Most people are familiar with all the good things the Assistance League® (founded in 1919) does for communities nationwide. Things like Operation School Bell, which provides clothing for students, some of whom have never owned an article of new clothing, while also building self-esteem, improving school attendance and raising grades. Things like establishing thrift shops in which no- or low-income customers can purchase high-quality, gently-used merchandise that they may not otherwise be able to afford. Of course, those are only two of the Assistance League’s numerous community outreach efforts.
In 2018, Mary Blankenship Pointer, senior vice president, Republic Bank and Trust, began working to establish this country’s 120th Assistance League. The first organizational meeting of the Assistance League Oklahoma City was held in June 2018. At another meeting held in December, the group discussed forming projects aimed at providing coats for children (Coat a Kid), as well as supplying books for children, many of whom may never have owned even one of their own.
Like the 119 other chapters of the league nationwide, the newest will focus on the special needs of this community. Children and education will be the fledgling organization’s starting focal points, says Pointer, whose favorite saying is, “Youth constitutes 50 percent of our population, but 100 percent of our future.”
“It is our responsibility to help our children become the best that they can,” Pointer says, noting that the Assistance League Oklahoma City board is drawing ideas from the highly successful, well-established Assistance League of Norman, including its Operation School Bell (which they hope to emulate starting this fall), as well as from the national organization.
“We are fortunate to have a national Assistance League member, Judy Travis, on our board to help provide advice and direction,” Pointer notes.
However, the Oklahoma City league faces circumstances that vary greatly from their sister league to the south, she points out, noting that 84 percent of OKC students are considered economically disadvantaged.
Assistance League Oklahoma City faces different challenges in working with the Oklahoma City Public Schools, says Pointer, noting that there are 15 school districts within city limits, many lying in areas with high poverty levels, and an overall enrollment of 46,000. The system encompasses 55 neighborhood elementary schools, 16 secondary schools, two alternative schools and 15 charter schools. This compares to a Norman Public Schools enrollment of just over 16,000, and 17 elementary schools, four middle schools, two high schools and one alternative school.
Pointer invites all interested persons to contact her for more information about joining Assistance League Oklahoma City (as well as volunteering and/or making a donation) by calling her at 253.8641 or by email at MPointer@rbt.com.