Junior Auxiliary seeking donations

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 6, 2016

This Friday and Saturday, the Junior Auxiliary of Picayune and First Baptist Church of Picayune will be hosting Empowered to Connect, a two-day conference designed to provide support to people living with and working with children who are in foster care.
The Junior Auxiliary of Picayune is one of 100 national chapters of the volunteer civic organization and the group’s main mission is child welfare, member Jennifer Cutrer said.
On a local level, the group provides school uniforms and supplies for children in the Picayune and Pearl River Central School Districts. Each Christmas, volunteers host a Christmas party for foster children and their families. Last year, they handed out presents to almost 100 children, including those not in foster care.
“We have a meal, make crafts and the children get to meet Santa,” Cutrer said. “They also get to meet other children and families in the same situation.”
Junior Auxiliary of Picayune also provides support services to social workers and foster families by purchasing basic necessities to ease the transition into foster care.
They are a non-profit group and host fundraisers and accept donations, Cutrer said.
“The donations are made local and stay local,” she added.
This week’s event will be simulcast, as the actual event will be taking place in Nashville, Tennessee. Participants must be checked in before 8:45 a.m. and the event lasts from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. An offsite lunch and refreshments are scheduled, prepared by members of local churches and youth groups, which will be provided in the morning and afternoon.
The event is open to all adoptive or foster parents, ministry leaders and professionals such as social workers and teacher who work with children from difficult situations, Cutrer said.
Dr. Karen Purvis, director of Texas Christian University’s Institute of Child Development, will lead the conference.
Cutrer said Purvis will cover a number of topics including parental guidance, expectations, learning the foster child’s history, helping with behavior changes and helping children succeed, Cutrer said.
“It’s about helping adoptive and foster families find support,” she said. “Kids in foster care come from situations where their parents can’t take care of them. They haven’t had the best start at forming a foundation and have a hard time attaching to an adult.”
The event is free for parents. The cost is $25 for professionals seeking continuing education units, Cutrer said. People who wish to register may do so at www.tinyurl.com/etc2016. Professionals must also register at www.etccontinuingeducation.eventbrite.com.
The deadline to register is Thursday at 5 p.m., Cutrer said.
The group is also seeking new members, Cutrer said. Learn more about membership through Facebook at Junior Auxiliary of Picayune or through email at jaofpicayune@gmail.com.
They are also planning to restart the Crown Club, which is a junior junior auxiliary for young women in grades 10th through 12th, Cutrer said.

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