ST. GEORGE — In a first-of-its-kind program, the Assistance League of Southern Utah is reaching out to students in Colorado City and Beaver Dam.
Although the towns are in Arizona, they are close enough for the Assistance League to undertake an endeavor to hand out art supplies to 85 students in sixth grade. Ann Balsterholt, vice president of marketing for the league, said the goal is to spark imagination in children.
“We’ve designed this special program that we haven’t done before to address issues and help kids,” Balsterholt said. “The program keeps them busy after school. We really don’t want children to sit in front of the television all of the time.”
Starting Monday and running through the week, Assistance League of Southern Utah volunteers will visit two schools and hand out tote bags filled with art supplies.
Balsterholt said that throughout the region there are many disadvantaged children whose families can’t afford even the simplest of things like crayons and coloring books. This program also addresses this issue.
“We really wanted to do charity work in this area because these kids are really poor, and we want to help them,” she said.
The cost of the program is $2,000, and stretching the money as far as it will go, students will receive items such as coloring books, 24 fine tip markers, 24 colored pencils, a pencil sharpener and things they can do at home.
“Children at these schools go home after school with really nothing to do and have little supervision,” Balsterholt said. “We are trying to spark creative imagination. We want to let them do things that are fun and will enrich their minds.”
To augment the art program, future goals of the Assistance League include extending their annual Operation School Bell, which provides new clothing to disadvantaged students, and starting up a literacy program in Colorado City and Beaver Dam.
“We already do this to kids in Southern Utah, and I imagine we will branch out to these students in the fall,” Balsterholt said.
The Assistance League, the parent organization of the Southern Utah chapter, was established in Los Angeles in the early 1890s.
Assistance League was the first nonprofit, nonpolitical, nonsectarian organization in the West to recognize the potential of volunteers in helping those less fortunate to a better, more meaningful life.
Assistance League chapters across America annually return almost $58 million to local communities, assisting 1.6 million people. This is made possible by the more than 22,000 volunteers in 120 chapters who contribute 3.5 million service hours.
Since 1958, more than 4 million children have been assisted.
In March 2008, Southern Utah became a guild of the parent organization and obtained its nonprofit status under the National Assistance League’s group exemption.
In 2013, Southern Utah became the 120th chapter of the Assistance League and currently has approximately 100 members.
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