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Assistance League in the Community

Sowing Seeds of Growth: Kids Become Gardeners

Three great goals—help young children learn about plants, work together in nature, and eat fresh vegetables—are combined in a program of Assistance League of Southwest Washington.

The chapter works with kindergarteners and preschoolers at a local agency, Innovative Services Northwest, to increase literacy and help children, many of whom have developmental or social challenges, reach their potential. When the agency was installing a new playground, Assistance League members had a brainstorm: What if it included a garden tended by the children? Teachers and administrators were enthusiastic, and a new project was born.

First, the children planted vegetable seeds, including carrots, lettuce, peppers, herbs, tomatoes and eggplant  with the help of Assistance League members. They watched the seeds sprout under grow lights in their classrooms. When the weather and the plants were ready, the kids transplanted them, again with the help of chapter members,  into raised beds in their new playground.

They literally watched the growth of their garden every day, with mounting excitement. Sometimes their eagerness resulted in new learnings. For instance, carrots pulled out of the soil to see how big they’d gotten couldn’t be replanted and green tomatoes did not taste all that good. Chapter members continued to help tend the garden, using natural methods to control pests. Ladybugs were a great hit with the young gardeners.

As the the veggies were ready, kids harvested them to be included in their lunches. The consumption of vegetables increased notably, and kids were eager to tell those who came to tend the garden that they’d been eating some of that lettuce on their sandwiches. When a member suggested the children smell the herbs, one boy bent down close to the plants and came up with a mouthful of parsley. “It tastes funny,” he announced.

Everyone—the agency, teachers, children and chapter members with green thumbs, pronounced the program a success. The kids just finished planting the seeds for this year’s garden.

Assistance League in the Community

Operation School Bell®

Can you imagine never having a new pair of shoes, only attending school half of the time as you must share your clothes with a sibling or an entire family sharing one toothbrush?  This is happening to 50% of the children in our country.  Operation School Bell, the national program of Assistance League, strives to meet the needs of children across our country.  During the past year, over 331,000 children were reached by the 120 chapters.  Since the program was started in 1958, over 4.3 million school-age children have been served.

Many chapters provide new school clothing, shoes and coats along with other items, including backpacks, books, school supplies and food for the weekend, in their programs.  Another aspect of this program is to provide dental or vision care and personal care kits.  The goals of providing children with these items are raising self-esteem, building confidence in the students and make a tremendous impact in their education.  This program also reduces the teasing and bullying of these students.

Watching the children as they are given new shoes, shop for clothing for the first time or receiving a new backpack is as rewarding to the member as it is for the children.  Whether the chapter provides vouchers, shops with the students in a local store or clothes them in their own facility, the members feel such a bonding with these students.  Operation School Bell takes a huge amount of effort, dedication, funding and manpower, which is willingly given by the members.

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ALmap

1.5

million people served

$38.8

million dollars returned to local communities

3.2

million hours of volunteer service

News from our Chapters

Community Volunteer Spotlight

The Honey-Doers
Assistance League of San Antonio

Do you have a “honey-do” list at your house?  Well, so does Assistance League of San Antonio.  Fortunately, the chapter also has a group of dedicated husbands who work hard at crossing chores off that list, always with good humor and a smile.

The gentlemen work the shift in the Thrift House during the regular meeting which frees members to attend.  They occasionally work other shifts allowing members to attend fundraising events.  There are some regulars – men who come weekly, even daily, and help in the receiving area.  They check out the electronics, appliances and lamps to ensure they are in good working order before they are put into the Thrift House.  They break down cardboard boxes and are the “dumpster monitors”.  Recently, one very dedicated Honey-doer showed up daily during a Thrift House renovation and did whatever was asked of him – picking up the trash left by the homeless community, moving bookcases and furniture, taking fixtures apart, putting fixtures together, unhooking electronics and attending to the dumpster duties.  Assistance League of San Antonio is indeed fortunate to have such dedicated Community Volunteers.

Pictured on the right, from left to right:  Leonard Marshall, Wayne Wright, Javier Cerna, Bud Giffin

We Need Your Help

Join us! Become a part of an incredible group of volunteers who are dedicated to making a difference in your community. Assistance League offers unique volunteer opportunities that fit your interest and time.