Donate a Tender Critter to Junior Auxiliary and Get Something Special from Chico's Outlet and White House/Black Market Outlet

Junior Auxiliary of Taney County (JATC) and Chico’s Outlet and White House/Black Market invite the community to a first-time event benefiting the children and families of Taney County.  As part of JATC’s annual Tender Critters drive in February, Chico’s Outlet will be providing opportunities to win fabulous prizes during their Style Show on February 18th (weather delay date February 25th).  The event will be held at the Chico’s Outlet store at Tanger Mall beginning at 1pm with Scarf Demonstrations and Slimming Secrets.

Each year in February, JATC holds its annual drive to replenish the supply of stuffed animals in the Emergency Department at Cox Medical Center-Branson. JATC members 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.  In the past 12 months, JATC delivered 1,440 stuffed animals to the ER for this purpose and they expect the number to increase every year.

Cindy Carnelison, Chico’s Outlet Store Manager at Tanger Mall in Branson, offered to partner with Junior Auxiliary after her granddaughters and another manager’s granddaughter received stuffed animals when they visited the ER and she found out how those critters are collected.  During the month of February until February 18th, anyone who brings a new stuffed animal for the JATC Tender Critters Drive to the Chico’s Outlet or White House/Black Market stores at Tanger Mall will receive an entry into a drawing for prizes.  In lieu of a new stuffed animal, a $5.00 donation at the Style Show on Feb. 18th will also receive an entry into the drawing for prizes.

“Tender Critters” is one of the longest running projects for JATC, with members donating new stuffed animals at each of their monthly meetings.  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.  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”.  For the past several years, the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 913, has also partnered in this effort by collecting hundreds of stuffed animals.  Recently, the project received a generous donation of 25 stuffed animals from Party Magic.

JATC also welcomes businesses, churches and other groups to hold ongoing collection efforts throughout the year.  In addition to Chico’s Outlet and White House/Black Market at Tanger Mall, collection bins will also be at Binswanger Glass in Branson, CoxHealth Fitness Center at the RecPlex, Branson Bank on Hwy 248, Regions Bank in downtown Branson, Central Bank in Downtown Branson, Arvest Bank on Hwy 248 & Gretna Road and St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church in Branson.

JATC members strive to develop and execute projects that improve the mental, physical, social and emotional well-being of children and families in Taney County.  More information about the organization and its projects is available at   Approximately 50 members annually contribute more than 4,000 volunteer hours on projects including Santa’s Gift House; College Scholarships for a seniors at all four Taney County public high schools; Prom Dresses for girls in need; Heart of the Arts supporting arts activities for clients of the Developmental Center; Learners Today-Leaders Tomorrow (LT2) to enhance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies at Bradleyville Elementary School; financial and labor support for the Women’s Crisis Center; School Supplies “refreshment” in January for elementary schools; andHomework Helpers 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 and a Silent Auction.  This year the 17th Annual Trivia Challenge and Silent Auction will be held at the Radisson Hotel in Branson on March 25, 2017.   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 corporate charitable giving (e.g., Amazon Smile, Usborne Books), generous local businesses (e.g., Doug Baker State Farm Insurance, Ozark Mountain Ear Nose & Throat, Mr. G’s Pizza, 417 Fundraising), grants and individual donations.

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. 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:, February 5, 2017; Branson Tri-Lakes News, February 4, 2017