Assistance League of Charlotte Supports At-Risk Students and Adults

The Assistance League of Charlotte (ALC) is a nonprofit volunteer-run organization dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk children and families through community-based philanthropic programs. Their programs address upward mobility by providing food through mobile pantries and weekend backpacks, new school clothing, books and scholarships. In the most recent fiscal year, 176 members and 144 nonmembers together volunteered more than 54,000 hours of community service.

The nonprofit relocated to a new location at 5426 Old Pineville Road in Charlotte in mid-September. Likened to a mini department store, the new location provides a customized home for ALC and includes ample space for the thrift shop, philanthropic programs and multiple meeting rooms.

“Through our philanthropic programs we are providing the basic tools to help bridge the gap of economic challenges faced by families through healthy food options, new school clothing, and age-appropriate books,” said ALC president, Ann Davis. “These can enhance a child’s self-esteem and help them get on the path to doing better in school. I joined Assistance League to help address the needs of young school-age children to help them realize their dreams and potential. I am proud to work with our member volunteers to address these basic needs in our community.”

Devonshire Elementary school social worker, Terrelle McCain, said this about the ALC Book Program: “Our kindergarten students were excited about picking out new books. One of our students expressed, “These books are for us?!” Intimate moments like these show the wonderful needs that are being met,” said Devonshire Elementary school social worker, Terrelle McCain.

Assistance League Thrift Shop

The organization’s thrift shop, is open to the public on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m. –  4 p.m. Shoppers can find bargains in gently used items such as furniture, décor, clothing, books, kitchenware and more.  

Proceeds from the volunteer-run shop help fund Assistance League’s philanthropic programs like Operation School Bell®, Operation Check Hunger, and Mecklenburg County Teen Court. ALC accepts new and gently used items at the 5426 Old Pineville Road location on Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. The organization requests that donations are clean and in good condition.

Operation School Bell

Operation School Bell is Assistance League’s signature program and provides new uniforms, shoes, jackets and hygiene supplies for children in high-poverty Charlotte Mecklenburg (CMS) elementary schools. CMS counselors and social workers identify the specific needs of students with hopes to enhance self-esteem, promote learning and encourage regular school attendance. The Assistance League provided 9,462 children with new clothing and other necessities during the last school year.

“We have many families with 4-5 siblings at our school, so parents struggle to purchase multiple uniforms for each child and therefore are very appreciative in receiving support with uniforms, and especially coats in the winter,” said Highland Renaissance Academy’s Community in Schools Coordinator, Lazetta Lutrillo.

Operation Check Hunger

Operation Check Hunger is designed to alleviate hunger and provide proper nutrition for at-risk children in CMS. Support includes providing backpacks filled with food for at-risk children and operating mobile food pantries throughout the community. In 2021-2022, these initiatives provided 400 elementary school children with weekend backpacks containing enough food for a family of four and funded and staffed 13 mobile pantries serving 6,930 individuals.

Mecklenburg County Teen Court

Mecklenburg County Teen Court, an ALC-sponsored program, providesan alternative justice system for 12 to 17-year-old youth. The program provides juveniles with no prior convictions a second chance if they take accountability and agree to be tried by a jury of their peers. Successful completion of the program allows the youth to avoid having a permanent criminal record. The teen court places a strong emphasis on accountability, positive peer influence and youth empowerment to effect change. In the most recent fiscal year, 56 defendants successfully closed their cases with 52 cases currently active.

Assistance League of Charlotte Scholarship Fund

The ALC Scholarship Fund awards scholarships to graduating CMS high school seniors and previous ALC Scholarship recipients for their continuing education. The scholarships are based on community service, academic performance and financial needs. They also assist with funding culinary, recreational and arts education programs with groups such as the YMCA, Arts Plus and the Community Culinary School of Charlotte.

In 2021-2022, the Scholarship Fund awarded 13 scholarships amounting to $78,100 and more than $612,700 has been awarded since the program started in 2002. To apply, students can access the application through the ALC website and must be attending an in-state public university. The application typically opens in December and the deadline is in March for the upcoming fall term.