Assistance League of the Eastside volunteers raise more than $400,000 annually for Operation School Bell, which lets 3,500 local children select new back-to-school apparel at Fred Meyer shopping events.

Assistance League of the Eastside volunteers raise more than $400,000 annually for Operation School Bell, which lets 3,500 local children select new back-to-school apparel at Fred Meyer shopping events.

Vital volunteer-run programs serve the Eastside’s most vulnerable

Dine, dance and enjoy an Evening in the Tropics March 16 in support of four local programs

Offering both practical essentials and messages of support to local children in need, victims of assault, survivors of domestic abuse and the homeless, a group of Eastside volunteers quietly works to bring comfort and hope to these often unseen populations.

An all-volunteer non-profit serving the Eastside community through its philanthropic programs since 1997, the Assistance League of the Eastside is one of 120 chapters in the National Assistance League. Today, the Eastside chapter’s 159 members provide four vital programs to vulnerable local residents.

“Giving back to the community is what we do,” explains president Marlene Vacknitz. “A lot of people feel there’s not a lot of need on the Eastside but there is, it’s just hidden.”

Donors and volunteers alike appreciate that close to 85 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to local people in need, says president-elect Mahrukh Motafram. “We’re very proud of that!

Assistance League focuses on 4 philanthropic programs

  1. Operation School Bell: A signature program of Assistance League, Eastside volunteers raise more than $400,000 annually to serve some 3,500 students. Volunteers work with guidance counselors at Bellevue, Lake Washington and Northshore School Districts to host annual shopping events at Fred Meyer, where elementary students pick out $100 in new clothing, and middle and high school students select up to $150 of back-to-school apparel.

    When kids don’t have to worry about fitting in, they are more successful. Guidance counselors report that 60 per cent of the students show increased confidence, get along well with their peers and in turn get better grades.

    “All of our programs are very important but with Operation School Bell we get to see the impact first-hand,” Motafram says. “You see how our donors and volunteers have made such a difference in the life of a child, for something as simple as a new pair of shoes.”

  2. Assault Survivor Kits: These kits are designed to help children, women and men who are survivors of assault. Because clothing is typically kept by police as evidence when someone is assaulted, survivors can be left with nothing to wear. Kits include sweat pants and top plus a hygiene kit with pre-pasted toothbrush, shampoo, body wash and hairbrush/comb. Serving 41 hospitals across Washington State, Assistance League of the Eastside members drive as far as Spokane to deliver kits to hospitals.

  3. Starting Over Support: Partnering with LifeWire, Dawn and New Beginnings organizations to support domestic violence survivors, volunteers provide food and backpacks filled with basic items for people placed in hotels, and baskets of essentials for families entering the shelter. “When someone leaves an abusive situation, they typically have only what they can carry, so we provide them with something new and a few necessities. Something as simple as a fresh new towel can have such an impact,” Vacknitz says.
  4. Help4Homeless: Partnering with The Sophia Way in Bellevue, Acres of Diamonds in Duvall, and The New Bethlehem Project in Kirkland, Help4Homeless provides welcome baskets filled with more than 30 basic need items and an encouragement card to individuals entering local shelters. “We work directly with the shelters so we can respond to what their needs are,” Vacknitz says.

How you can help: An Evening in the Tropics and more!

The Assistance League of the Eastside hosts special events through the year to support its programs, including the Holiday Home Tour in December and this spring’s Evening in the Tropics, welcoming the community for dinner, dancing and philanthropy at the Snoqualmie Casino Ballroom March 16. Come enjoy dinner, dancing to music by The Herding Cats and the opportunity to “Raise the Paddle” to help individuals and families in need.

Tickets are $85 and available online. Can’t attend? Donate directly online!

Sponsorships and grants are always welcome, as are individual donations. Learn more at aleastside.org. “People are always welcome to come check out our monthly meetings too!” Vacknitz says.




In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@kirklandreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kirklandreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

Assistance League of the Eastside’s Operation School Bell program makes a real difference in the lives of local children.

Assistance League of the Eastside’s Operation School Bell program makes a real difference in the lives of local children.

Assistance League of the Eastside’s Help4Homeless program provides welcome baskets filled with more than 30 basic need items and an encouragement card to individuals entering local shelters.

Assistance League of the Eastside’s Help4Homeless program provides welcome baskets filled with more than 30 basic need items and an encouragement card to individuals entering local shelters.

Assault Survivor Kits, packaged and delivered to local hospitals by Assistance League of the Eastside’s volunteers, include sweat pants and top plus a hygiene kit with pre-pasted toothbrush, shampoo, body wash and hairbrush/comb. After an assault, clothes are often taken in evidence, leaving victims with nothing to wear.

Assault Survivor Kits, packaged and delivered to local hospitals by Assistance League of the Eastside’s volunteers, include sweat pants and top plus a hygiene kit with pre-pasted toothbrush, shampoo, body wash and hairbrush/comb. After an assault, clothes are often taken in evidence, leaving victims with nothing to wear.

Assault Survivor Kits, packaged and delivered to local hospitals by Assistance League of the Eastside’s volunteers, include sweat pants and top plus a hygiene kit with pre-pasted toothbrush, shampoo, body wash and hairbrush/comb. After an assault, clothes are often taken in evidence, leaving victims with nothing to wear.

More in Marketplace

United Way seeks support for King County residents during COVID-19

Because of the current pandemic and economic fallout, the needs of the… Continue reading

Zsofia Pasztor, founder of Woodinville-based non-profit Farmer Frog, is a certified horticulturist, arborist and landscape designer who helps build community and family gardens, starting from a foundation of Cedar Grove soil and compost.
Family gardening can be fun and fruitful!

Cedar Grove soils can help you get the most out of your home planting season

Find beauty right in your garden this spring!

With contactless delivery options, Cedar Grove helps you get in your garden this spring

While people may be staying closer to home right now, nutritious and delicious meals are as close as Gourmet Meals to Go, delivered right to your door.
5 simple steps gets custom, restaurant-quality cuisine to your door!

We might not be dining out much right now, but that doesn’t… Continue reading

Future looks bright for popular Redmond cannabis shop

Hashtag Cannabis preparing for move to large new site in downtown Redmond, café to be added

A little bit of Italy in downtown Redmond!

Salvatore and Valentina Lembo bring a passion for authentic cuisine to new family-friendly eatery

Bail agents Taylor Nakamura, left, and Cherokee Pierce, who run All City Bail Bonds’ Sixth Avenue location in Seattle, work closely with families to help them navigate the court system and secure access to community resources.
Human factor personalizes the bail system

All City Bail Bonds agents support clients and their families to make positive change

Chef Murray Fields recently opened his state-of-the-art kitchen in Tukwila as the heart of his Gourmet Meals to Go.
Gourmet to Go can be this good!

Chef makes it simple to enjoy restaurant-quality cuisine at home or office

“I wish I’d found you years ago!”

Giving chronic migraine sufferers hope at Bothell clinic

5 reasons to get excited about what’s coming to the heart of Redmond

The amenities at the brand-new Hilton Garden Inn will appeal to locals and visitors alike

Excitement is building for Redmond’s coming sip and savour destination!

Hilton Garden Inn’s Fork and Spoke will be your downtown food-and-beverage hub

Airport Winter Weather 101

When the weather outside is frightful … and you’re worried your trip… Continue reading