Assistance League of Northern Virginia is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that strives to transform the lives of children through community programs. Our programs focus on providing food and clothing and other necessities to children, and educating them through one-on-one tutoring and the donation of new books. During the 2018-19 school year, we helped more than 8,000 children at 11 Title 1 elementary schools in Prince William and Fairfax Counties and the City of Alexandria, in Virginia, as well as children and new mothers at a local clinic. In 2019-20, we helped more than7,600 children and their families before schools closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Through our WEEKEND FOOD FOR KIDS program, we provide nonperishable food to children who receive meals at school during the week but have insufficient food on weekends. During the 2018-19 school year, Assistance League delivered nearly 18,000 bags of food to hungry children in 6 elementary schools and this year we provided 11,300 bags before schools closed.
After schools closed, we purchased grocery gift cards instead and provided cards, valued at $20 each, to help needy families. We have provided 400 such cards every month through October. We hope to continue card purchases until we can resume our monthly food packing and deliver food bags to students. Even before the pandemic, the needs were much greater than our small chapter could satisfy and now the needs have intensified while our usual means of raising funds have been curtailed. We ask for your support so that we can continue to assist food-insecure families, and possibly expand this important program.
During the 2018-19 school year, through our NEW CLOTHING FOR KIDS program, we provided children with 973 new items of clothing and 418 pairs of shoes, and distributed 227 toiletry kits and 1400 haircut coupons. To new mothers at a local clinic, we furnished 645 layette bundles, that included hand-made baby blankets, hats, clothing and books, During this past school year, we provided 772 items of clothing and 350 pairs of shoes before schools closed. New clothing gives children a sense of normalcy and fitting in that they might not otherwise have, which can foster better self-esteem and school attendance, and improve educational success. Students are more likely to participate in school activities, especially playing outdoors at recess, if they have shoes that fit and proper outerwear.
We receive reports from teachers and counselors about children's reactions to our donations. In one report, a child feared his new clothes would be taken away, because he'd never had clothes that had tags on them; while other children leave the tags on to show they are brand new. One teacher reminded us how a simple gesture can make a huge difference in a child's life when she reported on our donation of school uniforms to that school. A student, whose family had recently immigrated her and was struggling financially, had only 2 outfits for school. The teacher reported that when she gave the child new uniforms, the child: could not stop smiling from ear to ear, and although she has very little English skills, she said "thank you" over and over again. Whenever I see her, she is wearing her uniform with pride!
With our LITERACY FOR KIDS program we have developed a two-track approach to promote literacy that includes individualized tutoring of first graders and book donations. We provide weekly one-on-one tutoring to students at risk for falling behind, including individual exercises to improve reading skills and vocabulary. We started at 1 school in 2004, and added a second school in 2018, where we provide more general read-aloud tutoring. During the 2019-20 school year, our members helped 110 first graders improve their reading skills. .
We also enhanced our book-donation efforts and hold book fairs at a school so EVERY student can select a new book to take home. At a book fair in early 2019, we gave out books to over 800 students. We held two book fairs in the 2019-20 school year and provided 1230 books to each student at the 2 schools. Many students received a new book for the first time. Also, we supplied new books as part of our summer reading program, and donated about 1200 new books to students at 3 other schools, when schools and libraries were closed.
Through our HUGS PILLOW program, we help comfort children at a local clinic in Falls Church, that serves low-income families. Last year, we provided 873 heart-shaped pillows with pockets filled with such items as stuffed animals, toys, crayons and activity books, This year, we delivered 792 pillows, for a total of more than 11,000 since 1999.
Assistance League is highly rated by GuideStar and GreatNonprofits.
We could not carry out our mission without the generous support of donors like you. We are thankful for your support and hope we can rely on your continued generosity, especially in today's economic conditions!