Jefferson-Lincoln County 6th Division Teen Court volunteers recently donated more than 50 toys and other items as Christmas gifts to patients in Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Sixth Division Teen Court volunteers are all teenagers and students in the Pine Bluff, Dollarway, Watson Chapel, Ridgway and White Hall school systems.

“This gift donation was the kids’ idea,” said Jeff Billingsley, a senior juvenile officer of the court and one of the teen court coordinators. “They come up with a monthly project to benefit a worthwhile cause or organization every month and this was their December project.”

“Thirty-five teen court volunteers participated in the Arkansas Children’s Hospital gift project,” said Courtney Brentley, a court orders clerk and legal secretary, who is also one of the teen court coordinators. “They went out on their own and bought the donated toys and other items on their own and with their own funds.”

Once all the donated items were consolidated, court officials and teen volunteers delivered the items to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital staff, who then distributed the gifts to appropriate patients in the hospital.

Jennifer Selig, executive director of volunteer engagement of Arkansas Children’s Hospital, expressed the institution’s gratitude for the volunteer’s donation,

“On behalf of our patients at Arkansas Children’s, thank you for your kind and thoughtful donation this holiday season. Your commitment and dedication to Arkansas Children’s truly makes a difference in our patients’ lives. As you can imagine, being in the hospital or visiting our outpatient clinics over the holidays is difficult – especially for children. Your generous gift of toys made our patients’ clinic visits and hospital stays brighter during this holiday season. After all, when families are counting on us, nothing but the best will do. Your donation makes that possible,” she said.

Jefferson-Lincoln County 6th Division Court is popularly known as “Juvenile Court.”

Judge Earnest E. Brown Jr. and his staff created the 6th Division Teen Court as an alternative to regular court for first-time, non-violent offenders arrested for minor offenses.

Participants who qualify are offered the opportunity to have their case heard in teen court at the time of their arrest. When an individual agrees to enter the teen court system, he or she admits guilt and signs a binding contract to participate in the program. The individual is sentenced by a court of teen volunteers supervised by practicing attorneys.

“When young people are arrested, they are at a fork in the road of their lives. We created teen court to give those individuals a glimpse of the criminal justice system and help them make a turn in the right direction,” Brown said. “We’ve seen a good measure of success with the program and the lion’s share of the credit goes to the teen volunteers who operate the court.”

More information on the 6th Division Court and Teen Court may be found on the Court’s website: www.jeffersoncircuitcourt6.org