The Assistance League of Montgomery County formed in 1985, and after wearing many hats and names, it has grown to include 200 members, eight programs and an upscale thrift store.

The nonprofit also has donated millions of dollars worth of items to residents in the six cities in Montgomery County.

President Lisa Waddell , who was elected in June, said her biggest challenge was re-establishing the league and thrift store after COVID-19 shuttered many operations.

“We did lose some members, but at the same time we remained solid and strong,” she said in an interview. “Even though we had to close the thrift shop temporarily, we got up and ran as soon as we could.”

A focused mission

Waddell said the league’s biggest mission is to find new ways to help the residents of Montgomery County.

The Assistance League’s flagship program is Operation School Bell, which provides new school clothes for students in prekindergarten through high school through several retail partnerships.

The league also operates programs ranging from donating blankets to the homeless to giving survival kits to assault victims. The second largest operation, Waddell said, is the scholarship program.

There are five scholarship categories—high school seniors, continuing education, workforce, special needs and an adult category for those needing to return to work after a life-altering event.

Waddell said the Assistance League is operated by approximately 200 volunteers.

Support from shop

The Assistance League Thrift Shop provides approximately 81% of the league’s budget that supports each program.

According to the Assistance League website, thrift shop earnings grew from $12,900 in 1986 to $752,852 in 2022. The thrift shop includes furniture, clothing, jewelry, shoes, electronics and household items.

Volunteer Gaile Drummond said working at the front desk she has met members of the community who were once given donations through the league.

“They may have received clothing through Operation School Bell when they were children, and now they’re donating,” she said.

Serving the community

The Assistance League of Montgomery County administers eight different programs.

Operation School Bell — Provides new school clothing for K-12 students

Scholarships — A multi-tier program for students and adults

Caring & Sharing — Helps provide for basic needs

Fans for Friends — Provides fans and blankets for seniors

Pass it On — Unsold items are donated to charitable agencies

Assault Survival Kits —Helps assault and trauma survivors

Tender Love & Care Dolls — Provides handmade dolls for agencies

Passport for Good Health — Provides health record booklets

Assistance League of Montgomery County