Published April 20, 2010
Volume 18, Number 4

Don’t Be Late for Assistance League’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party April 24 

Here is a very important date not to be late for: The Assistance League of Amador Valley’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, on Saturday, April 24. Held at the Aahmes Shrine Event Center in Livermore, the annual fund-raiser has been a high point of the spring season for the past 15 years.

The 2010 version not only coincides with the hit 3-D  movie, “Alice in Wonderland,” but it also features a performance by the popular local entertainment group, the Goodwill Bags. An auxiliary of Goodwill Industries of the Greater East Bay, this troupe of volunteers puts on vintage fashion shows, modeling authentic garb from yesteryear to the accompaniment of music of the era.

The Goodwill Bags are not the only source of sartorial splendor. Fashion-forward guests traditionally don their most attention-getting bonnets to compete in the fabled hat contest. Even the tables are dressed to the nines. “This is a very fun part,” comments Janis O’Rourke, the League’s PR Chair. Each table is set by a different member, decorated according to a special theme—an African safari, a railroad scene. “They are all so clever and cute. The doors open at noon, so when guests arrive, they spend their first hour walking around looking at all the different settings. It’s very festive.”

Other entertainment, before, during, and after tea and light sandwiches served by local high school volunteers, includes a silent auction, champagne bar, raffle prizes, and lucky teacups.

Still, the day is about more than fun, O’Rourke points out. The Assistance League is devoted to philanthropy, filling niches in the spectrum of community needs that are not otherwise being met. One example is its vision screening program, a strictly volunteer endeavor conducted by League members, which has evaluated more than 1,000 pre-schoolers.

Its largest and best-known project is undoubtedly Operation School Bell, which equips youngsters in grades K through 5 with brand-new clothing, shoes, and backpacks for school. The program’s special appeal is that it allows the students to pick out their own things. “Kids love making their own choices,” O’Rourke observes. Over a period of about six weeks, volunteers meet the children at Kohl’s and help them balance wants and needs while staying within the allotted budget.

The number of students served varies with each year’s fundraising results. “We help between 250 and 400 kids each year,” O’Rourke says, noting that they could help 1,000 if they had sufficient funding.

Other niche needs the League addresses is a program for the school-age parents at Horizon High School, offering tutoring and the opportunity to “earn” baby care items through performance and attendance rewards. Members also put together assault survivor kits—a set of sweat clothes, slippers, personal items, and a teddy bear—that help comfort and console assault victims at Tri-Valley hospital and shelters.

For more information about the Assistance League, send an email to Janis@orourke.com. For Tea Party tickets, call Carmen at 925-371-4566.


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