Neighborhoods of color coordinated houses, lush parks, and manicured green lawns make up the perfect and polished city of Newport Beach. But not all parts of California are so gilded; the areas surrounding us are filled with families that cannot buy back-to-school supplies, or parents that struggle with substance abuse. The Assistance League and National Charity League expose students to these local crises, providing them with opportunities to contribute and help others.
“Assistance League has helped me see everything that is going on in our community because I think that people from Corona del Mar tend to see it from one side,” senior Chloe Goble said. “Going out into other parts of Orange County and Southern California and seeing people who are the same age as you struggle is really heartbreaking, and it’s a great experience to help them and rectify some of the problems that are often looked over.”
The Assistance League sponsors a program called Operation School Bell, which furnishes students with school supplies, a uniform, and books, to help them feel more comfortable and ready to be in a school setting.
“It’s eye opening to see how excited the kids get and to see what a big moment this is for them because it’s something that all of us might look at as an everyday thing,” Goble explained.
Before she joined the Assistance League, Goble was not aware of everything that was happening in the community, the good and the bad.
“I do think that my work at the Assistance League has made a difference,” she said. “I think that as a group we are helping to solve some pretty big issues.”
On the other side of Costa Mesa, National Charity League has their thrift shop and headquarters.
“What I love about National Charity League is that I get to do it with my Mom. It’s really nice to have time set aside to spend with her,” said Caroline Wood, a senior involved in National Charity League.
Both NCL and Assistance League encourage working with a parent in the thrift store or at meetings, which strengthens the bonds between mom and daughter.
“I love working at charities and doing hands on work because I get to see results. When I am working with kids and their expressions change, or they thank me afterwards, that’s when I really feel like I’m helping,” Wood said.
This year she is working with a charity called Second Step, which helps moms and children coming out of abusive relationships get back on their feet. They give families a transitional home until the mother can find a job or until the kids find a foster family.
Another program that both charities work with is Girls Inc., an afterschool program for elementary-school girls. This program provides girls with a safe place to play and do homework until their parents can pick them up. The girls at Assistance League went last year to help out on Fridays and throw the girls parties. NCL and Assistance League both do a great job of focusing on certain problems, and doing hands-on work to help fix them.
The Assistance League focuses on dental hygiene. Since orthodontists can be so expensive, some families choose not to spend money on braces and invest it on more urgent needs.
“At the Assistance League, almost all of the money made in the thrift store goes towards our Dental Center,” said Sierra Muelhauser, a senior at Corona del Mar and Assisteen Treasurer. The dental center provides a full range of dental and orthodontic care to over 2,500 kids annually, for discounted prices.
Whether the girls working realize it or not, they’re changing people’s lives. Sometimes all you need is a change of perspective to see how privileged you are, or to put your problems in perspective. Too often we do not realize how good we have it, and too often we forget to give back to our community. Organizations like the Assistance League and NCL that bring our population together and help raise awareness to what’s going on all around us.