Blog readers – Help Us Win Free Advertising and continue helping the community!

we-need-your-voteThe Orange County Register is giving away $2MM in FREE ADVERTISING to non-profits! HELP US WIN some of this free advertising!

We’re competing with many other non-profits for a share of these advertising dollars in the Register’s annual “Golden Envelope” contest. With our goal to return at least 67% of our revenue back to the community, our advertising budget is very small. And we don’t have to tell you that newspaper ads are expensive. More money to spend on ads in the Register (at no cost to us!) would really help us tell our story to the community, showcase our philanthropies, recruit new members, and bring more shoppers (and donations!) to the Thrift Shop. But we need your help!

All you have to do is VOTE for Assistance League of Irvine to win. You can vote once a day between now and the end of the contest on March 31. And we’re making it so easy to vote!  Just CLICK HERE to vote and then click on the big CHECK MARK. That’s all you have to do!

Every vote counts, and we sincerely appreciate your votes. Tell your friends – tell your neighbors – and help us win!

 

California Dreamin’ – Thrift Shop Road Trip

If you drove by the thrift shop a couple of Mondays ago and saw a group of ALI volunteers in their blue aprons clustered around a red Thunderbird convertible in front of the shop, you weren’t California Dreamin’. That was a visit from National Assistance League’s Anne Salenger, and her “Thrift Shop Road Trip.”

Anne is traveling around the country, visiting and blogging about different Assistance League thrift stores. We were thrilled to have Anne join us for one of our Monday behind-the-scenes work sessions. Our shop was filled with eager ALI volunteers sorting, cleaning, and changing out the merchandise for the coming week. Anne’s visit came just after our Holiday Extravaganza, so the shop looked especially festive with all our holiday items. Anne was able to see first-hand the incredible effort that goes into getting the shop ready to open for the week each Wednesday morning.

While everything ALI does is for our own community, it’s inspiring for us to be able to share our story with other chapters – and to learn from them as well. We hope Anne and her “Road Trip” come back soon for another visit!

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Our newest gift idea!

iStock_000009799796MediumDid you know that the ALI thrift shop has GIFT CERTIFICATES? These come in $5 denominations and are a perfect solution for those situations where you need an affordable gift. Like these:

  1. You belong to a Bunco group where everyone has to bring a token door prize to award during the evening.
  2. Your 8th grade daughter wants to have a sleepover birthday party, and you need party favors.
  3. The kid down the street, who has been sleeping on his parents’ couch ever since he graduated from college five years ago, because he’s “writing a screenplay,” finally moves into an apartment, and you want to give him something to send him on his way. (You give his parents a bottle of champagne, however.)
  4. You’re the church youth group advisor/band mother/drill team chaperone or some other type of adult volunteer for a high-school group, and need a unisex-type gift or prize for the kids, that isn’t food.

See how easy this could be? Just visit the thrift shop and tell the cashier you want to buy some GIFT CERTIFICATES. (And while you’re at the shop, reward yourself with a little something, too!)

ALI RECEIVES AWARD AT CITY HALL

041605810456467_10151867185532255_4859917203299874926_nAssistance League of Irvine was honored on May 31st by the Irvine Prevention Coalition and Irvine Community Drug Prevention. We were one of three groups and 15 individuals receiving awards at City Hall for outstanding work in support of Irvine youth.

ALI was nominated by Susan Holt, a school social worker who coordinates the Irvine Family Resource Program. In her nomination, Susan wrote: “The Assistance League has provided basic needs support through their Operation School Bell Program for decades, assisting low income students to be ready to learn by providing backpacks, school supplies and clothing to needy families in IUSD. Over the last few years, they have gone above and beyond OSB by making additional funds available to help some of our especially challenged K-12 students with graduation costs, bus passes to get to school, additional clothing and gift cards for extra school supplies. For these students, even getting to school can be a challenge. The help provided by AL funds helps them feel more prepared and ready to move forward with their education. It is hard to describe what a difference these supports make for homeless kids who may also be dealing with extreme family problems and financial pressures, personal challenges, multiple moves, and housing and food insecurity.”

The Irvine Prevention Coalition was formed in 1995 to bring together resources and services to support children, youth, and families. Today there are over 60 community partners participating in the coalition. Their mission is to support a safe and caring community by working together to provide prevention strategies and coordinated services designed to reduce substance abuse, violence and related problems among our youth.   Preventive strategies take many forms – education about drug and alcohol abuse, encouragement of healthy lifestyles, and giving young people the tools to be successful in school and life without drugs.

We are honored to be recognized for Operation School Bell. But we couldn’t provide everything we give the kids through OSB without the continued support of our thrift store shoppers and donors! Thank you!

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Good Night Mortgage!

