Junior League event connects children with vehicles

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 93 views 

It wasn’t a traffic jam causing honking sounds at the Target store in Rogers, Ark., Saturday afternoon rather the 7th annual Touch-a-Truck event.

Eighty-degrees under sunny skies welcomed approximately 1,500 children to the Junior League fundraiser, a stark contrast to the original date of the event a week under when snow fell in Northwest Arkansas.

“We had to exercise the ‘rain date’ before and it does present challenges but the participants are good about moving the date,” Allison Ellison, chair of the event said.

Not a small feat considering more than a dozen big trucks covered the front-grass frontage lot of Target at the Promenade Mall. The trucks ranged from a Walmart semi-truck, backhoes, excavators, steam rollers, diggers, police cars, fire trucks and the SEC Arkansas Razorback semi-truck.

While this is the 7th year for the event, there have been tweaks along the way. This is the first year for the event at the Promenade Mall location. The event had taken place in the John Q. Hammons parking lot. Organizers hope the switch will increase foot traffic but they know it’s an uphill battle with the different date. A week later might not seem like a game-changer but, “I’m expecting lower numbers this year because of graduation ceremonies in the area.”

Mother Nature is hard to predict but Junior League members tried to plan accordingly, some 12 months in advance.

“Members are assigned a certain committee and started working on this event last summer,” Ellison said, “Six months ago we secured participants and the new location.”

The nearly 300 member chapter was asked to volunteer at the event with hopes of raising nearly $10,000 for various women’s and children’s shelter charities.

Despite the intense planning, the children just want to climb aboard the bigger than life trucks and blast its horn.

“When times get stressful, we have to remind ourselves of the smiles of the kids’ faces. It is a popular event for toddlers up to high schoolers,” she said.

Ellison had plenty of feedback on her first-time chairing the event not only from her fellow Junior League members, but from her two children.

“My 3-year-old-son gave me a full list of construction vehicles he expects at the event, I had a priority list from him,” she laughed, “My 1-year-old-girl was infatuated with the bouncy-house.”

It seems Ellison’s mini-focus group was spot on with the children who came.

“My 3-year-old-boy loves, loves, loves construction trucks,” said Tory Moreland, “We are excited. I’ve never attended the event before. I was excited to support the community and show my Wyatt some big trucks.”

Reaction like that makes it worth while for Ellison, a full-time working mom who has also volunteered her time with the Junior League for three years.

“It’s challenging with two small children and a full-time job but knowing I’m having a direct impact and working a great organization makes it worth it,” Ellison said, “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it. It’s rewarding looking at the big picture.”