Conceived by a gathering of seven women in October of 1989 at The Riverhouse in Bend, the foundation for Assistance League of Bend was laid. Formed first as a Guild of Assistance League, a series of requirements, including tax exempt, non-profit status, needed to be met. Having met the needed requirements, Assistance League of Bend was officially chartered on October 5, 1993 and became the 92nd chapter of Assistance League.
The present chapter house, located in Southeast Bend, was purchased in the spring of 1993 through a generous down payment loan made by seven members and a mortgage provided by Bank of the Cascades. Originally housing a thrift shop called Cottage Collectibles; multiple renovations to the property have since been made. In 2001 the house was converted to a safe and attractive home for Operation School Bell®, the flagship philanthropy of Assistance League. This remodel was made possible by a $10,000 grant and was completed in 2002. Again, in 2006-2007, a major expansion of the house was accomplished increasing its size to include an office, a sewing room, two large rooms for Operation School Bell, two dressing areas, another restroom and a storage area.
Operation School Bell started in 1991 as the principle Assistance League of Bend philanthropy. This program initially provided clothing to middle schoolchildren; it has evolved over the years to include K-12 grades. Operation School Bell addresses basic clothing needs for low-income, at-risk children in Central Oregon. In 1994, 36 disadvantaged children were clothed. The program has grown significantly every year, reaching 1300 schoolchildren in the 2010-2011 school year. During the school year of 2009-2010, Operation School Bell received a major procedural change. The dressing of children was moved from the chapter house to a local retail store. This change proved to be both effective and beneficial.
Numerous philanthropic programs were adopted over the years. In 2006-2007 these philanthropies were realigned to better serve the Bend community. Today, Assistance League of Bend’s active philanthropic children’s programs include: Operation School Bell; These Kids are Cookin’; Be There, Be Square and Breakfast with Santa. The adult programs include Senior Caring and Secret Santa. Hats, Hats, Hats, a program serving both adults and children, has experienced tremendous growth. Stylish, member crafted headwear is designed to serve the many needs of cancer patients. This important program serves both adults and children.
Assistance League of Bend supports its philanthropic programs through a variety of fundraising activities with the major activities being Gala of Trees, Kitchen Kaleidoscope and Speaker’s Forum. Additional funds are raised through direct mail campaigns, grant writing and contributions to the Remembrance Fund. Members of Assistance League of Bend also lend their organizational expertise to a number of revenue producing community events.