60 YEARS OF SERVICE: The Salem Kaiser Aid Association is a milestone

In 1962, a group of women came together to form the Salem Keizer Aid League. Their first meetings were in their homes, and their programs were small.

Today, the Aid League has nearly 200 members and many volunteers, and plans to stay in the Salem area to help more families.

The community thank you to celebrate the nonprofit’s 60th anniversary is planned for Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at two locations: Daue House Gift Shop at 1095 Saginaw St. S., and Encore Furniture, at 1198 Commercial St. As fundraising withdrawal sites and retail sites for fundraising for the Help Association.

Cookies, food trucks, and hauls will complete the celebration. There is no entry fee required, but donations are always welcome.

“This is the community’s celebration of our 60th year. It’s not a fundraiser. It’s more a thank you to the community,” said Sally Bilstein, president of the Salem-Kisser Aid Association.

One of the first programs that began in the 1960s in Salem was to provide second-hand clothes and shoes to children in need. This program remains, but it has changed over the years. School bell operation Save now New pants, shirts, shoes, coats, socks and underwear for children in need.

“The school bell operation satisfies such a dire need, so it takes center stage,” Bilstein said. “There is so much need in Salem, there is no one outside to wear clothes.”

“Some of these kids haven’t gotten anything new on their own, as things have always been handed to them. So they are happy to get those new clothes. They tend to get along better, and the theory is they want to go to school and do well there,” she said. “But it’s hard to quantify that.”

Janet George loads a hygiene kit into a drawstring bag at the Salem-Kaiser Help League on Monday, April 26, 2021 (Amanda Lowman/Salem Reporter)

Educators at Chemawa Indian School and Salem-Keizer Public Schools provide information about children who must participate in Operation School Bell. Help League members create packages full of clothes for these kids. These packages belong to the school counselors, who give them to the children.

In 1960, the first year of this program, 83 students were served in 19 schools. During the 2020-21 school year, more than 2,500 students were served by Operation School Bell at more than 65 schools in the Salem area.

Other Help League programs provide library books for stay-at-home adults, help children who leave foster homes transition to independent living, and help homeless families create new homes. None of these programs were available in the 1960s.

“When we saw the need, and our members were interested, we added programs,” Bilstein said. “We are trying not to add now. We are just trying to meet the needs that we have now.”

Operation Bookshelf was organized in September 1972 and served 403 personnel. In 2020-2021, the program served 55 adults each month. (Courtesy of Assistance League Salem-Keizer)

For 40 years, the association has held a lasagna luncheon to raise money for these programs. It was considered the group’s largest fundraiser, and many members look forward to the event each year.

“The epidemic just stopped that,” Bilstein said. “So we’re looking at other ways to raise money, including a different major event.”

On November 3, the Help League is holding an event in conjunction with the Brothers Car Museum. Guests look at more than 350 vintage cars. Doors open at 3pm and close at 8pm. Tickets are now available for $75 On the Help Association website.

“I think it will be very interesting and may attract a lot of people who have not heard of The Help League before. This is one of our goals: to get the word out about us,” Bilstein said.

All of these programs and events are staffed by dedicated members and volunteers.

“We are still a very viable organization. We do amazing things with a few people, and we are all very proud of that,” Bilstein said. “We say people join the Help League because they believe in the cause, but they stay for the sake of friendships. People are really drawn to the things we do, but when they join in, such camaraderie exists. They make friends, make connections, and it fills a real niche for them.”

Members and Volunteers Opportunities Available nowHelp is always needed.

“We tried it. “We are always looking for members,” Bilstein said.

Volunteers and members run Aid Association programs. In this undated photo, a volunteer prepares a display of donations. (Courtesy of Assistance League Salem-Keizer)

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