The holiday season started early at the tenth annual Santa’s Gift House hosted by the Junior Auxiliary of Taney County (JATC). On December 14, Santa’s Gift House many Taney County children in Grades K-4 were provided with an opportunity to experience the joy of giving gifts during the holidays. They “shopped” with the help of 30 JATC elves and selected up to four items for 50 cents per item that they will give as holiday gifts to their loved ones. These high-quality gifts included wine glass globes, cocoa mugs, peanut mugs, jewelry, knitted scarves and hats, decorative plaques, note cards, marshmallow shooters, towels for that dad who loves to BBQ, and lots more. This year on December 18, another 80 students, Pre-K through 4th grade, from Taneyville Elementary Schools experienced Santa’s Gift House.
It was a joy to see the smiles on the faces of the children as they personally selected gifts for their loved ones and learned that giving can be better than receiving. Most of the items were handcrafted by members of JATC and their friends and family so that these children have meaningful gifts to give to others.
The children were overjoyed by the holiday setting, gifts, craft stations where they created something for themselves, and the treat table where they and their parents enjoyed baked goodies and hot chocolate. They especially enjoyed the chance to visit with Santa and receive a book provided by the JA elves. Many of the children expressed their appreciation over and over to the JATC members who were helping them with gift selection, wrapping, and crafts. The parents were just as excited as the children as they were offered donated items they might need for Christmas.
One volunteer for this special event was the granddaughter of a JA member. As she helped one young man shop, he hugged her leg at every station. While gifts were being wrapped, he told her he loved her and kissed her hand twice. Truly an experience for her to remember!
Special thanks to the Branson United Methodist Church who welcomed us to hold the event at their Family Life Center, Liberty Exposition Services through the Branson Convention Center who helped us with draping and rods, and Tanger Outlet Mall who provided shopping bags to carry gifts.
Santa’s Gift House is one of many service projects that JATC members provide to the community. Other JATC projects include Tender Critters for children in trauma; Prom Dresses for girls in need; financial and labor support for the Women’s Crisis Center including birthday parties and child care for the children so moms can attend counseling sessions; School Supplies “refreshment” in January for elementary schools; Book Swaps for children who live in extended-stay motels; and Scholarships for each of the four high schools in Taney County. If you would like to learn more about our organization, please visit us at jatcmo.org.
We have one major fundraiser each year – a fun Trivia Challenge with dinner, a raffle and a Silent Auction held in the spring. This year the 20th Annual Trivia Challenge and Silent Auction will be held at the Chateau on the Lake on April 4, 2020. The theme is “JATC Goes Platinum, celebrating 20 years of Trivia”. We hope you will save the date and come help us support the children of Taney County.
We also raise money from other events such as Belk’s Charity Days, AmazonSmile, Mr. G’s Annual JATC Days, grants and individual donations. Generous local businesses, churches, and individuals provide support for JATC’s various events including Branson’s Cowboy Church, Doug Baker State Farm Insurance, Ozark Mountain Ear Nose & Throat, Binswanger Glass, State Park Marina, Central Bank of Branson, Edward Jones-Mitch Holmes, First Community Bank of Branson, Branson Bank, Lowe’s, Sir Speedy Printing, Ollis/Akers/& Arney, The Farmhouse Restaurant, Edward Jones-Mac McGregor, and many more.
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 96 chapters located in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. Their slogan is “Care Today-Character Tomorrow”.