By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Tupelo’s Junior Auxiliary told school representatives on Tuesday it is again ready to help serve needy school children.
The organization held its annual School-Aid luncheon at First United Methodist Church for administrators, school board members, counselors and school nurses in the Tupelo, Lee County and Nettleton school districts. The organization uses the event to thank the schools for their partnerships and remind them of the services it will provide.
“We wanted to give our school-aid representatives the opportunity to meet the counselors and show appreciation for what they do for us because we couldn’t do what we do without them,” said JA President Julie Gibens.
This year, the organization has budgeted $18,000 for eye appointments, eye glasses, hygiene items and school supplies for needy students, said Tami Young, JA’s School-Aid chairwoman.
It also has set aside $24,000 for its clothes closet, said Wendy Collier, JA’s Welfare chairwoman. Students referred by their school counselors can visit the closet twice each year to receive three tops, three bottoms, four pairs of new socks, four pairs of new underwear, a pair of shoes, a coat or jacket and hygiene items.
“They are a great asset to us,” said Ralph Green, principal of the Lee County School District’s Belden Center. “We have children with needs, and each time we ask Junior Auxiliary for their support, they’ve been gracious enough to give us what we need and a lot of times, they give us something extra.”
All of JA’s funding for its work in local schools comes from the organization’s Charity Ball event. This year, the 50th annual Charity Ball will be held Feb. 1 at the BancorpSouth Arena.
The organization also will stage a play about bullying for fourth- to sixth-grade students later this fall. It awards several scholarships, teaches CPR/AED to Tupelo High School freshmen and provides camps to encourage self-esteem.
“They have a servant’s heart,” said Aimee Hawkins, home-school coordinator at Thomas Street Elementary. “Every time I’ve called them, they quickly had what I requested because it is for children.”