Assistance League, founded in California, is the first nonprofit, nonpolitical, nonsectarian organization to recognize the potential of volunteers helping those less fortunate to a better, more meaningful life.  The first chapter began in Los Angeles in 1919.  As the area grew, more chapters were formed.  To support the growing number of chapters, National Assistance League was organized in 1936 and incorporated in 1949.

From this modest beginning, Assistance League has grown to 120 chapters with over 23,000 members throughout the United States.

In 1933, Mrs. Earl Wheelet Paul, Mrs. George W. Eckerman, and Mrs. Wallace Cadet Taylor founded the Junior Welfare League of Upland to serve the needy of our area.  It was incorporated as Assistance League of Upland on November 27, 1953, and became a chartered chapter of National Assistance League.  Mrs. Hancock Banning organized the Founder Chapter of Assistance League in 1919.  The purpose was to serve the emotional and physical needs of children and adults of all ages.

Through the generous donations and efforts of many in the community, our Assistance League of Upland chapter house was completed in 1964.  The building houses meeting facilities.  In 1996, adjacent property was purchased to house Operaton School Bell®, the chapter office and our Thrift Shop.

In 2003, in recognition of the fact that our services are provided to families living in neighboring communities, members voted to change the name to Assistance League of the Foothill Communities (consisting of Ontario, Montclair, Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Alta Loma, Etiwanda and portions of Fontana).  Our member volunteers have worked to make the Foothill Communities a better place to live and go to school through our programs.    

During the 2015-2016 year, 175 members contributed over 26,000 hours to serve nearly 11,000 children and young adults in our community

In 1979, in an effort to increase donations for our programs, the Christmas Tree Brunch came into existence with five or six elaborately decorated trees which were raffled off.  The Christmas Tree Brunch has now grown into our largest fundraising event with more than 14 amazingly decorated showcase trees, plus many creative silent and live auction items.  It is quite the extravaganza!

The Operation School Bell® philanthropy has been in existence in 1985 and started by serving 176 children.  This important program has greatly expanded.  We currently partner with Kohl’s (Upland Colonies) department store to dress over 1400 children with new school clothing enabling them to attend school with confidence and enthusiasm.

Fostering New Beginnings supplies bed and bath linens, household goods, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, grocery cards, and bus passes to young adults transitioning from foster care to independent living.  This is made possible with the generous support of the Harold Edelstein Foundation.

This year AL Bears provided comfort and love to 645 individuals in traumatic situations.  Bears are provided to police, fire and emergency services in the communities we serve,  and also to the children’s ward at San Antonio Regional Hospital and to Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Fontana.

Our history is not complete without recognition and appreciation to the original benefactors of our chapter as well as members who have gone above and beyond in their volunteer efforts.


Honorary Patrons


These friends of Assistance League were inspiration and encouragement to many. We will always be grateful for their personal interest and their financial support.


                                              1989 Sharon Reese • 1991 Martha Mason • 1994 Irene Nugent • 1996 Mary Lou Greenwood • 1998 Sharon Smith                                                     2002 Hilary Johnson • 2004 Carol McKeown • 2010 Kay Johnson • 2015 Paula Carter

Ada Edwards Laughlin award recipients have been members for a significant number of years, and have given outstanding “behind the scenes” service.  The award is named for the co-founder of Assistance League who filled the role of hardworking assistant to Anne Banning.  Ms. Laughlin was a graduate of Stanford University (1898) and a pioneer with woman’s basketball.

Past Presidents Honored at 2017 Installation Luncheon

Past Presidents: (L-R) Patti Dunkin, Phyllis Shainberg, Jacque Sullivan, Andrea Willerth, Kathy Scholl
Past Presidents: (L-R) Sue White, Esther Mott, Carol Gedeon