Help Us Celebrate 25 Years!

FullSizeRender 25 years ago (way back in 1990), members of the Assistance League of Irvine had an idea. Many of these members were teachers or retired teachers, and they believed that the arts had a vital place in children’s lives. They knew, firsthand, that many children who might not be top students academically, blossomed when they were able to express their creativity. And they wanted a way to recognize these young artists and let them know their talents were special.

This was the start of ALI’s “Young Masters Art Show!” It’s a FREE family event that has grown over the past 25 years to include over 500 pieces of children’s art, hands-on craft activities for kids, refreshments, and entertainment by award-winning Irvine high school music groups. This year it will be held on SATURDAY MAY 2 in the Irvine Civic Center Plaza from 1 to 4 pm. It’s the ONLY event of its kind in all of Orange County!

Irvine Unified School District art specialist teachers have select one piece of art from every K – 6 classroom in the district to be showcased at Young Masters. It’s amazing to see the incredible creativity of these students – you just know many of them will have careers as professional artists.

This year our craft stations will include Clay Creations, decorating picture frames, painting mini-flower pots, and – a Selfie booth! Face painting and balloon creations will be back by popular demand.

The entertainment will feature the Irvine Elementary Honor Choir, the Irvine High Jazz Ensembles, and the Woodbridge High Percussion Ensemble (consistently ranked as one of the best high-school percussion groups in the nation). You’ll be amazed at how talented THESE kids are, too.

Join us on Saturday to help make our 25th Young Masters the best celebration of all! See you there!

The ‘Gogo Grandmothers’ Fashion Show is coming. Save the date!

ECD_OVC_GogosWe all watched the Oscars a couple of weeks ago and swooned over the fabulous gowns.  With every TV host telling us who’s wearing what designer, the fashion show is a big part of Oscar night.  Today we’re going to tell you about a DIFFERENT kind of fashion show.  Instead of glittering couture gowns, this one features some outfits from our ALI Thrift Shop! And it’s for a charity called “Gogo Grandmothers,” which raises funds for grandmothers in Malawi, Africa, who are supporting the millions of orphans left by the AIDS epidemic.  These courageous “Gogos” (an African word for “grandmother”) are subsistence farmers in rural villages, who are struggling to keep their families together and raise the next generation.  The charity provides help with food, fertilizer and seed, and school fees and uniforms so children can attend school.

Fashion shows have long been popular fund-raising events, and we were thrilled that this group chose to select clothing from our Thrift Shop.  It’s another example of how your donations to ALI go on to help others – in this case Gogos who live far away from Irvine, but share our same goals for our children.  By the way, the Gogo Grandmothers charity began here in Irvine in 2005 at Mariners Church, and now has spread throughout the world.  As  you might expect, most of the members are grandmothers themselves!

If you’d like to see how to put together fashionable, creative outfits without using a Hollywood stylist, plus support a good cause, the fashion show will be Saturday, March 14 from 2 pm to 4 pm at Mariner’s Church in Irvine.  There’s a $10 suggested donation.  All the fashions came from thrift shops, and the models will tell you where they found them! You can contact Suzie Hamilton at qsuzie@yahoo.com for more information.

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!)

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.

over 100 years of taking care + giving back

operation school bellEven if some shoppers aren’t ready to give up their sunglasses and flip-flops, retailers have already plunged into their second most important shopping season. The period from mid-July to mid-September generates 16.1 percent of retailers’ annual sales, compared to 28.1 percent for the Christmas and December holidays, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers in New York. Americans will collectively shell out $39 billion for back-to-school clothes, shoes, electronics, books and other supplies, about 3 percent more than last year.

What happens to the kids in need who do not have the opportunity to participate in a back-to-school shopping spree? This is where Operation School Bell comes in. Nearly fifty years ago as a one-woman effort to provide clothing to disadvantaged children; it is now the signature national philanthropic program for Assistance League. Operation School Bell has provided new clothing, including jackets and shoes, to over one million school children nationwide. How is this possible? Volunteers!! Fitting each child and helping them select clothing; for many children these are the first clothes that belong solely to them.

This philanthropy doesn’t stop there, The national Operation School Bell Award is given to honor those who, through significant financial, in-kind service, hands-on or spiritual support, have had a direct, powerful and positive effect on Operation School Bell in a chapter’s community and thus warrant recognition from the national organization. The 2009 recipient was Irvine Kohl’s Store 598.

For more information on Operation School Bell, please visit: http://irvine.assistanceleague.org