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.
Senior girls at all four Taney County High Schools are invited to shop for prom essentials in a boutique atmosphere at no cost to their families. This event is by invitation only and invitations were distributed by counselors at each high school in Taney County to girls that they feel could use a hand-up from this project.
Attendees are always in “awe” upon entering the event. Comments like “This is free?” and “Are you sure? We didn’t bring any money.” are heard throughout the event. Not only are the girls treated to new dresses and accessories, but they are provided with snacks to help them feel even more pampered.
The Prom Dress Event lasts about 6 hours, but the heartfelt experience lasts much longer. The expressions of thanks that JATC members hear will stay with them forever and makes them strive to improve this project each year.
For that reason, the Prom Dress Event is a big hit for the Junior Auxiliary of Taney County (JATC) members and high school seniors alike. Each year 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”.
28 young women, referred by their high school counselors were invited to the Prom Dress Event and 15 of those young women accompanied by mothers, fathers, grandmothers, siblings and friends, tried on dresses in all styles, colors and sizes. 13 JATC volunteers participated in the 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.
One JATC member was moved to tears when a young lady she had helped with a dress got ready to leave with her fairy princess dress. They even became friends on Instagram so that Prom pictures could be shared. The girls’ comments showed how truly appreciative they were to be able to get what they needed for their prom. “This was my first time doing this kind of thing. I had fun (even if I was frazzled).” “Fantastic experience! 1st dress I tried on was perfect.” “I enjoyed all the dresses and the positive energy coming from all the lovely ladies. Thank you for helping me find the perfect dress!” “Thank you all for being so nice and helpful. We had so much fun.” “The ladies made me feel like a princess! This means so much to me to be able to feel pretty at prom like everyone else! Everyone was so helpful and this has really made my senior prom special! Thank you so much!”
The Prom Dress Project is one of many service projects that JATC members provide to the community. Other projects include Santa’s Gift House; College Scholarships for a senior at all four Taney County public high schools; Tender Critters; “Empowering the Little Dreamers” at the Crisis Center of Taney County; School Supplies “refreshment” in January for elementary schools; and Book Swaps 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 19th Annual Trivia Challenge and Silent Auction will be held at the Radisson Hotel in Branson on April 6, 2019. JATC raises money from other events such as Belk’s Charity Days, Mr. G’s Annual JATC Days, AmazonSmile, 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; Binswanger Glass; State Park Marina; Central Bank; First Community Bank; Ollis, Akers, and Arney Insurance; Mac McGregor at Edward Jones; White River Valley Electric, Inc; Liberty Utilities; 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, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Their slogan is “Care Today-Character Tomorrow”.