Riverside – Offers Programs to Children in Need

Assistance League of Riverside members pack bags for the nonprofit’s Snack Attack program. (Photo courtesy of the Assistance League of Riverside)

Local children get a little help when Assistance League of Riverside is involved.

The Riverside nonprofit encourages the community to help children by shopping for their holiday decorations and gifts at the Holiday Magic Boutique.

Assistance League of Riverside is an all-volunteer organization of 250 members who help feed, clothe and educate local children at risk. The organization offers programs that help with many needs.

The organization’s Snack Attack program delivers 1,000 bags of healthy snacks weekly to elementary school students who are homeless, from low-income homes and who experience hunger over the weekend. Children in need are identified by their teachers. Volunteers then pack and deliver bags of nutritious snacks to 14 elementary schools on Fridays.

“We’re told there are children who rush to the office because they know what they are getting,” Gayle McThomas, the organization’s board president said. “It’s a little different from how many of us are used to being called to the office.”

Last year, the organization served over 31,500 snack bags.

Another of the organization’s programs, Operation School Bell®, provides school supplies, a backpack, shoes and clothing for children who are in need and have been referred by the school district. From the middle of September into November, elementary students are invited to shop for clothing at the Assistance League Chapter House. There they are able choose clothes that fit and that suit their tastes.

“We ask that the parents are available in the waiting room, but we want the children to have the experience of picking their own clothes,” McThomas said. “In that short time, you can see such a difference in the kids. They leave with their backpack and a smile.”

There is also a program for teens. Youth shop at JC Penney and select approximately $150 of clothing and shoes.

Throughout the year, the organization’s main source of income is their thrift shop at 3707 Sunnyside Drive in Riverside, which was recently remodeled. Assistance League of Riverside prides itself on the quality of items in their shop.

Recently, the shop opened its Holiday Magic Boutique, where customers can find holiday themed items and decorations. Items in the shop are constantly changing, so shoppers are encouraged to return.

“The Boutique is a lot of fun. People arrive in good spirits and leave happy because they have found something for themselves and things they can give as gifts,” McThomas said. “Some items are brand new and still in the packages.”

The shop is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and from from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Proceeds from the Thrift Shop support Assistance League of Riverside programs and the organization also depends on donations and grants. Recently, the organization received a grant from the Irene S. Rockwell Fund through The Community Foundation. They are currently running an annual giving campaign and welcome support from the community.

Assistance League of Riverside invites local residents to consider joining and helping with the work they do in the community. There are no requirements outside of dues and members are welcome to volunteer at the Thrift Shop or for programs as much or as little as they would like.

“A lot of our folks are retired and may have been in education and I think a lot of them have seen what we have done over the years and want to help,” said McThomas. “And volunteering keeps people young. We’ve got a fountain of youth here!”

More information: http://www.assistanceleagueriverside.org/  or 951-682-3445