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Charity Ball 2019: Enchanted Garden
By Audrey Hanes, Photography by Amy Long

Junior Auxiliary of Jonesboro’s mission is to meet the needs of children, youth and families throughout Craighead County and to help ensure that their future will be bright; last year alone, its members spent more than 3,000 hours doing just that. The nonprofit organization’s 48th annual Charity Ball will take place later this month at First National Bank Arena, where members hope to again raise enough money to fund its 12 service projects and truly impact the community.

Organizers will decorate the venue to look like an Enchanted Garden, a theme that 2019 Junior Auxiliary of Jonesboro (JA) Charity Ball chair and Jonesboro native Samantha McFadden says she chose because she wanted to go with something simple and elegant.

“I loved the idea of transforming First National Bank Arena into a garden and could picture the space filled with beautiful string lights and wild greenery,” said McFadden. “I hope that guests will get the feeling of spending an evening under the stars surrounded by beauty, and I’m not just talking about the guests.”

From live and silent auctions to a wine pull, wild card drawing and raffle, there are many ways for guests to win big and give back to JA and area children.

“Charity Ball will feature 18 live auction packages, including beautiful jewelry, incredible trips, home improvement items and more,” said the 2019 chair. “We will have a huge silent auction filled with items donated by locally owned businesses and artisans. We will be raffling off a Polaris ATV this year; tickets are $10 each and are on sale now or can be purchased the night of the event. We will have our wild card drawing where guests will pay $100 to enter a chance to win their choice of any of our live auction items. Our wine pull will be back this year, as well; guests will pay $20 and have the opportunity to win a bottle of wine ranging anywhere from $20 to $80 in value.”

Other highlights of the night will be dancing to music by Memphis Soul Revue and complimentary chauffeured rides to and from the event provided by Empire Luxury Transportation. 

McFadden says she joined JA for the opportunity to meet other like-minded women who were eager to give back to Jonesboro through service.

“I have been a member of Junior Auxiliary for three years,” said McFadden, who works as a wedding and event planner at The Silos Event Barn in Bono. “I have loved having the opportunity to give back to my community in ways I would have never had the chance to before. I have also loved making friends with women who are very inspiring and motivate me to go the extra step to serve.”
During her time so far in the nonprofit organization, McFadden has volunteered with The Learning Center (TLC) birthday club and Community Outreach Programs (COPS).

“I have so many great memories from birthday club,” she said. “With this project we have the privilege of throwing a birthday party every month for the TLC adults. The parties usually consist of silly birthday hats, yummy food, karaoke, dancing and lots of laughs. The birthday club is really such a simple concept but brings this group of adults so much joy and is absolutely something they look forward to every month.”

Danial Reed, the 2018-2019 president of JA of Jonesboro, has also served on two different projects during her five years in the organization. She says that while Kick-Start Kindergarten and Scholarship are completely different in nature as far as how they help area students, they are both near and dear to her heart.

“Kick-Start Kindergarten gave me the opportunity to work with children who were just entering into their education,” said Reed, the communications manager for E.C. Barton and Company. “The children we work with each week are tutored in literacy and math. Beyond the tutoring, we also create friendships with the children. It was a great feeling to see their academic progress, but the smiles, hugs and laughter that took place each week we met were even more meaningful.

“Serving on the Scholarship Committee has been my most memorable experience with Junior Auxiliary. In addition to awarding the scholarships, we mentor the students and get to know them pretty well. Each year, I am in awe of the stories we hear about the challenges our recipients have overcome or the big goals they are working hard to achieve. Each story is different. One story that has been most memorable to me is a non-traditional student who is setting a wonderful example to her three children by going back to school. Each recipient works extremely hard to earn and maintain their scholarship, and I admire their perseverance.”

Scholarship is JA’s longest-running project, founded nationally by the National Association of Junior Auxiliaries in 1962. Since its inception, JA of Jonesboro has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to traditional and non-traditional students. In the past year alone, a total of $85,000 was awarded to 34 spring recipients and 36 fall recipients.

JA of Jonesboro’s remaining service projects include Consolidated Youth Services (CYS), Crown Club, Girls Enrichment Junior High, Girls Enrichment Senior High, Growing Healthy, Literacy & More, Share & Wear and Times Tales, for a total of 12 projects that members dedicate their time to each year.

“Junior Auxiliary of Jonesboro is fortunate to have a long history of support from our community,” said Reed. “This support has resulted in the need for only one annual fundraiser (Charity Ball) so that the majority of our time can be spent in our service projects. Many nonprofits struggle with balancing the time spent fundraising versus volunteering; both are so important to the future of the organization. We are lucky that our one fundraiser raises enough to fund our projects each year and more time can be spent on the service projects rather than organizing fundraisers. We strive to uphold our mission by maintaining our focus of serving the children, youth and families in our community.”

“I believe it’s organizations like JA that are the heart and souls of communities like Jonesboro,” added McFadden. “Through the funds raised at Charity Ball, we are able to fill the needs of our community, whether that’s by providing clothes for a child in need, providing scholarships to local high school graduates, spending extra time with a kindergartener who is having a hard time keeping up in class, educating kids on the importance of health and the harms of smoking and the list goes on and on. Every dollar raised at Charity Ball goes directly to support the needs of our community, primarily the children.”

Junior Auxiliary of Jonesboro Charity Ball 2019 will take place on March 16 at First National Bank Arena on the Arkansas State University Campus. Doors will open for cocktails at 6 p.m., with dinner and the program beginning at 7:30 p.m. and dancing to Memphis Soul Revue until 11:30 p.m. Attire is black tie optional. The silent auction will open for online bidding one week prior to Charity Ball. For more information about Junior Auxiliary of Jonesboro or Charity Ball, please visit jajonesboro.org.