For some girls, high school prom is a time to look forward to – being with their friends, dressing up and feeling like a princess for a night. For others, it is a time of anxiety and sadness because they may not have the funds to buy the dress, shoes and accessories that they need.
For that reason, the Prom Dress Event is such a big hit for the JATC members and high school seniors alike. Each year, at the end of winter, JATC members convert their meeting space to dressing rooms and display areas for dresses, accessories, shoes and make-up. JA volunteers collect dresses and accessories year-round for this weekend event at which girls who would otherwise not be able to take part in their prom can say ”yes to a dress”.
Approximately 30 young women, referred by their high school counselors and accompanied by mothers, grandmothers, siblings and friends, tried on dresses in all styles, colors and sizes. Eighteen JA volunteers participated in the two-day event, providing refreshments, helping to select dresses, assisting with zippers, offering encouragement, suggesting accessories and applauding choices. Many girls would not be able to attend the prom if not for the dress and other items provided by JATC.
The girls’ comments showed how truly appreciative they were to be able to get what they needed for their prom. “We are so grateful and appreciative for this wonderful blessing! All of the ladies were so helpful and sweet.” “I absolutely loved being here. One dress and it was perfect for me. The ladies that were here complimented me and made me feel super pretty...like a princess or like I was the cutest girl in the room. And for me, that’s super important. I want to thank everyone that was here. My experience was amazing. Big thumbs up!” “ The dress is absolutely gorgeous! Thank you all so much, you’re the sweetest!” “I had a wonderful experience. The ladies were all so nice and with their help I’m sure to look like a princess on prom night.”
The Prom Dress Project is one of many service projects that JATC members provide to the community. Other projects include School Supplies in January; Tender Critters; Santa’s Gift House; College Readiness programs and scholarships; support for the Women’s Crisis Center; Heart of Arts, in which members donate art & craft materials for adults with disabilities at Developmental Connections; 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 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.
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 was 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, AmazonSmile, Give Ozarks Day 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, April 13, 2016