Southern Hospitality theme of JA Charity Ball

By Tammy Keith Originally Published February 10, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated February 8, 2013 at 11:19 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Beth Giroir, left, and Jennifer Saxton are co-chairing the Junior Auxiliary of Russellville 2013 Charity Ball. The event, with food, dinner and dancing, is the organization’s main fundraising effort for various projects for children. The Charity Ball will be March 2 at the Boys and Girls Club, which will be transformed for the theme Southern Hospitality.

Russellville 2013 Charity Ball

Beth Grior and Jennifer Saxton talk about co-chairing the Junior Auxiliary of Russellville 2013 Charity Ball. (By Rusty Hubbard)
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— Jennifer Saxton and Beth Giroir are playing off each other’s strengths to lead the 48th annual Junior Auxiliary of Russellville Charity Ball on March 2.

“Jennifer’s creative, and I’m not creative at all, so our strengths really balance out,” Giroir said.

Saxton said she is detail-oriented and has made lots of lists.

Plus, she interprets Giroir’s Minnesota accent for people, she added with a laugh.

Even though it’s Giroir’s first active year in the organization, Saxton asked her to be co-chair for the ball.

“I knew the dynamic we have working together would have been perfect,” Saxton said.

Giroir (pronounced jer-wah) and Saxton, 34 and 35 respectively, both teach in professional studies at Arkansas Tech University and are planning the extravaganza.

Southern Hospitality is the theme of the black-tie-optional event. It will begin at 6 p.m. at the L.V. Williamson Boys and Girls Club, 600 E. 16th St.

“We just knew we really wanted to let the community know what JA was about,” Saxton said. “It’s about being there for each other and for the community, and being hospitable for the people who really need you. We felt like the theme Southern Hospitality would really drive that home.”

Mr. Lucky will provide the music for dancing.

The food follows the Southern theme: The menu includes ham, shrimp cocktail, prime rib, fried okra and a macaroni and cheese bar, “which is going to be amazing,” Saxton said.

For dessert, guests may create their own cobblers from a choice of 10 to 15 different flavors, she said.

In addition to dinner and dancing, guests can play bingo, and there will be silent and live auctions.

Giroir and Saxton are also co-chairing the live auction.

Packages include a week in Hilton Head, S.C., and children’s furniture and bedding, Giroir said.

“Businesses in the community have been so gracious to donate,” Saxton said, “because I think they see the impact that we make, and that they can help us make, through making those donations.”

The money raised at the ball supports several projects for children in the River Valley

area, from pre-kindergarten through school age.

“This is our primary fundraiser that we do for JA of Russellville,” Giroir said. “We want to raise as much as possible because that’s what we work off for the upcoming year.”

Those projects include Project School Supplies for kindergartners through fifth-graders and Show Your Smile, in which Dora the Explorer goes with a JA member into day cares to teach dental health. The Aim for Success program for older students brings in speakers on “cutting-edge topics,” such as bullying, Giroir said.

“We have fun projects where we go out and educate, but also the times people need a hand up or a coat or a pair of shoes, and we’re there for that, as well, with this organization,” Giroir said.

“It happens more than you’d like it to. Fundraisers like this allow us to help folks,” Giroir said. “That’s why we do this.”

A list of other projects is available at www.jarussellville.org.

“I feel it is definitely a vital organization to the River Valley,” she said. “I knew JA made an impact before, … but being on the inside, I know we make a difference.”

The women said they’d be excited about the event even if they weren’t JA members.

“It’s a night to get dressed up and have a good time in Russellville,” Giroir said.

Saxton said this will be her fourth charity ball.

“We just encourage anyone — if you’ve never been — please come out and give it a try; it really is a lot of fun,” Saxton said.

“The kids here are our future. That’s what keeps me going in it — that I’m helping our future out.”

The deadline is Friday to buy tickets, which are $70 per person or $130 per couple. They are available by calling Saxton at (479) 890-1381 or Giroir at (601) 467-1735.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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