This Is What the Junior League Actually Does
From food trucks to mega coat drives and adoption days, these Southern Junior Leagues are super heroes to the communities they serve.
It's no secret, the Junior League does a lot of good throughout our region. Here, we're sharing a few of our favorite fundraisers and projects from Southern chapters.
Junior League of Augusta
The Little Black Dress Initiative
This fundraiser was developed by the Junior League of London, but it will soon be a driving force to end poverty across the pond thanks to the Junior League of Augusta. The intention of the fundraiser is to raise awareness for women in crisis by making poverty unfashionable. The JLA partnered up with Julie's House, a resource for women and their children who are currently in need whether they're homeless, victims of domestic violence or going through any number of hardships and in need of resources. To raise funds and awareness, participants wear the same black dress for a week. When asked about their dress, participants share information on the Little Black Dress Initiative in an effort to garner support and contributions from the community. At the end of the campaign, the Augusta chapter of the Junior League will fill a closet with dresses and outfits for the residents at Julie's House. Other ways to participate include donating to one of the participants, sharing a statistic on social media with #theLBDi, and donating business and business casual clothes to a local shelter.
Junior League of Austin
Coats for Kids
On a single day each year, the Junior League of Austin distributes more than 35,000 coats to children in need in Central Texas making Coats for Kids one of the largest coat drives in the nation. The program is now in it's 30th year. Just this year, 24 volunteers and more than $160,000 from the Junior League of Austin was allocated to this project, but they don't do it alone. The JLA works with the Texas Health & Human Services Commission, Central Texas school districts, and social service agencies to find children who are eligible for the program. Leftover coats and winter clothing from the drive don't go unused. They're distributed to area agencies and schools on what is referred to as Surplus Day.
Junior League of Birmingham
The Junior League of Birmingham's Kids in the Kitchen initiative hits the road throughout the year to teach area children the importance of eating healthy. The primary objective of the mobile kitchen, referred to as the Yummy Truck, is to reverse the growing trend of childhood obesity. Junior League members drive the Yummy Truck to various community events, schools, and fundraisers where they give demonstrations and hand out healthy snacks. The Yummy Truck makes it possible to bring the Kids in the Kitchen curriculum to areas that typically wouldn't have access to nutritional education.
Junior League of Miami
Inn Transition is a gated complex that provides transitional housing and resources to women and children who are victims of domestic violence. It was developed as a way to help the community in the after math of Hurricane Andrew and has been a signature project for the Junior League of Miami ever since. Inn Transition South was opened in 2002 and includes 56 two-, three-, and four-bedroom apartments, a community center with a children's library, and playground. JLM volunteers give life skills training, mentor families, and participate in outings with the families in residence. The facilities provide families with housing, counseling, and child-care for up to 24 months. Each adult resident is paired with a County counselor and makes a plan to achieve economic independence and self-sufficiency. Dozens of families have benefitted from Inn Transition to date.
Junior League of New Orleans
Lemonade Day University
If you think the concept is rudimentary, think again—Lemonade Day is more than just lemonade stands. The Junior League of New Orleans partners with Lemonade Day to teach children how to start, own, and operate their own business, in this case, a lemonade stand. The half-day program is held in April each year and is free to children ages 8 to 12. The curriculum includes learning how to make healthy lemonade, developing a business plan and budget, implementing success strategies, and marketing. At the end of the program, the Junior League of New Orleans hopes to have inspired children to become business leaders, social advocates, and volunteers all in a fun and creative environment.
Junior League of Tampa
Kids Connect + H.E.A.R.T. (Helping Every Adoptable child Rise Together)
The Junior League of Tampa has been partnering with Camelot Community Care on their Kids Connect program since 1996, making it one of the JLT's longest-standing projects. The Kids Connect initiative sponsors events where foster children can interact with prospective families in a casual, fun, and no-stress environment. Since the program began, the JLT has successfully helped more than 160 children find a forever family.
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We couldn't narrow down the Junior League of Tampa's projects to just one, so we're also giving a shout out to H.E.A.R.T. The JLT works with the Children's Board Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay to throw birthday parties and other life event celebrations for youth in foster care. Foster children create a wish list for their customized birthday party—the JLT asserts no wish is ever too big. Last year's parties included a behind-the-scenes tour of the vet center at Busch Gardens and a fishing tutorial at Bass Pro Shops. The group events also give siblings living apart the ability to spend time with each other and reconnect.