Clothing children

Beverly Connors, left, and Sheila Stimmel show a gift basket that will be part of a silent auction at an Assistance League of East Valley fashion show and luncheon April 16.

A group of volunteers from Ahwatukee and the East Valley are part of a group that has been working for months to plan a fashion show, luncheon and boutique, knowing that more than 7,000 school children are counting on them to receive new clothing next fall.

Assistance League of East Valley provides new clothing, shoes and hygiene kits for children each year through fundraising events, donations and proceeds from their thrift shop at 1950 N. Arizona Ave. in Chandler.

Their 24th annual fashion show and luncheon will be at noon on April 16 at the Arizona Grand Resort, 8000 Arizona Grand Pkwy., with a vendor boutique opening at 9 a.m. Boutique items will include custom designed jewelry, apparel, handbags, home décor, linens and glassware.

Beverly Connors of Ahwatukee is chairperson for the event, called “The 20’s and all that Jazz,” which will feature fashions from Dillard’s. A silent auction will include several gift baskets, a hand-stitched quilt, Diamondbacks and Cardinals tickets, Gammage tickets, a resort stay and trips. Tickets for the event are $75 and are available at the website:

“The women in our organization want to make a difference,” said Connors, who moved to Ahwatukee from Florida two years ago and joined Assistance League because she was looking for a way to get involved in the community. “I see it in the hours they devote, in the times they talk about an experience with a child. They are relentless in their enthusiasm.” 

Elementary school children from Tempe, Mesa, Kyrene, Chandler and Gilbert school districts receive clothing from the organization after being recommended by family resource officers at their schools. The children are thrilled to receive a shopping trip to Target, or a set of two uniforms if they attend a uniform school.

The group also provided 4,350 assault survivor kits last year to local police and fire departments containing clothing and personal care items for victims of trauma, and teddy bears for child victims. They also host monthly birthday parties at an adult care center and at a school for homeless children, provide supplemental materials to teachers, sponsor spelling bees and award 10 college scholarships.

“I enjoy offering my creative skills, and I love working in the thrift shop,” said Sheila Stimmel of Ahwatukee, who has been a member of the group for 11 years. “I like knowing that everything I do contributes to improving the lives of those in need, mostly children, in our community. And, of course a bonus is that I have more friends than I would ever have had without Assistance League.”

The Assistance League thrift shop, located at the southwest corner of Arizona Avenue and Warner Road in Chandler, is an upscale outlet that carries boutique and everyday apparel, books, housewares, crafts, small appliances, fabric, toys and children’s clothing. 

Assistance League of East Valley is part of a national non-profit Assistance League that carries out community-based philanthropic projects. They welcome new members as well as donations of any kind. The group also is seeking businesses or individuals as sponsors for the fashion show, which is their major fundraiser.

• Sarah Auffret is a Tempe freelance writer and volunteer member of the Assistance League of East Valley. Reach her at

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