Assistance League Volunteers Reach out to Community’s most Needy

By Rick Nathanson / Journal Staff Writer
PUBLISHED: Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 12:02 am
Full article with photos

Assistance League of Albuquerque Thrift Shop volunteer Robin Rook stores items that will be used for league programs that help the victims of domestic violence and children who are placed in the custody of the Children, Youth and Families Department. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

Whether it’s providing shoes or clothing, toiletries or teddy bears, support for the young or the elderly, the Assistance League of Albuquerque is dedicated to helping those with the fewest resources meet some of their most basic needs.

Shopper Laticia Mendoza looks through racks of clothing at the Assistance League of Albuquerque’s Thrift Shop on Lomas NE near San Mateo. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

“For the last 10 years or so, families have been especially challenged,” says Janeanne Snow, the Assistance League’s vice president of membership. “Parents are unemployed or underemployed and they depend more and more on government agencies, private agencies and volunteer agencies. Without organizations like the Assistance League, these people would fall through the cracks.”

The civic organization, which operates with 275 unpaid volunteers, administers eight programs to economically disadvantaged clients. The largest portion of money for these programs comes from sales at the Assistance League Thrift Shop, 5211 Lomas NE. Supplemental revenue is generated through several fundraisers, including a Christmas Shop sale, a spring geranium sale, and a spring Antique or Unique? gala event.

“The more donations and grants we get, and the more people who help us through fundraising, the more goods and services we can put directly back into the community,” Snow says.

How you can help

The Assistance League of Albuquerque needs new or gently used clothing, household items and financial donations. Drop off clothing and home items at the Assistance League of Albuquerque Thrift Shop, 5211 Lomas NE.Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Mail checks to P.O. Box 35910, Albuquerque, 87176.

All cash donations are tax deductible.

The annual budget of the Assistance League of Albuquerque is about $400,000, but only 15 percent goes toward operating costs and maintenance of the league’s thrift center building, and a gallery building in Old Town where seniors sell their arts and crafts to supplement their incomes, Snow says. There are no salaried employees on the payroll, she adds.

The Assistance League of Albuquerque’s programs include:

Operation School Bell: Provides new clothing and shoes to pre-K through eighth-grade schoolchildren. “It is frequently the first new clothing and shoes these children have ever received in their lives,” Snow says. The program operates out of about 40 Title I schools, meaning schools at which at least 50 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

Last year the League clothed 4,000 children, each of whom received three new outfits and one pair of new shoes, Snow says.

Assault Survivor’s Kit: Provides a change of clothing, cosmetics and hygiene products to people who have been physically and sexually assaulted. Typically, the clothing they were wearing has to be confiscated by police as evidence.

Kids are Pretty Special: When children are removed and placed in the custody of the state Children, Youth and Families Department, “they are frequently under-dressed, not dressed at all or just wrapped in a blanket,” Snow says. “We provide clothing, baby formula, diapers, some snacks and other items so the children can get cleaned up and have something to eat until they are placed with a family.”

The Blue Portal: Senior citizens who create art and craft items can supplement their fixed incomes by selling their pieces at this Assistance League-owned gallery located at 2107 Church NW in Old Town. Seniors keep 100 percent of the revenue.

TLC, Tender Loving Care: Women quilters and knitters create quilts, hats and other items for hospitalized cancer patients and premature babies. Last year, the program provided nearly 2,000 articles for patients at University of New Mexico Hospital.

Jessie Lucero, a volunteer with the Assistance League of Albuquerque’s Thrift Shop, restocks a shelf with stem glasses.

Thrift Shop sales help the league fund a number of its programs. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

Buddy Bear Patrol: The League purchases new teddy bears to give to Albuquerque police officers and firefighters to present to frightened children in threatening or dangerous crisis situations.

Kids on the Block: Volunteers go to second- and third-grade classes around the city and perform puppet shows to teach children about safety, stranger danger, bullying and peer pressure.

Sharing: This program works with the YWCA to provide gently used clothing and some household items to women who are re-entering the workforce after a lengthy hiatus, or women entering the workforce for the first time.

Antique or Unique?

The Assistance League of Albuquerque’s Antique or Unique? gala will be from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. March 23 at the Hotel Albuquerque, 800 Rio Grande NW. Tickets are $35 per person or $60 for two in advance, $40 and $65 at the door. Each ticket allows a person to bring one item for an expert appraisal. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres will be served.

A pre-party will be 6-9 p.m. March 22. Tickets are $75 per person and allow the ticket holder to have one item appraised. Appetizers and drinks will be served and guests can bid for goods and services in a live auction.

To order advance tickets go online to antiqueorunique.org/tickets

Editor’s note: Today, the Journal concludes its annual Help for the Holidays series, which spotlights areas in which community members can reach out to neighbors in need.

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