is one of the longest running projects for JATC, with members donating new stuffed animals at each of their monthly meetings. For the past several years, the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 913, has partnered in this effort by collecting stuffed animals. VVA Vice President Bob Sarver and Lois Simmons attended the JATC Chapter’s February meeting to deliver approximately 100 stuffed animals from their own collection efforts.
Community members can brighten a child’s day by donating new stuffed animals that are 18 inches or smaller. Collection bins for community donations are currently available at Binswanger Glass in Branson, Coxhealth Fitness Center (Recplex) and Hwy 248 location of Branson Bank (until Feb. 22). It’s a small effort that can make a big impact on a child’s time in the hospital. Monetary donations are also encouraged for purchase of new stuffed animals. Donations can be sent to JATC, PO Box 862, Hollister, MO 65673. More information can be found on the Junior Auxiliary website JATCMO.ORG, their Facebook page, Junior Auxiliary of Taney County or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tender Critters is one of many service projects that JATC members provide to the community. Others include School Supplies in January; Santa’s Gift House; College Readiness programs and scholarships; prom dresses for girls in need; Journey, a mentoring project for young women; support for the Women’s Crisis Center, in which they provide home improvement and monetary support for one of the cottages; and Book Swap Stop/Homework Helpers, in which they provide snacks, enrichment programs, reading and homework help for children who live in extended-stay motels.
Members raise money for these projects through one major event - a fun Trivia Challenge with dinner, live entertainment, a raffle 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. Also, JATC raises money from other events such as Belk’s Charity Days, Schwan’s Cares and the Branson Women’s Expo as well as donations from businesses including Doug Baker State Farm Insurance, Ozark Mountain Ear Nose & Throat, Combs Hotel Properties, Central Bank of Branson and D.S. & F. Plumbing.
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. It was chartered by a group of caring, enthusiastic women in 1998 and continues to grow and thrive throughout Taney County. Approximately 50 members annually contribute more than 4,000 volunteer hours 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. Their slogan is “Care Today-Character Tomorrow”.
Published: Hometown Daily News, 106.3 KRZK, February 13, 2016; Branson Tri-Lakes News, February 13, 2016
Appeared on KY3 News at Noon with Steve Grant on February 16, 2016