Written by Carol Barry
“Great things are brought about and burdens are lightened through the efforts of many hands.” M. Russell Ballard
Assistance League® of Greater Placer is honored to assist our community in a variety of ways, including awarding funds, donating time, materials, and “woman power” whenever possible. Our hearts want to make life brighter and safer for school children and seniors, wage earners or dependents, ill or healthy, wherever there is a need.
Our ability to fund over a dozen Placer County philanthropies depends upon a little over 200 volunteers, a committed local chapter, and a national organization that guides us with “tried and true” philanthropic programs. National Assistance League suggested a Waste Not program that our chapter adopted late last year. This program has solved many issues for our Thrift Shop, where most of our funds are raised. Imagine that! In the year of a pandemic when most of our philanthropies were seriously impacted, we developed and implemented a way to broaden our reach, serving even more Placer County community needs . . . and beyond!
A long list of member volunteers process items donated to us by thousands of generous members of Placer County communities. Furniture, clothing, jewelry, shoes, bedding, rugs, lamps, kitchenware, collectibles, children and teen clothing, sporting goods . . . the list of donated items is virtually endless! It can get complicated. Let’s follow some boxes donated to the Thrift Shop, containing a variety of sizes of men’s shirts, pants, jackets and shoes, to see where it ends up. Some of it is in excellent condition and ready to be priced and placed in our Thrift Shop for sale. Some of the clothing has signs of wear and does not meet our standards for “gently used”. The dedicated Thrift Shop “Back Room” volunteers who sort incoming clothing donations simply cannot bring themselves to throw out useful clothing! So our chapter formed a Homeless Task Force to look into how we could repurpose items that the Thrift Shop sometimes cannot use.
The Homeless Task Force members got to work and discovered that Seventh Day Adventists would be very interested in used men’s clothing. Every Monday, Seventh Day Adventists provide a shower, breakfast, sack lunch and clothing for 25-45 homeless folks, and they greatly appreciate warm men’s coats, pants and shoes. Our Homeless Task Force also discovered that The Gathering Inn would be able to distribute men’s clothing, shoes and toiletries. Gathering Inn distributes food, clothing and shelter every night to 75-100 homeless people who are either employed or working on improving their lives. They are accountable to a case manager, must test drug free and follow a designated program to get their lives back together. They offer “a hand up, not a handout.” We are delighted to be able to deliver clothing and accessories to help support these organizations. Our able “Back Room” volunteers now do the sorting of the clothing to be donated, according to what each community organization needs or requests.
Other excess clothing items that do not meet Thrift Shop standards, or items that we simply do not carry, are donated to David Emojong, an enterprising philanthropist for Choose Life Africa (ICL) and Yolo Employment Services (YES). He also trains homeless people in social and communication skills at his Yolo County thrift shop in Woodland and ships clothing and soft goods to Africa. His mission, like ours, is to find what is needed in the community and find solutions. He finds a home for anything we can spare. AND . . . some of our excess lightweight clothing will now find its way to needy recipients in the Philippines! This is the “Waste Not” program’s first year . . . imagine how broad our reach could be!!
Our Homeless Task Force continues to search for new organizations to whom we can repurpose excess donations. One of our volunteers collects donated towels for delivery to Placer County Animal Shelter. We also have a warm coat drive in the fall. We thank the generous members of our communities whose “no longer wanted” items come to us for placement in hands that need them. Bottom line . . . there is NO WASTE!
Profound gratitude to the volunteers who contributed their time and talents to the formation of our “newly on board’” Waste Not program, especially June Haugen and Lyne Mullen. Their efforts, and those of their team, make a HUGE difference in our ability to help our local communities – and beyond.