Mortgage-Burning-Party

Recently ALI held a very, very special celebration in our Community Outreach Center upstairs from the thrift shop. Yes, shoppers and readers, we’ve done it! We’ve burned our mortgage!

Let’s go back in time a few years, and we’ll explain how we fulfilled this dream of every Irvine property owner. Many of you may remember our original thrift shop on Main Street, near John Wayne Airport. We had a vision of buying a property, where we would have room to host our Operation School Bell clients, provide additional resources to the community, and house our thrift shop. We started a Capital Campaign, and the City of Irvine helped by awarding us a Community Development Block Grant. And in July 2009, we were able to purchase our business condominium unit at 2452 Alton! We made a down payment and took out a 10-year mortgage with a balloon payment due in July, 2019 (typical for commercial real estate loans).

Our new location was an immediate success, and soon our thrift shop was bringing in enough money for us to expand our philanthropic programs AND have extra cash. Our far-sighted finance director, Penny Bolton, pointed out that if we made additional payments on our mortgage, we’d be able to pay off the loan earlier than 2019, plus saving a lot on interest.   A lower mortgage – or no mortgage – down the road would give us even more money to give back to the community. A win-win! Our “Free ALI” fund-raising campaign was born!

Janet Lisle (long-time member and past president of ALI) and her husband, Phil, made a generous donation of seed money, matched by donations from our members, to start off the “Free ALI” campaign. And with hard work from all our members, plus the continued support of OUR THRIFT SHOP CUSTOMERS, we chipped away at that mortgage balance. Then last summer, we received an amazing, if bittersweet, bequest from the estate of another long-time member, Hedy Mulhausen. Hedy’s gift enabled us to pay off the rest of the mortgage in full in September, 2013 – just four years after we took out the loan!

We didn’t ACTUALLY burn the mortgage last week, because that would have set off the fire alarm and the sprinklers – but we burned it in spirit! Many who have shared this journey with us, were there to help us celebrate this momentous occasion – Irvine Mayor Steven Choi, City Council Member Beth Krom, City Manager Sean Joyce, and Jerome Carrasco, Greg Smith, Fawn Tanriverdi, and Margie Wakeham from our Community Advisory Council.

So if you notice extra-wide smiles on the faces of the ALI members the next time you’re at the shop or one of our events, it’s because the mortgage is gone – and we’re SMILING all the way to the bank!

Many memories have been made at our shop – check out some pictures over the years:

 

 

 

Downton Abbey on a Shoestring

The new season of “Downton Abbey” on PBS has started.  According to USA Today, 10.2 million people watched the premiere. Media experts everywhere are pondering why Americans are so enthralled with this soap-opera saga of an aristocratic British family and their servants. 

We KNOW why everyone in Irvine is watching this show.  It’s lawn envy!

Just look at the gorgeous expanse of green lawn surrounding the manor.  Does the Earl of Grantham get an insert in his water bill every month asking him to “Replace your lawn with drought-resistant native plants?” No! Did the Earl of Grantham have to pay $300 to the sprinkler repairman to fix his sprinkler valves? No! In fact, the Earl of Grantham has never even seen a lawn sprinkler! Because at Downton Abbey, water falls miraculously from the sky! All the time!

The other reason is that we all have a fantasy of living in a place like Downton Abbey.  In spite of your zero-lot-line house with its two potted succulents on the patio, you too can create the Downton Abbey ambiance.  And you don’t need to be as rich as the Crawleys  – just visit the thrift shop, where you’ll find:

  • Silver.  We have beautiful silver trays and goblets, along with a silver butter dish and silver-trimmed bowls and coasters.
  • Crystal.  We have a Waterford bowl and a Waterford desk clock that would fit in perfectly at Downton, along with other crystal bowls and a decanter.
  • Glassware.  We have wine glasses, martini glasses, and champagne glasses.  Just what you need for that after-dinner sherry, or to help you keep a stiff upper lip in the face of life’s dramas.
  • Jewelry.  We have a fantastic selection of vintage-style costume jewelry.
  • Sweaters,  scarves, and gloves.  You can dress up in these and pretend you’re at Downton Abbey in the winter!
  • Picture frames.  We have lots of silver and gold-toned picture frames for your family portraits.
  • Needlework.  Although the times are changing at Downton, upper-class girls would still be expected to do needlework.  We have embroidery hoops, cross-stitch patterns, and a huge assortment of needlework books.
  • Stationery.  No one at Downton Abbey sends email.  They pour out their hopes and dreams in hand-written letters.  (Of course, they had cheaper postage back then.)

And if you just want to invite your friends over to watch the show, we have fondue pots, cake pans, and coffeepots to help you stay up until 10 pm.

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