The Junior Ambassadors program, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County, includes students from every high school in the county. Chamber President Linda Lewis said the program is designed to teach students philanthropy.
“Being in the program can be very humbling for the students,” Lewis said. “It is usually an eye-opening experience. Most of them do not realize what kind of needs people in our county have.”
For its first project of 2012, the group gathered items from a “wish list” for Daybreak, a Jasper organization that serves victims of domestic violence. Lewis said the students brought in a large amount of paper products, cleaning products and other items to be used by Daybreak’s shelter.
In all, Lewis said the Junior Ambassadors will donate to about a dozen local programs for the less fortunate. The group is currently participating in a canned goods drive for a local food bank. Volunteers from the group will also begin taking phone calls next week for the Daily Mountain Eagle’s annual Shoe Fund program.
“We try to get them involved with many projects,” Lewis said.
One of the group’s most rewarding projects each year is adopting a family during the Christmas season.
Lewis said Junior Ambassadors will work in conjunction with the Department of Human Resources to select a family and provide Christmas gifts for them.
“That is special to us every year,” Lewis said. “Most of our students don’t know what it is like for their family to struggle to get Christmas presents, and they see that is a very real situation by participating in adopt-a-family.”
Along with providing students a way to help out in their community, Lewis said participating in the program is an asset when filling out college applications.
“Not only can they say they were a part of Junior Ambassadors, they can also list they have volunteered for a dozen different great organizations,” Lewis said. “That’s something that colleges pay attention to.”
For more information on the Junior Ambassador program, contact the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County at 205-384-4571.