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!

 

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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:

 

 

 

We need your help! ONLY YOU can do this & make a difference!

mdday_color_logoVote for Assistance League – Make A Difference Day All-Star Award 2014!

Every year, USA Weekend Magazine and the Points of Light Foundation sponsor “Make A Difference Day,” a national day of service.  And to honor particularly compelling service projects, they’ve created a contest – the “Make A Difference Day All-Stars” contest for a $10,000 prize (awarded by the Gannett Foundation). You may not realize this, but Assistance League of Irvine is one of 120 Assistance League chapters across the nation.  And the National Assistance League organization has been chosen as one of the finalists for this prestigious award.  The winner will be selected by an on-line vote – so we need your votes to win! (More about how to vote, in a minute.)

We were selected because of our national 2013 Children’s Book Drive, in which 93 Assistance League chapters, including Assistance League of Irvine,  collected 103,000 books for children in schools, foster programs, and shelters.  That’s an average of 1,100 books per participating chapter!

We thank all of you who donated books to us for this book drive and helped make it such a success.  NOW we’re asking all of you to VOTE for us, to help National Assistance League win the All-Star prize!

You can vote for us at:   http://makeadifferenceday.com/vote-now.  Voting is open from now until March 4,  and is limited to ONE VOTE PER DAY.

As they used to say in the old days, vote early and often (i.e. daily).  Help Assistance League win the All-Star prize!

No Cuts Here!

It seems lately that whenever we turn on the news, we hear about aid to needy families being reduced.  Congress cuts the food stamp program; extended unemployment benefits are expiring; food pantries have to spread the same amount of food donations among an ever-increasing number of people.   But the help that ALI gives families is one area that’s NOT being cut.  In fact, the total amount we give needy families is going UP, not down.

Operation School Bell is ALI’s largest philanthropic program.  Through OSB, we give school clothing and school supplies to students in need, in the Irvine school district.  Each child receives a backpack, a set of notebooks and pencils, and a sum of money to purchase school clothing and shoes at Target in the Irvine Marketplace, our partner shopping store.

In 2012-13, we clothed 761 OSB kids.  We’re currently in the final stages of our 2013-14 program, and we’ve clothed 816 kids to date, That’s an increase of 55 students – or 7% – and these aren’t the final numbers.  And we’ve been able to do this WITHOUT  lowering the amount of money we allocate for each child.

This is largely due to our generous thrift store shoppers!  We are a completely volunteer organization with no paid staff, and ALL the money we raise from the thrift store goes to support OSB and our other programs in Irvine.

The fact that more families need to reach out to us for help in these tough times, is not a statistic to be proud of.  But we ARE proud of the fact that we’re able – thanks to our generous thrift store shoppers – to meet this growing demand.

YOUR THRIFT SHOP SALESPEOPLE

All the people you see at the Assistance League of Irvine thrift shop in the blue aprons are VOLUNTEERS.   Most of us had never worked in a store until we joined ALI.  But now we’re working at the best store in Irvine!

We love working at the thrift shop! Every shift is a new adventure.  We love welcoming our customers.  We love getting to know our regulars and helping our newbies discover our treasures.  We love connecting people with great bargains.  We love it when someone finds a replacement for the broken casserole lid.  We love it when a collector finds another silver bracelet or antique teacup.  We love showing teenage boys how to pick out a shirt and tie for their first dress-up occasion.  We love helping  you find the shoes, the scarf, or the purse that makes your outfit look like something out of the fashion pages.  And we love it when our customers tell us, “I’ll be back next week!”Image

So the next time you visit us, say hello to your ALI volunteers, because we LOVE to have you shopping with us!