Via programs like Operation School Bell, which ensures local children have clothes on their back and shoes on their feet, and Wee Help, providing layettes for newborns born into poverty, Assistance League of Arizona has set out to improve the lives of Phoenix children since it was founded in 1961. Here, Aimee Runyon, CEO of Assistance League of Arizona, discusses the nonprofit’s goal for 2024 and how readers can help to achieve it.
What is the mission of the Assistance League of Arizona? Our mission is to improve the lives of children through philanthropic programs that fulfill basic needs, foster self-esteem and enhance the quality of life.
What prompted the start of the nonprofit? Assistance League of Phoenix is one of 120 chapters of National Assistance League and it was founded in 1961 in Phoenix by volunteers. After 50 years of being a volunteer-run organization, the Board recognized the need to bring on a paid executive to lead and grow the organization. In 2012, they hired their first CEO and, today, they have a staff of eight. Members and volunteers are still utilized on a regular basis.
What is the greatest reward in being involved with the Assistance League of Arizona? The opportunity to provide essential basic needs for the children that we serve is humbling. The staff and volunteers get to experience the smiles, hugs and gratitude from the children. I believe that the greatest reward is knowing that we are showing these children what generosity looks like. This year, we have a new board member who was served by Operation School Bell as a child. Now, as a successful young professional, he wants to give back to the community that gave to him. That is by far one of the greatest rewards I have had in my career.
What is the biggest challenge the nonprofit faces? Resources. We are always in need of volunteers. Volunteering with the Delivering Dreams Buses is such a rewarding experience. There are 140,000 children in the Greater Phoenix area that qualify for our program. In order to make a dent in that number, we need volunteers willing to donate a few hours of their time, and we need monetary donations. All tax credit donations are matched by BHHS Legacy Foundation, providing an opportunity for our donors to double their impact.
What are your goals for the new year? Our goal for the 2024/25 school year is to serve 15,000 clothing-insecure children. Prior to the pandemic, it was our goal to be serving this number by 2023. This year we will serve over 13,000. Again, none of this would be possible without the amazing work and dedication of our volunteers, staff and donors. It truly does take a village, and I am so proud of the village that we have built.
How can readers help, especially during the holiday season? Come and be a part of our village for these children. We have a variety of opportunities at our warehouse or thrift boutique in Central Phoenix. You can also host a book or hygiene drive at your schools, church or office and bring the donated items to us for our Delivering Dreams Bus.
Does the nonprofit have any events or fundraisers on the horizon? Yes, our annual gala “Celebration of Caring” is happening Saturday, April 6, 2024 at Chateau Luxe. You can learn more at www.alphx.org.