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story.lead_photo.caption Tisha Mills, standing, co-chairwoman of the Junior Auxiliary of Saline County’s upcoming Putt the Kids First Golf Tournament, played in last year’s tournament and plans to do so again this year. Accompanying her on a visit to the Hurricane Golf and Country Club are fellow JA members Rachel Washington, seated, front, and Angela Hebert, back. - Photo by Staci Vandagriff

— Members of the Junior Auxiliary of Saline County work throughout the year to help make a difference in the lives of children. The group’s motto is “Care Today, Character Tomorrow.”

To help support its many service projects, the Junior Auxiliary of Saline County will present its ninth annual Putt the Kids First Golf Tournament on Friday at Hurricane Golf and Country Club, 4300 Hurricane Drive in Bryant. All proceeds will benefit the children of Saline County.

The tournament is open to the public. The cost to enter is $400 per team in a four-person scramble format, or $125 per golfer. Registration includes lunch, beverages and goody bags.

To preregister, call Tisha Mills, co-chairwoman with Beth Leach, at (479) 409-9097.

Registration the day of the tournament will begin at 8 a.m.

“We will have two start times,” Mills said. “The first shotgun start will be at 9 a.m. and the second at 1 p.m. We will have breakfast before the first start time. Lunch will be served around noon, compliments of representatives of First Security Bank, who will grill hamburgers and hot dogs.

“Last year, we had 13 teams enter the tournament, which is about average,” Mills said. “We are hoping for 20 teams this year and already have 18 registered. We will happily take 30 teams.

“The Junior Auxiliary of Saline County receives no state or federal funding for our projects. This event is one of our main fundraisers, along with our charity ball, which will take place from 7-11 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Benton Event Center.”

Sponsorships and game packages for the tournament are available. The tournament will feature putting and hole contests, and prizes will be given. There will also be auction items on display.

Roxanne Molock, assistant treasurer, said the Junior Auxiliary of Saline County added two fundraisers this year “that will allow us to both improve and increase our support for kids in Saline County.”

“Last year, we were approached by the South Central Arkansas Realtors Association to be celebrity waiters at their Christmas party,” Molock said. “We will be doing that event again this year. This is scheduled for Nov. 30.”

The second additional fundraiser was a fish fry, held April 6 in conjunction with Riverside Grocery.

Jaclyn Billins, chairwoman of the Putt for the Kids First Golf Tournament, said the Junior Auxiliary of Saline County is “a group of women who volunteer through service projects to enhance and enrich the lives of children in Saline County.

“We do everything from feed children who are at risk for hunger over extended school breaks to a preteen girl’s empowerment program and a little bit of everything in between,” she said. “Our service projects put us in every school in Saline County from kindergarten through the 12th grade.”

The organization’s next service project is called Blessings. Members will provide bags of easy-to-prepare food for children to have during Thanksgiving break. The JA will do this again for Christmas and spring break.

“We provided 504 bags last year,” said Rachel Washington, chairwoman of that project in 2017. “The committee will get with the schools soon and see how many children will need that service this year.”

Washington said JA members will also participate in the Paron Fall Fest, scheduled for Oct. 27 in the Paron community in Saline County.

“That event is part of our Pride Patrol, where we set up a JA booth at events in Saline County that are free to the public,” Washington said. “We have games and prizes for the kids and provide information about our services and other services in the community to help those in need.”

Another annual JA service project is Empower, a one-day event for girls in fifth through ninth grades that focuses on empowering girls through guest speakers and fun activities. This year’s event is set for 6-10 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Benton Boys & Girls Club. Online registration will be available soon on Facebook and the JA’s website.

The Junior Auxiliary of Saline County will also sponsor its annual Breakfast With Santa from 8-10 a.m. Dec. 1 at the Bryant Fire Station. This event is free, but participants are asked to bring canned food items as a donation.

Ongoing JA projects include JA on Call, which helps supply immediate needs of students in Saline County schools; Sports Swap Shop, which includes collecting gently used sports equipment and distributing it at soccer, football and baseball evaluations; and JA Superstars, which includes sponsoring a soccer team and interacting with the children by helping coach them, providing snacks for games and cheering on the players during games.

The Junior Auxiliary of Saline County also provides a one-year, $3,000 college scholarship ($1,500 per semester) to a high school senior graduating from a Saline County school who plans to major in a field of study involving children.

More information on the Junior Auxiliary of Saline County and its service projects may be found on Facebook or at jasalinecounty.org.

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