Boise – Looks to Expand to Neighboring Nampa

With the goal of helping Canyon County children in need through a variety of programs, Assistance League of Boise is looking to launch a new branch here.

Carolyn Rapp, president of Assistance League of Boise, said the startup branch is the first of its kind within the national organization, and it has already received seed money from the Assistance League and a grant from St. Luke’s Hospital. Now they’re looking for volunteers to help carry out their mission.

Julie Yamamoto, who serves as the chairwoman of the Canyon County Branch steering committee, said the initial focus of the new branch will be on two projects, Baby Bundles and Operation School Bell®.

“We’re going to focus on doing two things very well that we think people in Canyon County will see are needed,” Yamamoto said. “We’d like to collaborate with churches and other organizations that are already trying to meet the needs of young people.”

Baby Bundles will provide a backpack filled with necessities such as diapers, blankets and baby clothes for first-time mothers needing assistance who give birth at the participating hospitals, West Valley Medical and St. Luke’s in Nampa.

Operation School Bell will focus on helping school kids have adequate clothing for school, a need Yamamoto saw first-hand during her time as a school administrator.

“Some kids feel ‘less than’ because of what they wear,” said Yamamoto, who often saw kids come to school wearing the same clothes all week, or shoes that were duct-taped together. “We want to give them the ability to feel like they have something new to wear.”

Operation School Bell will provide students with a voucher for a set amount of money at either Kohl’s or JCPenney to buy necessary school clothing. Yamamoto said the initial goal for the Canyon County branch will be to meet the needs of the students in one classroom per school district.

Rapp said she is reminded of the need for this new Assistance League branch every time she has to turn away people from Canyon County from their programs in Boise. She said they often have teens from Canyon County who have heard about Cinderella’s Closet, which provides formal wear at a discounted price.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “We have had young people come from Canyon County and we have to say we’re sorry, but we can only serve kids in Ada County.”

Rapp said she is optimistic that there is enough interest in establishing the branch and is hopeful that many will want to join this all-volunteer organization.

“We would encourage anybody to join,” she said. “We’re mostly a female group, but we would love men to be a part of it, too.”

Yamamoto said there is plenty to be done, from putting baby bundles together, to helping with the logistics of Operation School Bell, to grant writing and fundraising.

She said there are needs to be met and it’s also a way to be a role model to our children for taking action.

“We are trying to model that kind of care for our community,” she said.