Assistance League

The Assistance League of Austin is using money earned from selling used goods to help purchase new items and high-level assistance for needy area children and adults.

Known best for its thrift store on Burnet Road, the Austin chapter of Assistance League—one of 120 nationally—uses money from its retail operation to fund 79 percent of the group's nine assistance programs.

"The quality of the merchandise is what keeps people coming back," 2013–14 chapter President Mary Ann Parker said. "All donations are treated with care."

Donations help make up the rest of the money necessary to fund each program, Parker said.

"We're a working organization—we don't do galas," Parker said. "We're trying to touch every segment of the population."

The chapter has approximately 380 members, including nearly 40 new members this year, she said. In total the group has logged more than 65,000 volunteer hours.

The summer allows the group time to restock its school clothing in anticipation of school restarting. From August up until spring break, ASA will provide thousands of school children with clothes, including uniforms for students attending two new gender-specific junior high schools that open this fall.

ASA also assists in emergencies. For example, one Austin ISD school nurse realized multiple children were wearing the same clothes each day, and ASA members were quick to provide new outfits. They also assisted Onion Creek flood victims last Halloween by providing blankets, towels and cleaning supplies, among other items.

The volunteer group next plans to retrofit the front of its building, which was paid off five years after being purchased in 2005.

Assistance League programs

  • Assault Survivor Kits: Sexual assault victims receive support services and an exam

  • Assistance League Scholarships: Tuition assistance/tutoring for select ACC students

  • Bus With Us: Senior citizens partake in day trips to Central Texas destinations

  • Fresh Start: Program helps foster youth transitioning from high school to adulthood

  • Operation School Bell: Provides clothing and uniforms to at-risk school children of all ages

  • Operation Wish List: Each year the chapter adopts a different Austin ISD school with a large economically disadvantaged student population to provide new instructional tools

  • Outreach: Chapter collaborates with nonprofit and for-profit agencies to provide short-term support for special community needs

  • Toy Cart: Each Dell Children's Medical Center patient and visiting child receive their choice of toy and book four times per week

  • Waste Not: All items not sold in the thrift store are given to a half-dozen other nonprofit agencies to ensure all donations provide a benefit

Assistance League, 4901 Burnet Road, 512-458-2633,

By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.


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