JES Girls on the Run help at The Open Door

Dec 23, 2016
Photo by: Donated MAKING A DIFFERENCE — Pictured are members in the JES Girls on the Run Group doing community service at The Open Door in Waynesville. GOTR believes, 'every girl can embrace who she is, can define who she wants to be, can rise to any challenge, can change the world.'

Junaluska Elementary School’s Girls on the Run group served up an act of kindness at Nov. 20 when the group prepared, served, entertained and cleaned up at The Open Door in Waynesville.

Girls on the Run (GOTR) is a national nonprofit developed to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident. It’s a requirement that each group performs a community service project during the semester. This project must be completely student led. The girls decide on the project and serve.

“Most Girls on the Run groups decide to collect items for a charity, but our girls wanted to do something bigger,” said JES GOTR coach Joy Sollie. “They decided that they wanted to serve at The Open Door. So, as a group, we made that happen. The girls decided to do a taco bar, so that everyone would have something to prepare and serve.”

The experience was a good and happy one for the girls and their coaches.

“My favorite part was seeing people smile,” said GOTR student Anna Kate Sutton.

“Everybody was really nice and it was fun to help others,” added student Ella Laughton.

“My favorite part was preparing the food,” said Eireann Marcus, while Kate Clark remarked, “My favorite part was seeing people happy.”

The students, some of whom had not done community service before, understood the value of community service and the inner happiness serving others can bring.

“My favorite part was helping people that are less fortunate and to know that I did a good thing,” said student Marin Leslie.

“Many of our girls had never had the opportunity to work in our community before,” said GOTR coach Jennifer Mullins. “More than one shared that this first experience would not be their last.”

The JES GOTR group has 14 fourth and fifth-grade girls and three coaches. They meet after school Tuesdays and Thursdays, and include lessons to help members recognize their inner and outer strength.

Physical activity is woven into the program to inspire an appreciation of fitness and to build habits that lead to a lifetime of health. Girls on the Run lessons encourage positive emotional, social, mental and physical development.

“We explored and discussed our own beliefs around experiences and challenges girls face at their ages,” Sollie said. “We started with learning how to get a better understanding of who we are and what’s important to us. Then, we looked at the importance of team work and healthy relationships. Finally, we explored how we can positively connect with and shape the world.”

The JES GOTR group has been busy, adding running a 5K Dec. 4 in Asheville.

“I was so proud of our girls at The Open Door,” said Sollie. “They worked hard preparing the food, serving and cleaning up, but I was most proud of how kind they were to everyone. The girls learned that it doesn't matter how small you might be — you can make a big difference.”

For information about Girls on the Run, visit