PHOTO10 3DR.SEUSSSIGN Dr. Mary Hairston Assistant Director Dr. Gwendolyn Digss VP Ruth Ellen Barr Dawn Thomas Theresa Coons.JPG

Pictured from left, Dr. Mary Hairston, Assistant Director, Urban League, Head Start/Early Head Start; Dr. Gwendolyn Diggs, Vice President, Urban League Head Start/Early Head Start; Assistance League of St. Louis members Ruth Ellen Barr; ALSTL President Dawn Thomas; and Theresa Coons joined volunteer puppeteers plus other colorful, costumed book characters portrayed by Assistance League members to share their love for reading with 69 young children at the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis’ Head Start/Early Head Start in Jennings, MO.

PHOTO10 30Pam Bogosian Clarkson Valley plays Pete the Cat.JPGOn Friday, October 30, Assistance League’s 16 volunteer members in the costumes of children’s book characters paraded before the center’s infants, toddlers and preschoolers after the children enjoyed videotaped book readings and a puppet show--- also created by Assistance League. Each child then received two age-appropriate books while meeting and posing for photos with puppets and favorite characters. In addition, 10 new story books were added to the teachers' collections at the center. In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, Assistance League's literacy program Books From Friends conducted multiple book festivals in elementary schools across St. Louis and provided over 13,000 books to aspiring readers.

Assistance League of St. Louis cares deeply about the health and safety of everyone we help and all of our 500-plus volunteers. While we have operated since the beginning of the pandemic with limitations as dictated by conditions and local regulations, we have found ways to continue safely responding to community needs through our various philanthropic programs. Consider the following examples:

OSB with Kris Lewis good pic.JPG• In fiscal 2019-2020, we served 6,690 elementary school students in 37 schools-- fitting and providing uniforms and 22 total clothing and hygiene items – plus age-appropriate books. Through this program, we have established 21closets in Saint Louis Public Schools, where most instruction is fully online. We continue to provide year-round clothing, shoes, coats and other necessities. During Covid-19, we have filled closets to Saint Louis Public School instructional support centers where students are present. This fall, we opened three more closets—one in St. Louis city schools and two in Jennings School District, where children are learning in-person and wearing uniforms. We are also supplying districts with dental kits, socks and other necessities.

• In the last year, we visited 39 schools in 7 school districts to fit and deliver shoes and socks to 3,741 school children. Now we are providing vouchers to families so that they can purchase shoes for their children. Approximately 2,300 vouchers went out this fall to 27 schools to be sent to the homes of deserving students. In addition,16,000 socks went to Saint Louis Public Schools to give to students.

• Our volunteers purchase, package and deliver gift bags with clothing and personal care items to 6 area crisis shelters and agencies and to sexual assault survivors. In 2019-2020, we served 1,777 women and children in shelters. That work is socially distanced and continues unchanged.

Outreach bedding 240x180Assistance League of St. Louis has a long history of collaboration with social workers in schools and agencies throughout our community. These tireless workers share countless, painful stories with us about unmet critical, basic needs experienced by so many of our fellow citizens. Through our programs, we fulfill many of these needs. 

-We helped a single mother of six who lost her job due to COVID-19 and needed help to set up her new home. We stepped in and provided not only beds and a kitchen table and chairs but genuine hope for better days ahead.

-We helped a family of five who lost everything in a fire and was sleeping on the floor. Assistance League provided beds, bedding, new clothes and dignity.

-Sometimes the needs are as simple as an alarm clock to help the family get to work and school on time, when they are struggling just to put breakfast on the table.

Assistance League strives to provide quick, compassionate solutions for the requests we receive. Unfortunately we can't answer every need. So, we are introducing an exciting and easy new way for you to help.

SHOP OUR AMAZON WISH LIST!  amazonlogo

Here's how:  At the top of this screen, click on GET INVOLVED.  When you do, SHOP OUR AMAZON WISH LIST will drop down. Click on that and you will find a large variety of items to assist our programs in answering special wishes and urgent needs. We invite you to check out the list...it will be updated as needs arise and offers a range of prices.

Answering these needs and fulfilling these wishes make you an invaluable partner with Assistance League of St. Louis. Together, we will continue to make a difference in the lives of so many families and students in our great community.

urban league august 1 2020 dawn thomas and jane Harbron with children and books croppedAssistance League of St. Louis President Dawn Thomas (left) and Past President Jane Harbron showed off books they were giving away to three children who attend the Urban League’s early childhood learning program and who were with their mother at the Urban League’s Urban Expo Back to School and Community Empowerment Festival.

The ALSTL leaders and 20 ALSTL Books From Friends volunteers spent August 1 in North St. Louis distributing 4,000 age-appropriate books to aspiring readers at this annual event, which attracts thousands each year. This year lines of vehicles came through a gauntlet of volunteers who distributed books, clothing, school supplies, personal protective equipment, toiletries and food.

Volunteers speedily placed everything in trunks and back seats of vehicles. “This collaboration with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis and the Saint Louis Public Schools provided a great opportunity to help many more children in one day than we could possibly do safely at this time of COVID-19 with our in-school book festivals and other events,” said Dawn Thomas.

cropped group shot of volunteers at urban league expo august 1 2020

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Assistance League of St. Louis has named Dawn Thomas president for 2020-2021. In 2016, after a brief career as an attorney in West County and decades volunteering at her children’s schools, for community organizations, and on non-profit boards, Dawn joined Assistance League of St. Louis.

Dawn has assumed several Assistance League leadership positions in recent years, including Vice Chair of Outreach, Chair of Corporate and Foundation Support and as a Grant Writer. As President-Elect in 2019-2020, Dawn played a key role in supporting the launch of Assistance League’s Advisory Council. This group of six influential business leaders in St. Louis meet quarterly to advise and educate the Board on emerging trends in the community.

