Ebach has been volunteering at Assistance League since 1992, when her youngest daughter was going to be a senior in high school and her two other children had gone off to college.
“A neighbor of mine who was a member said, ‘You need something to do to fill your days,’” Ebach said. “She always enjoyed it, and they’re always in need of some volunteers, so I decided to do it.”
Assistance League is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that has been in operation for over 51 years.
Assistance League has 122 chapters across the United States, and the Pueblo chapter’s signature philanthropic program is Operation School Bell®, which provides new school clothing to underprivileged children in Pueblo City Schools (D60) and Pueblo County School District 70.
Assistance League members work with school counselors to see that children who might otherwise start the school year in rundown apparel can, instead, begin the year in new clothes.
A significant chunk of Assistance League of Pueblo’s funding comes from revenue generated at its thrift store, The Bargain Box, on East Fourth Street, where donated clothes, toys, books and other items are offered for sale at a low cost.
Ebach is in charge of the receiving room at the thrift store, meaning she is responsible for taking in the donations and going out in the community and collecting items.
“My husband and I go out and we have a connect with people who do estate sales and we pick up leftovers from those sales,” Ebach said. “Some people will call us from garage sales.”
Between the pick-ups and the stuff people bring straight to the Bargain Box, the receiving room is chock-full of all types of items, including clothing and housewares.
Ebach is responsible for sorting through all those items, organizing them, pricing them and placing them at the thrift store. If there’s clothes that need to be washed, she does that. too.
Ebach said what’s kept her volunteering at the Assistance League all these years is the social aspect and all of the friendship she’s formed, as well as the gratification of being able to help children in the community.
“I love all the ladies I spend time with,” she said. “It’s become my social time. They’re all very great, and I’ve made lots of friends here.
“And seeing the smiles on kids’ faces and seeing their happiness to receive these clothes and things they get. At one time, one of the more impactful stories here was one of the children that received donations said, ‘I finally have my own toothbrush,’ because he was sharing with other family members.”
Ebach said she spends about 15-20 hours a week volunteering, and her peers say she is invaluable to the operation.
“This place would not be open without her,” said Wendy Thornton, Assistance League volunteer. “She’s here all the time, and if she’s not here, she’s out picking stuff up. And she’s very good with people.”
Ebach said Assistance League is always looking for more volunteers. Anyone interested in doing so can stop by the Bargain Box store and talk to whoever is manning the counter that day.