Local News

Assistance League to Celebrate 80 Years of Service

Next year, the Assistance League of Fullerton, one of the town’s longest-running philanthropic organizations, will celebrate 80 years of service to the community.

The Fullerton Auxiliary of the Assistance League of Orange County was organized in 1940 by Mrs. Kraemer of Placentia. In those early days, The League was active with the Red Cross during World War II, making surgical dressings, layettes, knitted articles, and aided the USO. The League extended its aid to veterans at the end of the war.

The Assistance League has been serving the community since 1940.

The role of the Assistance League has changed over the years to meet different community needs.

By 1949 there were 30 active members and 22 sustaining members. The Fullerton Chapter received its official charter in 1950, though the group had been active for ten years.

Originally housed in an old episcopal church on Amerige, the Assistance League now has its own buildings across the street from the police station, including the popular Thrift Shop (formerly called “The Bargain Box”), which is their main source of raising funds.

Inside the Assistance League Thrift Store (formerly called “The Bargain Box”)

Today, the Assistance League’s work has expanded to serve the north Orange County cities of Brea, Buena Park, Fullerton, La Habra, Placentia, and Yorba Linda. Their philanthropic endeavors include Operation School Bell, which annually provides $114,000 in new school clothing to elementary through junior high age students in need in 8 area school districts; Vision Screening, financing eye glasses when needed for local school children from 20 area schools; and Operation New Start, providing adults and their children who have left abusive environments with clothing and domestic items via referral by Women’s Transitional Living Center (WTLC).

The Assistance League consists of Chapter Members (who volunteer to staff the Thrift Store and other events), Assisteens (high school youth), and ALPHA (Working professionals whose main fundraiser is the Day of Authors).

A local student receives clothing through Operation School Bell.

“It’s like a sisterhood,” says member Michelle Amador, “When one of us stumbles, everybody’s right there…we can touch so many lives. And we touch each others’ lives.”    

“The Assistance League is an organization in which you do things for others with people you like,” says member Marylin Buchi.

Long time member Pat Finley remembers receiving a phone call from a grandmother who said her granddaughter was in the hospital and she had nothing to give her for Christmas.

“We had had a Barbie doll with all kind of accessories donated that day. Marilyn went out and bought wrapping paper. The grandmother came and picked it up and couldn’t have been more grateful. She wrote me a note. She said if there were ever angels on earth, you ladies are it,” remembers Finley.

“There are people who work multiple days a week in the back room, sorting clothes and putting items out, and to my way of thinking, those are the angels,” says Buchi.

Member Phylis Niccolai remembers a young woman saying to her, “You gave my mother a scholarship and helped get her on her feet. And because you impacted her life, you impacted my life. And so that’s why I shop here.”

“There are so many stories like that,” said Niccolai, “There’s a purpose. It’s not for self-aggrandizement. It’s to help people.”

Some of the Assistance League’s longest-serving members, along with a few newer members.

In addition to donating clothes and shopping at the Thrift Store, community members can support the Assistance League by shopping at their annual Christmas Boutique Fundraiser November 13-15, featuring thousands of unique holiday items.

The Assistance League Thrift Store is located at 233 W. America Ave. Fullerton.

To learn more about their work and how you can contribute, visit www.assistanceleague.org/fullerton.