Community Delivers "Tender Critters" for Children in the Emergency Room

Junior Auxiliary of Taney County (JATC) members were delighted to collect hundreds of “Tender Critters” for the Cox Medical Center-Branson last month.  Each year in February, JATC holds its annual drive to replenish the supply of stuffed animals in the Emergency Department. They deliver the stuffed animals each week to the staff so they can give them to children who visit the ER or need to stay in the hospital.

The recent delivery included animals donated by the community collected at the following businesses:  Binswanger Glass, Branson Bank, Cox Health Fitness Center and Mini Circuits. In addition, members of the congregations of St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church as well as United Methodist Church contribute to the Tender Critters collection throughout the year.  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.

“Tender Critters” is one of the longest running projects for JATC, with members donating new stuffed animals at each of their monthly meetings.  This collection is a year-round effort and JATC invites members of the community to help brighten a child’s day by donating a “tender critter”.  JATC also welcomes businesses, churches and other groups to hold ongoing collection efforts throughout the year.  It’s a small effort that can make a big impact on a child’s time in the hospital. 

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; 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.

More information on JATC can be found on the Junior Auxiliary website JATCMO.ORG, their Facebook page, Junior Auxiliary of Taney County or via email at

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.  Generous local businesses also donate money to JATC’s various events including Doug Baker State Farm Insurance, Ozark Mountain Ear Nose & Throat, Combs Hotel Properties, Mr. G’s Pizza, Mitch Holmes/Edward D. Jones Financial Advisor, Central Bank of Branson, D.S. & F. Plumbing, White River Valley Electric, Thousand Hills Realty, Lowe’s and Pinegar Chevrolet.

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: Branson Daily Independent, March 27, 2016