Enriching Children's Lives in the North Coast Community 7

Philanthropic efforts enrich communities and change lives. Based on the philosophy of serving those in need, the National Assistance League (AL) was developed in 1935 by Anne Banning and Ada Edwards Laughlin in Southern California. It quickly spread; now there are 120 AL chapters across the U.S. Following AL’s charitable model is the Assistance League of North Coast (ALNC), serving the communities of Carlsbad, Vista and Oceanside.

Established at a guild in 1992, ALNC became AL’s 105th chapter in 2000. Since then, it has grown to approximately 145 members—all volunteers—serving more than 10,000 children over the course of 19,000 service hours. ALNC partners with local schools and health clerks to identify needs in the community, and all 12 of the chapter’s philanthropic programs focus on enriching the lives of children.

To promote academic success, ALNC donates books to schools with lower income students through their reading program, I Love To Read. Students compete to read the most books, and the top readers win a prize.

One of ALNC’s earliest programs, Footsteps, now serves more than 1,700 low-income children. During the school year, school buses transport children weekly to Payless ShoeSource, where about 20 volunteers act as personal shoppers, fitting children for brand new shoes. They provide six pairs of new socks, and their Working Women’s group assembles health kits packed with daily care essentials, such as toothbrushes, soap and combs.

“All the benefit goes to the child; it’s very child-centric,” says Sandy Matheus, President of ALNC. “It really helps build a child’s self-esteem to have the right shoes, to feel like the other kids, and feel proud about themselves. You see it right away.”

After Matheus retired in 2006, she wanted to do volunteer work. When she became an ALNC member, she was immediately hooked. She saw how the organization directly served children in the community. “I didn’t have to write a check and have it go to an unnamed face or person,” says Matheus. “I can see how our money is applied to these children.”

ALNC volunteers are active in local schools. For the I’m In Charge program, they talk to 4th graders about home safety if they’re ever home alone. “I think that’s what sets us apart—being a hands-on organization—because we see how our money is spent,” says Matheus. “Every penny of what we earn goes to a child.”

About 70 percent of program funding comes from their thrift shop, the Assistance League Thrift Store. Located at 1830 Oceanside Blvd, the boutique-like shop has been very successful. “It’s been an amazing year to see the income from that, so that we can provide more for the schools,” says Matheus. Their programs are also largely supported by grants, donations (which they accept through their website), and corporate sponsorships. The Autumn Fantasy—their annual fundraising event—raises money through sponsorships, raffles, and auctions. Their 22nd annual event will be held on November 5th at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad.

You can become an ALNC member for $75/year, or fill out an application as a transient volunteer. ALNC is currently establishing a planned giving program to build an endowment, enabling them to continue the success of the organization for years to come. ALNC.org