HAMPTON: A CENTURY OF TOWN AND BEACH, 1888-1988
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Chapter 23 -- Part 4
Winnicummet Rebekah Lodge, No. 26, I.O.O.F.
The international Jaycee movement began as the Junior Chamber of Commerce and was designed to give young men the business contacts that were otherwise unavailable to them. Eventually, the focus of the organization changed so that it was not just business -- people who were becoming involved with the organization, but rather men from all walks of life. The Hampton Jaycees have included in their membership Air Force personnel stationed at Pease Air Force Base, educators, firefighters, policemen, pilots, salesmen, and professionals, as well as entrepreneurs. It was this widening membership that prompted the name change nationally from the Junior Chamber of Commerce to the Jaycees.
More recently, the Jaycees became one of the first service organizations in the country to open its doors to members of both sexes. Between 1985 and 1987, the Hampton chapter added many women members.
The public service projects conducted by the Hampton Jaycees have been varied. The chapter has sponsored Boy Scout Troop 178, provided a scholarship to the Winnacunnet High School Scholarship Foundation, conducted bicycle safety programs, and introduced recycling in Hampton in the early 1970s. More recently, during the Halloween season, the chapter has run a haunted house that has served three purposes: The haunted house gives many children a safe alternative to trick-or-treating and/or vandalism; it provides funds for the Jaycees to put back into the community; and it serves as both a work experience and a financial contribution for Odyssey House.
Jaycees have also made a somewhat anonymous, but nevertheless significant, contribution to underprivileged families during the Christmas holidays. The annual Santa Fund project identifies, with the assistance of school, police, and other officials, families within the area who are having difficult financial times over the Christmas holidays. Children from those families are invited to go Christmas shopping with funds provided by the Jaycees. The children are encouraged to buy not for themselves but for their family members, in an attempt to instill the spirit of charity into the children who are being aided by the program.
The Bicentennial celebration in Hampton in 1976 was highlighted by the Summerfest, a joint project of the Meeting House Green Memorial and Historical Association and the Jaycees. Chicken barbecues, a large parade, daylong entertainment, and the world’s largest pancake (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) were all part of this effort.