Skip to main content

Style El Dorado County Foothills

Assistance League of Sierra Foothills

11/25/2014 12:07PM ● By Morgan Cásarez

Assistance League volunteers at Operation School Bell event at the Target in El Dorado Hills – Photos by Dante Fontana © Style Media Group

When she reflects on her retirement years, Barbara Brown still remembers a time when she couldn’t imagine being as passionate about anything as her former career—that is, until she became a founding member of Assistance League of Sierra Foothills (ALSF).

In 2008, Brown, who serves as co-chair of the organization’s Public Relations Committee with Crista Dixon, joined forces with other El Dorado Hills’ residents looking for a way to make a difference in their community through volunteerism and philanthropy. Just four years later, what started as a local guild became the 120th  recognized chapter of Assistance League, a national charity dedicated to supporting the needs of communities across the country. In just six years, ALSF has grown to include 100 members donating thousands of volunteer hours.

“Assistance League…fills a void in myself that I never knew was there,” Brown says. “Helping someone who is your neighbor only makes our communities stronger and it has made me a stronger person.”

Through its partnership with the El Dorado County Office of Education, ALSF’s signature program, Operation School Bell, gives hundreds of local children in need the opportunity to shop for new school clothing. In addition to accompanying students and their parents on shopping sprees throughout Placerville, South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado Hills, volunteers also distribute coupons for free haircuts from Supercuts and Barber Jon’s, and books furnished by the First Book National Book Bank.

“I love the history of Assistance League and how it began with women helping provide children with school clothing,” explains current ALSF President, Sharon Heilman. “As a former teacher and administrator, I have seen how important clothing is to kids and how it relates to academic performance and how they feel about themselves in general.”

Since first partnering with ALSF in 2010, Tara Turrentine, director of Placerville Union School District’s Family Resource Center, has connected some of the county’s neediest students with Operation School Bell and counts Saturday shopping trips with its volunteers among her favorite days of the school year. 

“I vividly remember the young student who picked the brightest colors, a skirt that was similar to a tutu, and funky striped socks,” Turrentine shares. “She was thrilled. She had a distinct preference in style and had never been able to express herself in her clothing until she was able to pick out her own clothes, rather than receive hand-me-downs.”

According to Brown, the California Department of Education reports that in El Dorado County, more than 5,500 K-8 students are socioeconomically disadvantaged, while more than 600 K-12 students are designated homeless. With continued membership growth, she hopes to help more children, families and seniors throughout El Dorado County.

“I’m…a parent and nothing hurts a parent more than when their children are hurting,” she says. “Watching children go to school with duct taped shoes or no coat in the winter, not being able to fund your child playing organized sports; these aren’t good feelings...Assistance League can help.”
For more information, visit

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to the Style - El Dorado County free newsletter to stay informed