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Transforming Lives • Strengthening Community


Assistance League in the Community

Assistance League Takes on Literacy

Drawing on the success of reaching their national goal of collecting and donating 500,000 books in five years, Assistance League has decided to devote a special day of their own to help combat childhood literacy. On the fourth Saturday of February 2018, chapters across the country will stage their first “Legacy of Literacy” event in their own communities. In keeping with the new tagline, Transforming Lives • Strengthening Communities, the goal is to place books into the hands of children that might not otherwise have access to them.

When you research statistics on illiteracy you will find a plethora of studies, all showing the strong relationship between reading skills and crime rate, as well as a correlation between literacy and health. Literacy statistics can be quite revealing. According to the National Center for Education, 93 million adults in America read at or below the basic level necessary to contribute successfully to society. Fourth grade has become the crucial measuring milestone, showing that two thirds of the students who do not read proficiently by the end of the fourth grade year will end up in jail or on welfare. Three out of four food stamp recipients read at or below the lowest two literacy levels. Studies conclude that low literacy contributes to an amount in excess of $70 million in direct health care costs.

The National Marketing Communications Committee hopes to inspire chapters to be creative in organizing their events and to engage their local communities to become involved in the movement to erase childhood illiteracy. The Ferst Foundation states that the single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is through an introduction to books. In middle income neighborhoods, the ratio of books per child is thirteen to one. In low income households, the ratio decreases to one book for every 300 children. Therefore, it is vital that children in low income homes have access to books and reading materials.

So whether your chapter has a simple book drive to collect books, asks businesses to join in the festivities, or plans an elaborate affair, here’s to a successful first year for the “Legacy of Literacy” event in your area.

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Assisteens® Spotlight


Assisteens is the youth auxiliary of Assistance League chapters.  Assisteens provides volunteer opportunities for young people in grades 7 through 12.  The goals are to develop a sense of community responsibility, self-reliance, personal responsibility, poise, public speaking, leadership skills and to support the chapter.  Assisteens raise money in a variety of ways to fund ongoing Assistance League and Assisteens philanthropic programs that benefit their community.

Assistance League was founded in 1919 by Anne (Mrs. Hancock) Banning and her friends, based on an informal charity in Los Angeles started in about 1894.  In the 1890s, social events raised money for local charitable giving. Assistance League, with Anne Banning and Ada Edwards (Mrs. Homer II) Laughlin and friends, provided money and clothing for the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire victims.  When the war started in Europe in 1914, Anne and her friends worked for the Red Cross and, in 1917, set up the Red Cross Shop that raised $150,000 in one year.  After the war ended in 1918, the ladies wanted to continue working together, helping people in need.

In 1919, Assistance League was formally organized, with Good Samaritan providing aid to returning veterans and their families and the Film Location Bureau raising the needed funds by renting private properties to movie companies.  Founding members were prominent women of Los Angeles of all faiths and political views.  In 1923, Assistance League moved to DeLongpre Avenue in Hollywood where the campus of Founder Chapter (Assistance League of Southern California) remains today. The motto was “All For Service and Service For All.”  Anne Banning felt that women worked best in like-minded groups, so auxiliaries were formed.  Day Nursery was added in 1924, followed by Girls’ Club, Theatre for Children, Toy Loan and Boys’ Club. Junior Auxiliary was formed in 1929 for post-college-aged young women.

Read the full history of Assisteens.

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