Kiwanis JA

From left, Kiwanis Club of Laurel President Lowell Howell, JA of Laurel First Vice President Andrea Endom and Kiwanis program chairwoman Mica Stevens.

 (Photo by Kiwanis Club of Laurel)

Kiwanis Club of Laurel members were treated to an informational presentation on Junior Auxiliary of Laurel by First Vice President Andrea Endom at the club's regular meeting on Wednesday. 

JA Laurel operates 12 service projects annually that focus on the needs of children, including:

• Amblyopia screening for children. This condition occurs when the nerve pathway from one eye to the brain does not develop during childhood. There is often a family history of this condition. The term "lazy eye" refers to amblyopia, which often occurs along with strabismus (crossed eyes). 

• Increasing child-abuse awareness through puppet shows in area schools. The goal of this service project is to help identify children who are being neglected, physically abused or sexually abused and assist them to be connected to individuals who can help them. 

• Sponsoring the CROWN (Care and Responsibility for Others Who Need) Club, an affiliate of JA-Laurel that includes 10th- and 11th-grade girls from Laurel and Jones County schools. Crown Club members must maintain a minimum 2.75 GPA and obtain a minimum of 10 service hours. Crown Club girls assist JA members with various projects throughout the year.

• Sponsoring “Done In A Day,” which provides other charitable and civic organizations in Laurel and Jones County with manpower from JA members and Crown Club members to help them accomplish their own special projects. 

• Sponsoring and conducting several other service projects, including Family Matters, Girl Talk, initial and continuing support for Parkside Playground at Mason Park (built in 2002 with more than 1,500 volunteers involved), Salvation Army Angel Tree screening and assistance with packaging and the annual Christmas Party. Also, scholarships for deserving high school students with more than $6,500 in scholarships awarded annually, Lady Tornado Chit Chat (girls) and Huddle Up (guys), Very Special Arts for special-needs children and the Secret Meals project for students in elementary schools, which provides pre-packaged meals each week on Friday for nearly 90 children so they will have their nutritional needs met over the weekend helping to alleviate hunger in our community.

The women who are members of Junior Auxiliary of Laurel are humanitarians whose work makes a huge difference in the lives of children in Laurel and Jones County. Community sponsors and partners help make the impact of JA Laurel so much greater by their support of these projects and through fundraising activities, Endom said. 

Junior Auxiliary is a national non-profit organization that encourages members to render charitable services which are beneficial to the general public, with particular emphasis on children.

The Junior Auxiliary of Laurel began in 1932 with 23 charter members. Junior Auxiliary of Laurel continues to grow and thrive, serving the children of Jones County and the City of Laurel. JA Laurel is the second oldest chapter of the National Association of Junior Auxiliary (NAJA), which boasts 98 chapters and more than 16,000 active members. 

Current JA Laurel members volunteer their time and talents to community projects by addressing educational, health, cultural and social needs. JA Laurel has 50 members who serve a total of six years of service each — one year as provisional members plus an additional five years as regular members. The organization hosts several fundraisers throughout the year to support projects that are beneficial to the children in our community. 

Kiwanis Club of Laurel members were impressed with the work of this humanitarian organization and thank the women of JA Laurel for their dedication and hard work.

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