Assistance League programs impact felt throughout city
Low-income students helped with clothes, safety, activity fees
A building with a sign “AL Thrift House” sits tucked between a strip mall and an auto shop along West Avenue, but it’s not just a shopper’s emporium.
Like the sign says, there is a thrift store, but it’s also the headquarters of the nonprofit Assistance League of San Antonio, where roughly 440 volunteers help administer 10 philanthropic programs that work with schools, governmental agencies and nongovernmental groups to help children and adults in San Antonio, according to Catherine Campion, vice president of marketing communications for the Assistance League of San Antonio.
The 30-year-old Assistance League of San Antonio is one of more than 120 nationwide and one of 10 in Texas. It is 100-percent volunteer-based, which keeps overhead down, Campion said.
“ We really try to make a positive impact in San Antonio.”
Kay Murrell, volunteer
From June 2016 through May 2017, the Assistance League and its auxiliary, Bexar Hugs, had a positive effect on the lives of more than 61,000 children and adults in San Antonio, according to Campion.
The Assistance League’s flagship program is Operation School Bell, which helps kindergarten through fifth-grade students from low-income Title 1 schools. The students are bused to the building, at 2611 West Ave., to “shop” for two new, complete head-to-toe outfits. Last year, the program provided 4,548 children with new clothes or school uniforms, shoe vouchers, books and a personal safety booklet.
Campion said another 5,672 children were served through Togs for Tots, a program that clothes newborns to children 4 years of age. Members also sewed more than 600 gowns for the newborns.
Through Watch Me Grow, the Assistance League had a positive effect on 33,709 children and adults with a booklet in English and Spanish designed to help parents understand children’s developmental stages.
Members also delivered a personal safety program called I’m In Charge to 10,177 children from kindergarten through fifth grade. It provides information on things such as dealing with cyberbullying, according to Campion and Murrell.
The Assistance League provided scholarships to five junior and senior college students in Bexar County last year. Members decorated 2,056 fishing and ball caps for acutely ill patients — children and adults — through its CAPS program. Adopt A Resident served 124 senior citizens at a local nursing home. And, through the Bexar Hugs Auxiliary, the ALamo Bears program provided 500 stuffed bears to children in the court system and ALamo Totes provided 480 duffel bags filled with personal care items and toys to children in shelters.
The Assistance League also has the Enhanced Learning Awards, which provide supplements to local teachers to help cover the costs of activities and projects — such as a large whiteboard for the classroom, an educational field trip or a science fair, for example.
“We have a program that impacts almost every area in the San Antonio community,” said Kay Murrell, one of the volunteers. “We really try to make a positive impact in San Antonio.”
About half of the Assistance League’s funding comes from sales at its Thrift House, at 2611 West Ave., Campion said. The Thrift House takes donations of clothes, household items, books, jewelry and artwork.
The organization also gets grants and contributions from businesses, foundations, and benefactors. The Assistance League also conducts fundraisers and takes monetary donations from the public.
The Assistance League’s primary fund-raiser is its annual Lit ’n Lunch, which is also an SA300 event and will be held Jan. 31, 2018, at the Witte Museum Mays Family Center. The keynote speaker is June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Challenger Commander Dick Scobee and founder of the Challenger Centers — one which is located at San Antonio College. At this event, the Assistance League will also recognize a Harlandale ISD high school student with the Rising Star Award for literary achievement.
“Assistance League of San Antonio members proudly serve the San Antonio area community with enthusiasm, commitment, and a loving spirit,” Campion said. “In addition to volunteering for the philanthropic programs, which is really the heart of our organization, our members volunteer in the Thrift Store — packing up estate sales, taking in donations, sorting and marking items for sale, stocking the shelves, and serving store customers. Our members also volunteer their time and talents to making each of our fundraisers successful events. They do these things because they know that it is through this work that Assistance League of San Antonio is truly transforming lives and strengthening community.”
“ We have a program that impacts almost every area in the San Antonio community.”
Kay Murrell, volunteer