By Anthony Whitacre
By Anthony Whitacre
To clothe, comfort, and educate children of the community; this is the mission statement of the Assistance League of Riverside that has been serving children for over 41 years.
The Assistance League of Riverside is a chapter in the National Assistance League that began in 1894 when a group of Los Angeles society women wanted to start a small charity.
This league formed committees to visit the sick and investigate cases of poverty or violence in families that were reported to them.
After much growth by women volunteers throughout World War I, the National Assistance League was formed by Anne Banning and Ada Edwards Laughlin.
The Assistance League of Riverside was chartered in 1966 as the 37th chapter of the National Assistance League.
The league is a nonsectarian, nonpolitical and non-profit organization that helps children in the community through various philanthropic programs.
One of these is called Operation School Bell. This program helps to provide children with new school clothes and hygiene kits to over seven different school districts and the California School for the Deaf.
“It is just heart warming,” Valerie Found said, President of the Assistance League. “A lot of people join because of the friendships we develop in serving the kids. It tugs at your heart strings. Hardly a day goes by when one of us isn’t in tears because of a kid’s situation.”
Found is the President of the Assistance League of Riverside. She has been with the league for nine years. She wanted the opportunity to do things for others like people had done things for her when she was a girl.
In order to raise money for the children’s new clothes, the league works out of a thrift shop taking in old clothes and selling them. The money that comes into the shop goes into helping with Operation School Bell and the other various programs that assist the community.
“I got to dress my first child for Operation School Bell. It’s great helping others feel good. The children’s smiles are worth the effort and work when they get new clothes for school,” Sita Bartold said.
Some of the other programs include Operation Snack Attack, where on every Friday a nutritious sack lunch is provided to homeless kids in the school system to eat over the weekend.
The Assistance League also has a program called Operation Bear Pals that distributes new teddy bears and used stuffed animals to victims of abuse and accidental trauma.
Being inside the Assistance League of Riverside could bring tears to anyone’s eyes. The members really do a good job with helping out the people of the community. There are many members who have volunteered their time to the organization.
Bernard Berkowitz has been one of the only male members for three and half years. He joined after he saw that the league helped his students out with clothing for interviews.
“The women are very interesting and sharp. It’s a privilege to be involved in the community service,” Berkowitz said.
The league is working on obtaining more members because very few people are willing to volunteer to help out their community.
Without volunteers the organization can not exist. The Assistance League is located on Sunnyside Drive in Riverside and it is always open to new donations or members.
“With more bodies, more hands, more hearts, we can do more,” Found said.