Volunteers Provide Help for Assault Victims, Clothing for School Children

Sun Lakes volunteers gather teddy bears, blankets, clothing, and snacks for Assistance League’s Assault Survivor Kits. From left are Della Stagner, Irma Wynne, and Candy Watkinson.

Sarah Auffret

When Della Stagner moved to Sun Lakes, she looked for volunteer opportunities that suited her interests and “felt right.” It wasn’t until she walked into the thrift shop of Assistance League of East Valley that she found her match.

“My friend Candy suggested I donate my good used clothing and housewares to the shop where she volunteered,” Stagner said. “The minute I walked into the shop, it was a fit! Everybody was so warm and welcoming, the store is lovely and clean, and everybody takes pride in what they do. It just felt good—the right place for me.”

Della has stepped up to be co-chair of the committee that puts together Assault Survivor Kits each month for 10 East Valley hospitals, police, and fire departments. The kits contain clothing, blankets, snacks, and even teddy bears. Victims of assault, accidents, or fires often are brought in with ruined clothing, or they must leave their clothing for forensic examination. Sometimes they are shivering from shock.

“The teddy bears are a source of comfort for adults as well as children,” said Kathy Totcky, committee co-chair. “People who are in crisis come in shaking, unable to speak, and this gives them something to hold. The fleece blankets are very comforting also.”

About a dozen Sun Lakes residents are regular volunteers at the thrift shop, which is located at 2326 N. Alma School Road in Chandler. Assistance League of East Valley provides new clothing and uniforms for more than 6,000 needy elementary school children each year, along with almost 5,000 Assault Survivor Kits, 12 college scholarships, supplies for homeless teens, and activities for elderly participants at Foundation for Senior Living in Tempe.

The organization will host a day of fashions and fundraising on Saturday, March 2, at the Marriott Phoenix Chandler, 1600 S. Price Road, Chandler. The event will feature a morning of boutique vendors, as well as a silent auction and raffle before the noon luncheon.

“It’s such a worthwhile organization,” said Stagner. “We help everybody in a family, on different levels.”

Totcky said the kits provided comfort and snacks for four children under the age of 10 who came home from school to find their mother deceased. A sex trafficking victim who had been held captive in a hotel room shivered as she clutched a warm blanket. A homeless woman in a mental health crisis hadn’t eaten in over a day. Soft foods are needed for domestic violence victims with strangulation injuries.

Assistance League of East Valley welcomes new members, as well as donations and shoppers at their thrift shop, which is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The all-volunteer group has a deep commitment to helping children and vulnerable adults in East Valley communities.

Reservations for the March 2 event are available online at the organization’s website, www.assistanceleagueeastvalley.org, or by mail or in person at their thrift shop located on Alma School Road just north of Warner.