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

Junior Auxiliary of Taney County (JATC) Tender Critters Committee was overwhelmed with the generosity of the community as they collected Tender Critters from businesses and organizations around Branson last month.  Members were delighted to collect 438 “Tender Critters” for the Cox Medical Center-Branson Emergency Room.  Each year in February, JATC holds its annual drive to replenish the supply of stuffed animals in the Emergency Department.  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.

Each year the number of local businesses and organizations who collect critters increases.  The recent collection included animals donated by the employees, customers and members of the following businesses and organizations:  Arvest Bank, Belk, Binswanger Glass, Branson Bank, Central Bank, Chico’s Outlet, CoxHealth Fitness Center, Regions Bank, PEO-Chapter IB, Party Magic, St. Joseph’s Anglican Church and White House/Black Market. In addition to collecting Critters, Chico’s Outlet held a fashion show and encouraged customers of their store and White House/Black Market to support the effort by donating either a Critter or $5 to be entered into a drawing for prizes at their store. In addition to the annual collection drive, members of the congregations of United Methodist Church and the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 913 have partnered in this effort the past several years by collecting stuffed animals throughout the year.

 “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 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.

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 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, AmazonSmile, Give Ozarks Day and the Branson Women’s Expo, grants and individual donations.  Generous local businesses also donate to JATC’s various events including Doug Baker State Farm Insurance, Ozark Mountain Ear Nose & Throat, Mr. G’s Pizza, Binswanger Glass, Chateau on the Lake, Big Cedar, State Park Marina, 417 Fundraising, Usborne Books, Central Bank, Dale Sanders American Family Insurance and Branson Bank.

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 by: Branson Tri-Lakes News, March 22, 2017