The year 2020 brought about many changes. Groceries were curbside-delivered, kitchens transformed into classrooms, and social gatherings became a distant past. Like most other aspects of our lives, Junior Auxiliary of Taney County (JATC) had to change the way we served the community in a time when, more than ever, public programs were needed. Very early on in the pandemic schools were closed and nursing homes/assisted living facilities were locked down. The goal was to protect the most vulnerable of the populations – but at what cost? Children who typically engaged in out-of-school activities were no longer provided opportunities to learn social skills and emotional development. As for the elderly, this shutdown often led to feelings of loneliness and depression.
It was there that JATC saw a need and the Kindness Effect Card Project was born. The goal of this project was to spread kindness and joy the COVID-friendly way. After contacting local nursing homes/assisted living facilities, we found that, although visitors were not allowed, deliveries and mail were. It was our hope that greeting cards would serve as a way to bring joy to these individuals.
In addition to positively affecting the seniors’ lives, the objective of this project is to help teach the message of kindness to children. Research has shown that kindness as a community goal is needed, that it can be strengthened though use, and it is beneficial to the population. The more one is kind and demonstrates acts of kindness, the happier one is, the more anxiety and depression is reduced, and the better the world. Engaging in activities like card-writing is a way for children to focus on others, teach empathy, and to help better cope with the personal impacts of COVID19 – not to mention practicing handwriting, spelling, and the art of written communication.
For this project, JATC members collected blank greeting cards and facilitated writing sessions with small groups of children. Local churches and elementary schools participated with children as young as three years old decorating greeting cards, College of the Ozarks students drafted letters in their free time, high school seniors started a “Card Club,” and families exercised their creativity together. These cards included hand drawn pictures, messages of love and hope, personal stories, puzzles, and even a joke or two. The cards were then quarantined, sanitized, and eventually made their way into the hands of the residents. In 2020, we were able to complete two deliveries. Residents were overjoyed when they opened their letters and ask when they can expect another delivery. For some folks, this is the only mail they ever receive.
JATC is continuing the Kindness Effect Card Project and hopes to make four card deliveries in 2021. There are a number of different ways that community members can get involved. If you would like to help with this project, we are currently accepting donations of greeting cards (with envelopes). These cards can be blank or contain a short, sweet, pre-printed message. We are also accepting Christmas/Season’s Greeting cards. Cash donations to help purchase cards are also welcomed. For more information on this project and how you can get involved, please contact Junior Auxiliary of Taney County at firstname.lastname@example.org and use “KECP Donation” on the Subject Line.
Kindness Effect Cards Project is one of many service projects that JATC members provide for the community. Other JATC projects include School Supplies Replenishment which includes Gift Cards for teachers, as well as a plethora of supplies; Tender Critters for children in trauma; Prom Dresses for girls in need; financial and labor support for the Crisis Center including birthday parties and child care for the children so moms can attend counseling sessions; Santa’s Gift House which allows children to do their own shopping for Christmas; Book Swap for children who live in extended-stay motels; and Scholarships for each of the four high schools in Taney County.
JATC is more than a nonprofit organization, it’s a group of women united by a single cause. We are dedicated to helping and making a difference in the lives of 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 “Caring Hearts—Helping Hands—Changing Lives”.
Published by TriLakes News Saturday, February 13. Live Interview on KOLR 10 TV on Wednesday, February 3