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Junior Auxiliary’s
Deep Sea Soirée

By Audrey Hanes, Photography by Kayla Broadway

For 49 years, the women of Junior Auxiliary of Jonesboro have been holding a single annual fundraiser to fund 12 service projects that touch the lives of more than 4,950 children in Craighead County each year. This year, the nonprofit organization’s much-anticipated Charity Ball will move to an exciting new venue as guests are transported to an underwater world for a Deep Sea Soirée.

The 97 active members of the organization are excited about the move to the Embassy Suites by Hilton Jonesboro Red Wolf Convention Center (RWCC) and what that will mean for attendees of the longtime event.

“I think for me, the largest part in the decision making for this was simple: change,” said 2020 Charity Ball Chair Amanda Fahlberg, who is in her fourth year of service. “JA Jonesboro is hosting its 49th year of Charity Ball, and I wanted to find a way to implement some new things to the event. We want to keep attendees guessing each year, and what better way than with a change of venue?

“The new location is beautiful as it stands, and although we do not have the challenge of transforming the space as in years past, our decorations committee has come up with some of the most unique and classy ideas to create the true ambiance of an underwater oasis. … I hope people expect to have a phenomenal time while also feeling wowed with unexpected elements like live fish, giant floating jellyfish and a few mermaids prancing around the gaming floor.”

Attendees will also have the opportunity to book rooms at a discounted price at RWCC if they mention that they are a guest of Charity Ball. For each room booked before Feb. 8, RWCC will donate $20 to Junior Auxiliary Jonesboro (JA). For those choosing not to stay, Empire Luxury Transportation of Jonesboro has once again partnered with the organization to offer complimentary rides to and from the event. To book a ride in advance, call (870) 351-3215.

The venue is not the only change for Charity Ball. A new form of entertainment will take place at the annual event, thanks to Purple Heart Poker.

“This year we will have several ways to win through gaming,” said Fahlberg. “Raffle tickets will be sold throughout the night and can be exchanged for gaming chips at one of the many gaming tables. Games include: Blackjack, poker, roulette and craps. At the end of the night, raffle tickets can be entered into any of the five amazing raffle drawings of your choice. If you aren’t interested in gaming, we will have dancing and music provided by the marvelous Almost Famous Band in the Arvest Ballroom.  

“Another addition to this year is Bourbon and Bubbles. Participants can buy a $10 ticket for the chance to win an amazing piece of jewelry from Sissy’s Log Cabin, which will have a value of more than $2,000, while also receiving a complimentary glass of champagne or bourbon.”

Fahlberg adds that there are multiple ways to win throughout the night with Wildcard, where guests will pay $100 for the chance to win a live auction package of the winner’s choosing; gaming raffles with a chance to win five prizes with the option to purchase one ticket for $10 or five for $40; and 16 live auction packages. 

2019-2020 JA President Deania Vanhoozer encourages the community to support the annual event to fund projects like Consolidated Youth Services (CYS), Crown Club, Girl’s Enrichment Junior High, Girl’s Enrichment Senior High, Growing Healthy, Kick-Start Kindergarten, Literacy & More, Scholarship, Share & Wear, The Learning Center (TLC), Times Tales and Community Outreach Programs (COPS).

“Charity Ball is the one and only fundraiser for Junior Auxiliary of Jonesboro and the 12 service projects we operate in the community,” said Vanhoozer. “All the funds raised go directly to our local programs; this would not be possible without the support from our community. Our chapter is fortunate and thankful that our organization has received such strong support since we were established in 1950.”

Vanhoozer, a vice president and private banking advisor with Arvest Bank, is in her fifth year of service as a member of JA. She has served on Growing Healthy and Kick-Start Kindergarten and is currently serving as the co-chair of Share & Wear, a project in which members work with school counselors and nurses to provide clothing and backpacks to children in need, from underwear and socks to shoes and coats.

“We have had an increase in requests this year,” she said. “As soon as we had the first wave of cold weather, we began getting calls and emails from the schools needing coats and shoes. It’s hard to imagine a child of any age not having a coat or shoes, but these are needs in our community, and Share & Wear is working to meet those needs.”

Fahlberg has volunteered with several projects, as well, and says she loves the endless possibilities and variety of ways to serve since the projects are so varied.

“JA gives me the opportunity to make a difference and to be a part of something that can create a lasting impact for kids in our community,” said Fahlberg, a funeral director at her family’s business, Emerson Funeral Home. “JA works alongside other nonprofits in the community to assist them with their missions, as well. We’ve worked with the Flo and Phil Jones Hospice House, The Hispanic Center, Consolidated Youth Services, The Foundation of Arts, City Youth and DHS, just to name a few. It’s also a beautiful thing to surround yourself with inspiring women who build each other up and help the youth in our community all at the same time.

“… My most special memory from my time served was the project where JA partnered with NEA Baptist Center for Good Grief to offer a grief camp for families who were grieving the loss of a loved one. We were able to play some interactive games, assist in an art project and relax through yoga. At the end of the day, families sent off lanterns in honor of their loss. It was such a special thing to witness and to be a part of. Everyone handles grief differently, and I felt like that particular camp helped some families work through theirs.” 

The 49th annual Junior Auxiliary of Jonesboro Charity Ball will take place on Feb. 29 at Embassy Suites by Hilton Jonesboro Red Wolf Convention Center. Cocktails and gaming will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by the program and dinner from 7-8:30. Gaming and dancing will last until 11:30. To purchase tickets for Charity Ball 2020 or for more information about Junior Auxiliary of Jonesboro, visit jajonesboro.org.