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Women's Volunteer League Advances Community and Personal Development

By Kelly Church

Devoted to promoting a culture of voluntarism and the development of women, the Junior League of St. Petersburg (JLSP) has been advancing the Florida city since 1931. As part of the Association of Junior Leagues International, the St. Petersburg chapter is just one of 293 junior leagues in four different countries. Each year, the organization raises millions of dollars for community programs through fundraising events including the JLSP Annual Giving Campaign, Whale of a Sale and Fall Into Fashion.

"While we provide phenomenal volunteer opportunities for women as well as projects and programs to benefit the community, we give women a chance to develop personal and professional skills by leading each of the aforementioned opportunities," says Gentry Adams, JLSP President.

Through the organizations community events, fundraisers and programs, the JLSP has a direct impact on the community. The recent signature project of the organization was a partnership with Clothes To Kids, an organization dedicated to providing quality clothing to low-income school-aged children in the area. JLSP made a $50,000 contribution along with four years of volunteer support. The Give A Book Committee is another endeavor of the JLSP, donating books to children in need and underprivileged schools. In addition, volunteers come together to read to hundreds kids every month and gifting them a new book to take home.

"One of our most beloved events (that will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in August) is Back to School Care Fair, where we provide over 1,500 backpacks for children in the community," Adams says. "We also provide dental screenings, physicals, diabetes screenings, eye exams and medical resources to attendees- all free of charge!"

The organization recently launched a new program called Kids in the Kitchen. Volunteers educate local schoolchildren about healthy eating choices, their impact and recipes during their regular afterschool care. Kids get the opportunity to cook during these hours and take ingredients home with them to make a simple, homemade chili.

JLSP also partners with the Ronald McDonald House, Edible Peace Patch, the Kind Mouse Project and the St Petersburg Free Clinic, diving even deeper into the community. The organization was founded in 1901 on the belief that women can be proactive and valuable members of society. That belief system is carried through with the St. Petersburg chapter that continues to grow each year, expanding their volunteer network and programs.

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