HATTIESBURG, MS - The ladies of Junior Auxiliary (JA) of Hattiesburg have been extremely busy spreading hope and joy throughout the Pine Belt during the winter months. Continuing in the tradition of volunteer community service, JA members met the needs of underprivileged individuals through a variety of means. The organization’s 18 ongoing and one-time projects are funded by the organization’s sole annual fundraising event, Charity Ball.
JA of Hattiesburg is incredibly thankful for the community support they received for last year’s gala, “A Toast to Crowning Achievements.” More than 500 people attended the event on Friday, November 14, 2014, which raised nearly $90,000. All of the proceeds from Charity Ball fund JA’s annual service projects that directly serve children and families in the Pine Belt. From education and arts programming to health screenings and confidence building programs, JA of Hattiesburg is making a difference in the many in our community. Highlighted below are Smart Art, Kids Culture, Youth Shelter, Wardrobe Warehouse, Snack Pack and AIM for Success.
SMART ART: The children of Edwards Street Fellowship Center recently enjoyed a day of creativity organized by the Junior Auxiliary. The annual project, known as Smart Art, was designed to encourage children with interactive art experiences beyond their regular school programs. Twenty-five children in grades K-8 were in attendance. This project takes place each year in January at the Edwards Street Fellowship Center. The children enjoyed 45-minute classes during which they learned painting, dance, cooking and photography.
"My heart was touched through Smart Art as a provisional. I knew right away that I wanted to be a part of it," said Smart Art Co-Chairman, Blair Riley. "The children really enjoy each activity. The smiles on their faces and the hugs they give, say it all. We had amazing teachers and a fabulous team of JA ladies who were willing to serve and love on these kids!"
The goal of Smart Art is to build confidence and stimulate the children's creative juices while having fun. Smart Art gives kids a chance to try new things and dream new dreams. "Edwards Street Fellowship Center was delighted to once again serve as the host location for JA's Smart Art," said Director of Edwards Street Fellowship Center, Ann McCullen. "We know it is beneficial for children to be exposed to the arts, and the children from our neighborhood rarely get opportunities like those brought by Smart Art. The ladies from JA not only opened the children's eyes to new experiences, but they also treated them with love, respect, and kindness. We are grateful for this partnership!" (PHOTOS)
KIDS CULTURE: Junior Auxiliary’s Kids Culture celebrated its third year at Earl Travillion Attendance Center. This project was created to engage students in a variety of cultural and art experiences. The hope is that the children would learn to see the value of arts around them, to appreciate their own and other cultural influences, and to discover their own interests and talents. The project began with the third grade class, and has followed those students through until their fifth grade year. There are currently forty-two students who are part of this ongoing project. During this year’s programs, the children have created art collages inspired by Pablo Picasso, learned about and practiced photography, and learned from two local judges about the judicial system. Kids Culture is currently working on programs to equip children to be wise consumers of well-built items, while giving each an opportunity to build something special. This project is a delight to JA members, and seems to be very much enjoyed by the children, their teachers, and the school administrators, who always welcome Kids Culture with open arms.
YOUTH SHELTER: During the month of November, JA members provided Youth Shelter with a Thanksgiving meal and all the accouterments. The following month, the Youth Shelter committee members organized a festive Christmas party and helped the children decorate Christmas ornaments. The Hattiesburg JA chapter also presented the Youth Shelter staff with gift cards for the purpose of purchasing Christmas gifts for the residents. The children, who are placed in the Youth Shelter due to no fault of their own, received Christmas gifts from their own wish lists. (PHOTO)
WARDROBE WAREHOUSE: Junior Auxiliary’s Wardrobe Warehouse project served 113 people and gave away 350 articles of warm clothing during their annual Coat and Sweater Give Away. Community volunteers joined in the effort, along with Forrest County District 4 supervisor, Rod Woullard, who expressed his appreciation for JA’s commitment to the Palmer’s Crossing area.
SNACK PACK: During the past year, JA’s Snack Pack program has provided packages of healthy snacks to students in need at Earl Travillion Attendance Center during the Thanksgiving and Christmas school holidays. Approximately 50 packs were delivered each holiday and will be distributed again for Spring Break and Easter break. The packs include nutritious, kid-friendly and easy to prepare food like cereal and milk, ravioli, canned beans and meat, and fresh fruits and vegetables. This year, due to a generous donation from Brown Bottling Group, we are also providing a variety of 100% fruit juices.
AIM for SUCCESS: Junior Auxiliary created the AIM for Success program for middle schools and high schools in the Pine Belt area. The program strives to encourage and equip children to aim for success in life by abstaining from sexual activity. It educates students on those issues that would prevent them from achieving their life goals and dreams, such as sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and emotional scars. AIM for Success teaches children that abstinence is the best way to keep on the path to success. The highly energetic and enthusiastic speakers present the program in an engaging manner, using real life scenarios and statistics.
To learn more about Junior Auxiliary of Hattiesburg, please visit www.hattiesburgjuniorauxiliary.org.