Dawn worked with the Assistance League board to establish a new program in 2020—Books from Friends, which provides thousands

 

of students in the region books through interactive book fairs and other activities. The program’s goal is to distribute 12,000 books to area students in the coming fiscal year. In collaboration with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Books from Friends will distribute over 3,000 books this summer at a back-to-school expo. As a champion of this and other Assistance League initiatives, Thomas, in 2019, recorded over 1,200 hours of volunteer service.

“Dawn’s forward-thinking and hard work led to her election as president,” said outgoing President Jane Harbron. “Her strategic planning abilities, strong commitment and excellent people skills will help our organization continue to move forward in these unusual times to serve the many needs of the people of the St. Louis region.” Dawn is a resident of Town and Country, Missouri.

 

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Ahhh...summer is here at last!  And we are open and looking forward to seeing you!  Our smiling volunteers would love to show you all the ways to summerize your wardrobe and home! 

Rest assured that we are following the St. Louis County Health Department Guidelines for retail stores, and we will adjust them as they change. Please note the following measures which will be in place for the foreseeable future:

* Everyone entering Fantastic Finds must wear a mask.
* Social distancing will be observed.
* We will accept credit card and check payment only.
* Please do not bring children 12 years old or younger into the shop. 

SweaterIf you have weaned and cleaned out your closets during your stay-at-home time, we're ready for you!  Our temporary Donation Center is right next door to Fantastic Finds in the space that used to be Bentley's Pet Stuff.  See the current hours for the Donation Center and the Shop.

West County Barnes & Noble Book Fair by Phone

kids readingAssistance League of St. Louis members partnered with West County Barnes & Noble the weekend of May 1-3 for a first-time Book Fair by phone. Over the three days of the fair, ALSTL members called in to West County B&N, where their knowledgeable staff of "personal shoppers" helped members select age- and grade-appropriate books for school children. Staff provided callers with an appropriate book list recommended by educators. Books were selected from the list or members could purchase gift cards instead. Members selected 225 books and purchased $2,400 in gift cards for a total of 1,000 new books for the St. Louis Urban League's Back-to-School Expo.

After the book fair, Barnes & Noble staff sorted all the books by grade level, affixed an ALSTL label to each one and sanitized the books and shipping boxes. B&N will send the boxes to a designated location for the Urban League's Expo.

ALSTL is very proud to have a long-standing community partnership with West County Barnes & Noble. For several years, West County B&N has invited ALSTL to hold a very successful in-store Holiday Book Fair and Book Drive. These fairs have enabled ALSTL to donate thousands of books to our community's most deserving children and young adults. We are very appreciative of this additional unique and generous Book Fair by phone during the coronavirus pandemic.

JH Packing Hygiene kitsAssistance League of St. Louis cares deeply about the health and safety of everyone we help and all of our 500-plus volunteers who provide a range of services to thousands of St. Louisans. While we have suspended most of the activities of our philanthropic programs over the past several weeks, we have safely responded to urgent needs through small groups. For example, volunteers packed 100 hygiene kits (pictured left) requested by the Saint Louis Public Schools Students in Transition Program serving homeless children. They also organized and boxed books for the Urban League of St. Louis to distribute to children through their meal program, and answered an urgent need for clothing for sexual assault victims in shelters. 

We are closely monitoring the region’s incidence of coronavirus (COVID-19) and checking with local and state health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for advice and updates. We also continue to be in touch with the leaders of agencies, shelters and school districts we serve to determine how we can help others while protecting the safety and health of all involved.

As local, state and county officials move toward allowing resumption of activities, we will post updates on this site. In the meantime, Assistance League of St. Louis Headquarters and its Fantastic Finds Resale Shop remain closed. Know that we are thinking of everyone across our region, state and nation at this difficult time.

 Assistance League of St. Louis has temporarily closed its Headquarters and its Fantastic Finds Resale Shop due to the Coronavirus. All of our philanthropic programs and fundraisers have been temporarily suspended. We are under the County Executive’s directive and will not be able to open up until after April 23. We will continue to evaluate the situation and keep all informed as decisions are made. Assistance League of St. Louis is committed to the safety and health of the communities we serve. We are thinking of everyone at this trying time.

Norma Jean Pew and Mary CalcaterraOne of eight children from an Illinois farm family, this bundle of energy has lived in three states and traveled the world, but at 93, she is still primarily focused on doing good deeds.

A woman with a career until she was 86, Norma Jean Pew (pictured left) is an official Creve Coeur-Olivette Chamber of Commerce Assistance League of St. Louis "pal” working closely with ALSTL’s own Mary Calcaterra (pictured right). Through the Public Relations Committee, Mary is focused on community outreach, attending myriad service club meetings to find partners and donors who will support ALSTL’s nine philanthropic programs.

When Mary joined the Creve Coeur-Olivette Chamber, Norma had been an active member there for seven years. The two are part of a chamber networking group. However, Norma, as a chamber ambassador who helps onboard and mentor new members, also serves as Mary’s ambassador. Norma works the room before each meeting to find likely contributors who need to hear about ALSTL.

Norma also has tapped her own contacts to solicit gifts for ALSTL. In December alone, she secured two large trash bags of new children’s socks and 20 new toys for distribution to deserving children by turning to a firm called OsteoStrong-St. Louis and its owners, Johnny and Laura Harper. Norma knew the Harpers because she goes to OsteoStrong in Creve Coeur to strengthen her bones. The Harpers agreed to reach out to hundreds of their clients for contributions. The result? Hundreds of socks—plus toys for ALSTL.