written by Shirley Lessiak | @nonprofitalgp
Assistance League’s story starts in the late 1800’s with our founder, Anne (Smith) Banning. In 1894, after holding a Butterfly Tea, the Los Angeles Times reports Assistance League as “a group of society friends including Anne who gathers together to help those who need assistance in their community.” These friends continue through the new century, in an informal way, hosting annual balls and other events. After a few years in the early 1900’s our co-founder, Ada (Edwards) Laughlin joins the informal group and becomes Anne’s “administrator of ideas and money.”
Moving forward to 1917 during World War I, Anne and other members turned their focus from local assistance to global. Anne and Ada were active in the Red Cross and pursued a brilliant strategy, which continues today. To fund their philanthropic programs, they started a Red Cross Shop. The shop raised money and included a tearoom with models and involved people in the local community. Adding services and members, they were best known for the Attic Tea Room where Hollywood dined and volunteered. Many notable people visited Assistance League including First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. Jean Harlow worked at the Thrift Shop on Fridays. Shirley Temple modeled at fashion shows as a little girl and became a member of our girls’ group later known as Assisteens. This successful business model evolved into our Assistance League Thrift Shops.
Today, Assistance League of Greater Placer chapter is represented by 240 members who donate their time and effort to our philanthropic programs and working in our thrift shop. Our beginning in 1987, known then as Assistance Guild of Auburn had 30 members.
In time, we added a nationally recognized philanthropic program – Operation School Bell®, which is an outreach program for school children, who are identified by school personnel, to shop for new school clothing and shoes. Between May 2014-June 2015, Operation School Bell helped clothe 1,137 children and provided 232 pairs of shoes.
Our school liaisons worked with schools to deliver school supplies (226 backpacks filled with school supplies, 2,015 dictionaries and 80 personal grooming kits). Other members tutored 568 school children at local elementary schools.
Kids on the Block is an outreach educational puppet program – members taught 4,492 elementary school children about social issues, such as bullying. Impressive numbers, but that isn’t all we do. We supplied 2,000 teddy bears to hospitals and California Highway Patrol to provide reassurance and comfort to children in traumatic situations.
Our Thrift Shop is staffed by volunteers. It is the main fundraiser for the chapter and proceeds support our chapter’s philanthropic programs. The Thrift Shop provides the community with the opportunity to purchase gently used items at affordable prices. Donations are accepted Tuesday through Saturday. One of our philanthropic programs is Dressing for Success. Partnering with eight approved agencies throughout Placer County, Assistance League of Greater Placer members help clients (men and women who are entering or reentering the workforce) dress for interviews using our gently-used clothing. We have several dedicated members who meet, help, teach when needed to and encourage the clients.
A donation to Assistance League of Greater Placer is a donation to our community. Click Here to learn more about us.
Thank you to our donors!