By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
The Clarksburg League for Service got its start in 1934, and since its inception it has continued to assist the less fortunate in the immediate area through it many service projects.
As the organization’s name indicates, ‘service’ is the key word among its members!
Although it is officially called the Clarksburg League for Service, its members are not strictly from Clarksburg; and the helping hand that it extends reaches out to those throughout Harrison County.
In the beginning, the League’s founder, Amy Roberts Vance, was instrumental in setting up the ‘In As Much Baby Clinic’ that served less fortunate children in Harrison County. However, during the League’s 83-year history, needs changed and so have the goals of the organization – somewhat. While the baby clinic is no longer in existence, other worthwhile projects have taken its place and all of those projects still focus on lending a helping hand to those who need it.
For example, some of the League’s projects include giving scholarships to seniors in Harrison County Schools as well as additional scholarships (that can be ongoing) to those who are pursuing a career in the medical field. The League also sponsors students to Boys State and Girls State. In addition, they have adopted a project called the Harrison County Backpack Program that provides filled backpacks to students in need as well as warm coats to students in elementary, middle and high schools in the county. Last year, they started a new program for Veterans, and they have increased that budgetary item this year; that program helps Veterans with clothing, shoes and personal care items. They also help the homeless, provide a summer picnic for residents at the Clarksburg Mission, and host an Easter Egg hunt at the Clarksburg-Harrison Library.
“Things change in our world, and we continue to take a close look and see where there are new needs,” said new League president Pam Preston. “We may not solve large problems in the long term, but we keep extending a hand to help changes come about for families. We continue to evolve.”
Preston said that when there is a need, the organization is alerted and gets referrals from social service agencies, churches, and schools.
“The schools and their guidance counselors are a valuable source for us because they are there with the kids every day and are aware of their needs. We try to be available to them and help supply those needs,” she added.
Amy’s Attic is currently the main focus of the League. A project that was launched in 2008, the ‘Attic’ is filled with household items, cleaning supplies, personal care items, clothing, school supplies, etc. and is stocked just like a store. Families who need help and have gone through the referral process receive vouchers and can shop there for needed items. Those items are all free!
Preston explained, “Our organization raises funding; we go out and make the purchases of these stocked items; we carry them in, unload and arrange the stock. Then people have the dignity of using their vouchers to actually shop for what they need. Although no money is exchanged, those people are not just being given a hand-out; they can take pride in doing the shopping themselves.”
Preston reiterated the importance of outreach. “We know it is tough for many families, and there are times when some children kind of raise themselves. For example, some single mothers may be working two minimum wage jobs to make ends meet and simply may not have the time to make the connections to get a voucher to shop at Amy’s Attic. We are trying to reach out to those folks even more and make it easier for families to get help. Eventually, we’d like to fill a closet at area schools so that when people cannot come to us, their children won’t go without.”
The League for Service has NO paid staff. The members all work on a volunteer basis. The League gets its funding through grants, corporate and personal donations, and they host an annual fundraiser, which is typically a huge event where tickets are sold and perhaps an auction is held. Preston also noted that some of their donors care about something in particular and they may make a financial donation to a specific project.
The League for Service has about a hundred members, 65 of which are very active participants. Members live or work in Harrison County and range in age from their 20’s to 90’s! One thing they all have in common, however, is their commitment to making a difference and caring and helping others in the communities in Harrison County.
“We work very hard as volunteers to make that difference,” Preston concluded. “We listen to people who understand the needs of our communities in Harrison County, and we are committed to meeting those needs. When we take on projects, we make them happen! Our goal is always success – not for ourselves but for the families who are served.”
Anyone who might like to learn more about the Clarksburg League for Service may visit their new website at leagueforservice.org. To become a member, call membership chairman Catherine Preston at 304-669-6428. Donations to assist the League with funding may be mailed to League for Service, PO Box 35, Clarksburg, WV 26302.