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Assistance League in the Community

Childhood Literacy Programs – Key to Academic Success

Children growing up in book-deprived homes miss out on wonderful imaginary worlds where cats wear hats, llamas wear red pajamas and a curious little monkey has one adventure after another. Created with captivating words and colorful illustrations, youth books, from preschool through the elementary years, instill a lifelong love of reading that translates into early academic success and a greater chance for higher education.

According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, only 48 percent of families below the poverty level read to their preschoolers, leaving them with a deficiency that continues to grow as they advance in grade levels. Educators know that mastering reading skills early on is a key indicator, not only to future school success, but to success in life as well.

Assistance League is committed to boosting childhood literacy by putting more books into the hands of boys and girls. In the past four years, chapters across America collected and donated close to 400,000 children’s books to various schools and organizations as part of Make A Difference Day, a national day of doing good.

One of the oldest Assistance League literacy programs was started fifteen years ago by the Los Gatos–Saratoga chapter. Member volunteers read to kindergarten through third grade students once a month for thirty minutes, then leave the books for the children to take home. They also provide dictionaries for third graders.

Assistance League of Southern Utah has a new 3-month literacy program geared to help preschool students meet state academic standards, one book at a time. Members read books, agreed upon by the teacher, on a one-to-one basis. In order to get students excited about reading at an early age, books are chosen that both students and their parents can enjoy reading together.

 Assistance League of Chicagoland West’s Early Reading program prepares preschool, kindergarten, and early elementary school students for future school success and fosters reading/language skills that benefit family members young and old. Member volunteers read to Head Start and early elementary students in the spring, then gift the children with a book to take home. In the fall, the chapter distributes backpacks loaded with books and other materials to schools that are tight on resources. Backpacks serve as a lending library that are checked out and taken home on a rotating basis.

Assistance League of Arcadia Assisteens® staff a reading program called Book Buddies in partnership with the Arcadia Public Library.  Children sign up for one-on-one story time at the library with teen auxiliary members.

A common thread throughout these programs is that the books the children take home are often the only books they own. By providing take home books and reading aloud in schools, Assistance League is making a difference, one child at a time, one book at a time.

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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$38.8

million dollars returned to local communities

1.5

million people served

3.2

million hours of volunteer service

News from our Chapters

Community Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Kathy Baskerville
Volunteer from Assistance League of Salem-Keizer

How does a career as a crime scene cleaner, a bachelors degree in psychology, and experience working on a crisis hotline all combine to make the perfect community volunteer at a furniture store?  Just ask Kathy Baskerville, who volunteers 12 hours per month at Assistance League of Salem-Keizer’s Encore Furniture Store.  When Kathy came in to shop for furnishings a few years ago and learned that one of the chapter’s programs helps young adult foster children set up their first household, she immediately wanted to help- and knew she could.  Her skills all came together to give her the volunteer job she loves- working with furniture and décor, keeping things very clean and knowing how to listen to customers.

Kathy feels that her contribution helps provide the kind of helping hand she wishes she had received when she was a foster child in Portland during her youth.  Sometimes everything comes together for just the right reasons!

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.