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charity ball 2014: making the impossible possible
Story by Audrey Hanes; photography by Amy Long

The 11 service projects that Junior Auxiliary of Jonesboro supports impact the lives of countless children throughout Craighead County each year. Those projects are only possible because of the nonprofit organization’s annual Charity Ball, a highly anticipated event that will take place at Arkansas State University’s Convocation Center later this month.

At the helm of this year’s event is 2014 Charity Ball Chairman Sarah Dickey, who stepped up to chair the event because of her passion for what the organization does in the community. In fact, her desire to join the organization goes back to the first Charity Ball she attended just five years ago.

“JA is a special organization,” said Dickey, a GIA accredited jewelry professional with Sissy’s Log Cabin who is well known in the community for her seven years as a KAIT meteorologist. “Jonesboro’s chapter is one of the largest and most successful chapters in the national organization. The first Charity Ball I attended five years ago sparked my interest in the group. Once I researched and learned more about what this chapter does, I knew I wanted to be a part of such a great community organization. “It’s one thing to organize an event and volunteer during said event, but it’s something else to directly work with children and see a smile when a multiplication problem clicks or that squiggle
turns into an actual letter. When that light goes on in a child’s mind, it lights up their entire face and entire being. That sense of accomplishment and pride is wonderful to see take shape.”

Dickey has been able to personally serve on three projects since becoming a JA of Jonesboro member, and says that the thing she loves most about the organization is its quiet work within the community.

“From spending a few nights a month with the girls at Consolidated Youth Services, I learned how a simple pot of chili or game of Just Dance can make a troubled child smile and forget what’s happening in life for an hour or two,” she said. “Kick-Start Kindergarten sends volunteers into Jonesboro kindergarten classes to help students who are struggling with letters and numbers. Watching a child grow and know those letters and numbers … is something special. The children are so proud of their work and success.

“My favorite project is Literacy and More with MicroSociety Magnet School. I cannot tell you how much I adore the girls in my book clubs. Once a week, for at least eight weeks a semester, I am lucky enough to sit with these bright young ladies to talk about books and life. We have some challenging moments, yet I learn so much from the girls, probably more than they take away from me. … They all have meant so much to me, and I can only hope that I make their time at school as bright as they make my days.”

JA of Jonesboro’s remaining eight projects include Girl’s Enrichment, Growing Healthy, Scholarship, Lunch Buddies, Times Tales, Share and Wear/Lock Box, The Learning Center and its newest project, Crown Club. All of the service organization’s projects are possible because of the generosity of the Jonesboro community through Charity Ball.

“Junior Auxiliary of Jonesboro is able to fulfill its mission for the children of
Craighead County because of the support we receive from the community,” said current JA of Jonesboro President Lori Poston. “Charity Ball is our only annual fundraising event and funds all of our service projects for the entire year. Having the support of the generous people of the Jonesboro community is crucial for our continued service to the children of this area.”

Dickey says that whether someone is able to buy tickets and attend the event
or make a donation, every contribution is vital to continuing the mission of JA of
Jonesboro to improve the lives of children by developing and implementing programs to meet their emotional, physical and educational needs.

“Some members serve quietly, some serve loudly, but what matters most is that we serve,” said the 2014 Charity Ball chair. “One night a year, JA asks the community to help us continue our mission. It takes every single bit of money raised at Charity Ball to fund all of our projects. … What would happen to the needs and children we serve if we could not support a program or had to
cut back on what we are able to provide?” More than 630 people attended the
annual event last year, which raised almost $148,000 for the children of Craighead County, an increase of more than $12,000 from the previous year. That increase in funding helped enable JA of Jonesboro to make a $25,000 donation to Miracle League of Jonesboro in 2013.

Charity Ball 2014 promises to be as exciting and entertaining as ever, with a
whimsical theme and colorful décor that Dickey says she hopes will make guests
have a child’s heart in mind. “If a child walked into Charity Ball, I would want her to think, ‘Wow, this is so fun!’” said Dickey, whose son, Jeb, with husband, Drew, will turn 1 this month. “From whimsical and fanciful, this year’s Charity Ball’s inspiration grew from something the White Queen said in
‘Through the Looking Glass:’ … ‘Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six
impossible things before breakfast.’ We’ve got color, twinkle lights, mirrors and great food. Dessert will be delectably beautiful. We even have an end-of-the-night surprise that you will just eat up.”

The event’s live and silent auctions are always impressive, as well. In a special addition that was introduced at last year’s ball, JA members will be selling 100 tickets for $100 during the night, and the winning ticket holder will have the opportunity to choose from any of the live auction items and packages.

Throughout the year, JA members have also been selling chances to win a $5,000 custom design from Sissy’s Log Cabin, and that winner will be drawn during the evening’s program. Other highlights will include music from returning band Tragickly White and formal portraits and party pics by Amy Long Photography.

“Every chapter meeting we have begins with a prayer,” said Dickey. “I try to say that same prayer before I start any service project for JA. That prayer speaks volumes to what our mission is and what we aim to do. At one point, we ask God for guidance and to ‘Send us to the children whom none have blessed, to the famished whom none have visited, to the fallen whom none have lifted, to the bereaved whom none have comforted.’ Won't you help us make impossible things possible for the children of Craighead County?”

Editor’s note: The 43rd annual Charity Ball will be held on Saturday, Feb. 15 at Arkansas State University’s Convocation Center. Cocktail hour and the silent auction will begin at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and the live auction at 7 p.m. and dancing until midnight. Attire is black-tie optional. For ticket inquiries, email
rsvp.jajonesboro@gmail.com.