You can change the world, 1 book at a time.

by Marta Mahoney, Assistance League of Irvine, Volunteer

You may find this hard to believe, but I haven’t been to the thrift shop for ONE WEEK. That’s because I’m in Washington, DC on vacation. Being in Washington is an amazing experience for someone like me who loves history. Seeing the White House, the Capitol, the monuments, and the museums really connects you to the past. You realize that even if you were an average office worker wandering around on your lunch hour, you could be walking in the footsteps of Washington or Lincoln.

One of the tours I’ve done is the walking tour of the Library of Congress. (It’s a beautiful building, and I highly recommend this tour if you go to Washington.) The Library of Congress was founded by Thomas Jefferson, who donated his personal library to start it. In those days there were no public libraries, and many people were illiterate. But our Founding Fathers believed in the power of reading and the need for a national library. Today the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with over 38 million books and 164 million total items!

This struck a chord with me because at ALI, we also believe strongly in the power of books. Every child in our Operation School Bell program receives a book to take home (along with school clothing and supplies). They choose a book from a selection of grade-appropriate fiction and non-fiction books. For some of these children, it’s the first time they’ve had a book of their own.

This is where you come in, readers! We’re currently holding a book drive to stock up on children’s books for OSB. You, too, can be like Thomas Jefferson and donate a book (or books!). You can drop off your book donation at the thrift shop during our regular hours. Any local bookstore will be able to suggest appropriate books for elementary, middle school, or high school students.

And who knows – some day the child who reads your donated book may become an author with a book in the Library of Congress

The rescue of Washington

Last week I made a trip to Washington, D.C. Forget Congressional confusion – let’s talk about wardrobe confusion. There I was with my suitcase, trying to decide what to pack – because, as we all know from watching “Scandal,” people in Washington do not dress like people in Los Angeles. My usual daily summer outfit (workout pants and my In-N-Out t-shirt) just wouldn’t cut it. And with humid, 90-degree weather predicted, my winter pants and sweaters would be too hot.

The thrift shop to the rescue! I found a pair of gray pants (suitable color for October in Washington!) that were dressy enough for the city but casual enough for travel, and would match lots of different-colored tops. These amazing pants were only $5.00 and were so versatile I was able to get by with just a carry-on bag – thus saving me the charge to check a bag each way. With THAT savings I was able to splurge on a dinner of Maryland crab cakes.

Lesson learned: no need to go to fancy travel catalogues for your travel wardrobe – just visit the ALI thrift shop!

Models, Washington fashion show, 1924