Junior Auxiliary of Taney County Invites Children to Santa's Gift House

For the ninth straight year, Junior Auxiliary of Taney County (JATC) is inviting children to shop for holiday gifts in Santa’s Gift House. As the spirit of an Ozark Mountain Christmas permeates the air, the elves of Junior Auxiliary are putting the finishing touches on the more than 1800 gifts they have crafted in preparation for Santa’s Gift House, a highly anticipated annual event set for December 8, 2018, at the Branson United Methodist Church Family Life Center at 1208 West 76 Country Blvd in Branson from 9 am – 12 noon.  Children in grades K-4 from elementary schools throughout Taney County are invited to come to shop for presents for their family members, friends, and/or teachers accompanied by JA shoppers so that found treasures will remain surprises until Christmas morning.  Shoppers pay $.50 each for up to four presents, giving them the experience of sharing what they have with others.  Once they have made their choices, the children are guided to the area where their gifts are wrapped, and gift cards applied. 

 Santa’s Gift House is a fun event for both children and adults.  Children go “shopping” for high quality gifts which include snow globes, ornaments, colorful paintings, marshmallow shooters, M&M rocks, wooden reindeers, plush toys, hats, scarves, candy jars, decorative items, and doggie chew toys, among many others.  The gifts have been handcrafted by members of JATC so that these children can have meaningful gifts to give to others. The elves have handcrafted over 1800 gifts to choose from as they are accompanied by JATC members who serve as their personal shoppers.

 Family members wait in seated comfort and enjoy warm beverages and treats prepared by Santa’s JA elves.  Those who wish can select items from the “Free Table” stocked with seasonal trimmings and other small items.  

 A craft area is also available where children can make decorations to take home.  Topping it off is Santa, listening to the sometimes whispered, sometimes shouted Christmas wishes, and JATC provides books for Santa to give each child.

 JATC appreciates the following community members who have helped with this year’s Santa’s Gift House: Branson United Methodist Church, Tanger Shopping Mall, Lowe’s, Liberty Exposition Services, Inc., L & J Plumbing, and AJ Elite Nails and Spa.

 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.

 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 jatcmo@gmail.com.

 Currently, JATC members finance and operate twelve projects including Santa’s Gift House, creating hand-crafted gift items for children to choose and experience the joy of giving; College Scholarships for a senior at all four Taney County public high schools and ScholarCare, a renewable 4-year scholarship; Prom Dresses for girls in need; Tender Critters stuffed animals to be distributed to children in local hospitals; Heart of the Arts supporting arts activities for clients of the Developmental Center; Learners Today-Leaders Tomorrow providing materials and volunteer support to enhance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies at Mark Twain Elementary School; support for The Crisis Center, including respite care and birthday parties and building a playground for resident children;  School Supplies “refreshment” in January for Kirbyville, Bradleyville, Mark Twain, and Taneyville  elementary schools; Emergency Fund assistance to enable OTC students to continue their studies; Christmas Assistance where members shop for adopted children whose names are supplied by school welfare office; and  Book Swap, providing a revolving supply of books for children who live in extended-stay motels.  Through these and other activities JATC’s approximately 50 members contribute more than 4000 volunteer hours annually as they strive to improve the mental, physical, social and emotional well-being of children in Taney County. 

 Members raise money for these projects through one major event - a fun Trivia Challenge with dinner, live entertainment, a raffle and a Silent Auction held in the spring each year. Next year the 19th Annual Trivia Challenge and Silent Auction “Down by the Sea” will be held at the Radisson Hotel in Branson on April 6, 2019. Mark your calendars now for this great event!

 JATC also raises money from other events such as Belk’s Charity Days, Schwan’s Cares, AmazonSmile, Mr. G’s Annual JATC Days, Quarter Mania Paddle Party, grants and individual donations.  Generous local businesses and individuals also donate to JATC’s various events including Doug Baker State Farm Insurance, Ozark Mountain Ear Nose & Throat, Binswanger Glass, Chateau on the Lake, Big Cedar, State Park Marina, Central Bank of Branson, First Community Bank of Branson, Branson Hot Tubs & Pools, Branson Bank, Lowe’s, Ozarks Family Vision Center, Sir Speedy Printing, Edward Jones-Mitch Holmes, The Farmhouse Restaurant, Judge Tiffany Yarnell, and many more. 

 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. 

Published by: Branson Daily Independent, November 16, 2018