You can’t underestimate the power of a warm coat and comfortable pair of socks – true whether you’re a new immigrant fleeing a war-torn country, or a youngster staying warm on the way to school.
It’s a truth at the heart of one of Everett’s long-standing community service organizations, that’s been changing lives since 1965.
Assistance League of Everett® is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization whose member volunteers are dedicated to ongoing support and a long-term presence in their community through hands-on involvement and innovative philanthropic programs.
In January, they started a new outreach program, partnering with Refugee and Immigrant Services Northwest, who over the last year has assisted thousands of Afghan and Ukrainian refugees.
Since one of the greatest needs of newly arrived immigrants is warm clothing and blankets, the Assistance League worked to secure 200 winter coats, 1,000 pairs of socks and 300 blankets from the Silver Lake Costco.
“The management and staff at Costco were truly amazing,” says Assistance League President, Doreen Boy. “They helped us shop, packaged everything up, and even delivered it all to Refugee and Immigrant Services in their own vehicles – we can’t thank them enough!”
In addition to the new program, Assistance League serves the Snohomish County community with many other outreach efforts, including their primary program, Operation School Bell®.
Since 1965, Operation School Bell® has provided students primarily in preschool, elementary and middle school with new clothing.
“Over the last 57 years we’ve clothed more than 110,000 kids throughout Snohomish County,” Boy says. “Each child receives three full outfits, plus a winter coat, hat, hoody, scarf, gloves and shoes as well as a grooming kit and a book. We have part of our building set up like a real store, and prior to COVID students would come and try on clothes with the help of our volunteers.”
However, with COVID restrictions in place, they used a ‘Bag & Tag’ system to deliver clothing to the schools. They’re now working with a hybrid model, with schools either bringing students back to the building, or having them delivered.
“We’re hoping more schools will choose to bring the students to us next year, to have this fun shopping experience,” Boy says.
Operation School Bell’s Teen Retail program also partners with local Fred Meyer stores to provide qualified high school students with vouchers to shop for school clothing and supplies totalling $140. During the 2021 – 2022 year, 800 teens benefitted from this shopping experience.
“This has been a very successful program for us,” Boy says. “We’ve been able to help clothe almost 4,000 kids in the last year. We also reward deserving high school graduates – last year we gave 184 students a $250 graduation award, and gave out 11, $3,000 scholarships for Everett Community College.”
Assistance League of Everett® has been recognized for these programs and the many others they offer to the community, including winning the Everett Daily Herald’s Readers’ Choice Award for the Best Second Hand Store in 2021 and 2022.
“We’re doing a lot of impactful things for the community, but as an all-volunteer organization we really count on contributions from the community and their support of our Thrift Shop to make it all happen!” Boy says.