Feng Shui the JA Way

February 1, 2008 | By More

Story by Dianne Edwards

A pair of shoes. Medicine for a sick child. Belongings to replace those lost in a fire.

These are just a few of the items that the Russellville Chapter of Junior Auxiliary will help with during the coming year. And, without the funds generated through their annual Charity Ball, these wouldn’t be possible.

The organization, which first began in the 1940s as a group of women who distributed milk to elementary students, has touched the lives of thousands of Russellville area students whose needs might otherwise not be met.

If one doubts the effectiveness of this organization or questions the amount and use of monies raised each year, they only have to accompany one of the group’s child welfare members when they go into an elementary school and see how those funds are spent.

Delivering clothes to a child who might not have adequate clothing, a warm coat, a hat and gloves might seem like a trivial task for a woman whose life is surrounded with those things others might only dream of. But, once you gaze into the eyes of a child that you’ve just handed a pair of $17 tennis shoes, you realize just what has been given. In our lives of plenty, we often do not realize just what need surrounds us.

But, before one gets an idea that members in the group are “check-writers,” consider that the group rolls up their sleeves and gives a minimum of 5,000 volunteer hours to implement the varied projects every year.

Local residents have the chance to participate in the group’s charitable endeavors by contributing funds to meet those needs – either by attending the group’s annual Charity Ball set for Saturday, Feb. 23, or by contributing directly through the group’s Friends of JA program.

The Friends of Junior Auxiliary Program was established in 1989 as a way for businesses and individuals to contribute to the local chapter’s many charitable endeavors. The benefits of Friends Membership depend on the level of contribution and may include free admission to the Charity Ball, tickets to the Friends raffle, reserved seating, valet parking and printed recognition.

As a direct result of the organization’s fundraising efforts, the members have committed to a number of projects for the upcoming year. Approximately $80,000 plus the time that the members volunteer for the projects, generally amounts to more than 5,000 hours of community service each year.

The Child Welfare committee generally earns a quarter of the budget and includes the following areas of service: general welfare, school emergency, Clothes Closet, Adopt-a-Family and other school-related behavior and reward programs.

Community Education utilized 29% of last year’s budget. It includes involvement such hosting the Cyclone Achiever Awards, TAG Grants (funding innovative proposals submitted by teachers that directly benefit the student); Project School Supplies, Aim for Success (a sexual abstinence program); and working with 4th graders on social skills, manners and etiquette.

Health activities, such as Scrubby Bear, Healthy Snacks, Kids in Motion and providing hygiene boxes and other health-related products absorb about two percent of the projected budget each year. More than 30 percent of funding is provided to Help Network, the Boys and Girls Club, and the CBI Prom to help with community needs involving children and families.

Other funds are designated for Scholarships, providing funds to local students or activities in the following areas using pre-determined criteria. A smaller portion of the budget is designated for use in civic and cultural projects. Those may include participating in the Christmas Parade, assisting with the summer reading program for children at the Pope County Library, reading to pre-school children, providing booths for safe alternatives to trick-or-treating at Halloween, toys for kids at Christmas and supplying Backpacks for Commodities, furnishing food in backpacks for students to take home.

The theme of this year’s Charity Ball is “JA Feng Shui: Bringing good fortune to those less fortunate.” The black-tie optional event will begin at 6 p.m. with a silent auction featuring hundreds of items donated by area businesses. Dinner will be served from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in an elegant, earthy “zen” environment.

Popular attractions during the evening include the live auction, offering the chance to bid on extraordinary items, and the “sign- up parties.” (See page 31 for a complete list of available items.)

The night will conclude with music and dancing as the The Rockets play until 12:30 p.m. This is the band’s third consecutive appearance. They are well- known for playing the top hits of the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and today’s best music. The Rockets have been voted “Best Local Band” in the Arkansas Times Reader’s Poll for the past 11 years. Those attending will also receive a complimentary photo from RC White Photography.

“Your donation, honorarium, or memorial will provide the necessary funding for our ongoing community projects,” say members. “We sincerely hope that you will make plans to attend this year’s Charity Ball or consider making a gift to Friends this year to help us continue to serve Russellville,” said organizers.

“Please help us continue to serve Russellville by attending our annual Charity Ball,” requests Angela Bonds and Suzanne Gately, finance co-chairs for the event. Tickets are $130 per couple or $65 per individual and should be purchased early, as the event is usually a sold-out affair. For information, call (479) 964-3264 or 976-3668.

Junior Auxiliary of Russellville, Arkansas, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization.

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