Assistance League volunteers help Placer County in many ways
All across Placer County, hundreds of women are making the lives of others better.
They are the Assistance League of Greater Placer, in place since 2007. The vision statement of the organization is “to see an improvement in the lives of the members of our community through our gifts of time, skills, supplies and moral support.” Through their many programs, the 243 members are doing just that.
No strings attached
Throughout the school year, league volunteers head to elementary schools to present “Kids on the Block,” a puppet show offered to the schools for free.
On a recent trip to Rock Creek Elementary School, puppeteers Jenny Jansen, Sue Lloyd and Sharon Johnson joined emcee Sydney Whaley for a show about bullying. Third-graders sat in rapt attention as the puppeteers, dressed all in black and standing behind their puppets in the bunraku style of Japanese puppetry, presented a skit about school bullying.
The puppets had discovered a bullying problem at their school, and enlisted the help of a middle-school puppet – and the Rock Creek third-graders – to brainstorm ways to stop it. Through the show’s interactive format, the students sharedtheir ideas, including talking to an adult, forming an anti-bullying club and offering friendship to would-be bullies.
“Kids on the Block” is a national league program. There are 20 puppeteers locally and nine emcees, and the shows include the bullying skit and a show about how children learn in different ways.
The puppeteers agreed that their goal is to have children leave having learned about responsibility and respect.
“The kids – that’s what I do it for,” Lloyd said. “I love them, they’re just wonderful audiences.”
Clothes for kids
Several times a year, the league presents Operation School Bell, which provides school clothes to children in need. This year the program will dress nearly 1,400 students.
The nationwide Assistance League began with a need for clothing, according to volunteer MarySue Tiffany. In 1894, Pasadena socialite Anne Banning learned about a family with five children who went to school on alternating days because they only had one pair of shoes to share.
“She got together with her socialite friends and took all their clothing that they didn’t need and she opened up a shop to sell it, and used that money to put back into the community,”?Tiffany said.
The Assistance League thrift shop is the main source of income for the local chapter. Tiffany said volunteers pride themselves on being “the Nordstrom of thrift shops,” making sure what they sell is of high quality.
Proceeds from the shop fund Operation School Bell. High-schoolers this year received $95 each, which can buy a lot of the basics, especially since Kmart gives the league a 20 percent discount for the program.
Dyana Heer, of Auburn, said that since her family’s paving company and worm farm closed, money has been tight. A teacher recommended Operation School Bell for her 11-year-old son, Josh, and Heer said her three children’s back-to-school shopping would not have happened without it.
“He’d still be wearing last year’s clothes and hand-me-downs, and thrift store shopping a lot,” Heer said. “This helps enormously, and it was a nice surprise.”
Many league members say helping children is the reason they love the program, including Suzanne Ross, of Newcastle, who has been with the league for 20 years.
“There’s always something you can find to do,” she said as she manned the sign-in booth at Kmart. “Just helping out here and seeing the kids that are getting the clothes they need – it’s just a really great feeling.”
Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about the Greater League of Placer County by calling (530) 885-1982, emailing email@example.com or visiting www.greaterplacer.assistanceleague.org.
Assistance League of Greater Placer Thrift Shop
Where: 1263 Grass Valley Highway, Auburn
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Donations gladly received during business hours.
Information: (530) 885-1982