If you live in a hotel instead of a house, finding a book to read after school or during the summer can be virtually impossible. This difficulty confronts several hundred children enrolled in Branson schools who live in one of the many extended stay hotels scattered around town.
Two Branson elementary school teachers, Jacki Lee and Sara Pardeck, received grant funding to operate a summer school class and weekly “book swap” at one of the hotels. After sharing this concept with a Junior Auxiliary member, they followed up on a suggestion that Junior Auxiliary members might assist them. The Book Swap Stop quickly became a JA-supported project.
Over the summer, Junior Auxiliary members gathered donated books and created collections suitable for all ages. Every other week, JA members would change out the collection, providing children with access to a broader range of materials. Members also helped with weekly craft sessions by providing snacks and extra hands. More than 14 JA volunteers have been involved in this project.
Based on positive experiences over the summer and persuaded of the continuing need, JA will continue with the Book Swap throughout the school year. In addition, throughout this school year JA members will provide homework assistance to children at the hotel every Wednesday from 3-5 pm.
The Book Swap Stop project joins ten other Junior Auxiliary projects providing services and support to children and families in Taney County. These include Santa’s Gift House, Journey, Prom Dress, Scholarships, ScholarCare, College Readiness and support for the Women’s Crisis Center. More information on JA and these projects can be found at the Junior Auxiliary website, www.JATCMO.org.
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”. The Taney County chapter, JATC, was established by a group of caring, enthusiastic women in 1997 and continues to grow and thrive throughout Taney County. Approximately 50 members contribute more than 4,000 volunteer hours and raise thousands of dollars annually as they strive to improve the mental, physical, social and emotional well-being of children in Taney County.