Girls Inc. of St. Louis empowers members at annual holiday event

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ST. LOUIS – Girls Inc. of St. Louis has been around for more than four decades. Their goal is to empower girls and provide them with valuable experiences.

The organization’s 11th annual “Holiday Happenings” event took place Saturday at their facility on Nelson Drive.

“I’ve been at Girls Inc. since I was five or six, so basically forever,” said high school senior, Ashlee Holloway.

Gena Hill and Jordan Long will tell you the same thing.

“You have to take charge and really show your character in life, and that’s really what Girls Inc. has shown me,” Long explained. “Just to be bold, strong, courageous, confident, smart, all of those things, and it’s teaching me a lot of things just to go into the world and just be active and be ready.”

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Hill added, “I’d say the most rewarding thing is, from an early age, I got to learn about different types of things. Like, I remember when I was a kid we would have acting classes, and I had never done anything like that before.”

Saturday marked the 11th year of the Holiday Happenings event. This year’s theme was Winter Wonderland.

“Every year we come together with our families because we want to celebrate them, but also we want to just show, share some joy with them,” said Cheryl Jones, president & CEO of Girls Inc. of St. Louis.

The goal of the national organization is to empower girls of all ages to be strong, smart, and bold.

“We serve 9,000 young women, and so that’s in our afterschool programs, that’s our summer programs and we also go into schools, and so right now we have 72 school partners,” Jones said.

The day started with breakfast and a visit from Santa. Parents and their kids could also make a stop at the Girls Inc. holiday market. Jones says all of this would not be possible without the generosity of the community and donations.

“The Gateway Chapter of Links, Inc. gave us money in support of our dolls. We bought 50 dolls so that girls of age 5 to 10 could receive a doll,” Jones said. “We’re really excited about it. We want to make sure that the girls that receive these dolls also understand that the beauty of the dolls is also within them.”

The event wrapped up with a performance, where Girls Inc. members could showcase their talents and spread joy through dance and music.

“Once you’re confident on the inside, it will literally bleed out of you. People will see it, and they’ll say, ‘Hey, I like that. I like that person. They’re good. They know how to take up space. They know how to command a room. I need that,’ and that’s what opens opportunities up,” Holloway said.

To learn more about Girls Inc. of St. Louis, click here.


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