Las Aletas serve as philanthropic angels in community
They are called Las Aletas, which is Spanish for “The Little Wings.”
“And the wings we wear are the angel variety as we fly low under the radar creating miracles in our community,” said Alyson Spann, a member of the group for 15 years.
When the auxiliary of the Assistance League of Santa Barbara was formed in 1964, the members were daughters of Assistance League members.
Today, 45 women of all ages and backgrounds volunteer their time and talents to support three philanthropic programs, according to Ms. Spann, public relations chairperson for the organization.
They are Operation School Bell, Kids on the Block and Operation Bookshelf.
“Our largest program is Operation School Bell. Annually, we provide new clothing, books, school supplies and health kits to more than 600 elementary and preschool children in need from the Goleta Union School District and Head Start program among others,” Ms. Spann told the News-Press.
“Clothing is chosen by the children in the Operation School Bell bungalow, which is set up as a store. Located in Goleta, it is staffed by Las Aletas members.”
Kids on the Block refers to the life-size puppets manned by Las Aletas volunteers who present shows in local elementary schools and preschools.
“The puppets entertain and educate children about safety, bullying, divorce and to accept differences whether they are physical, emotional or learning difficulties,” Ms. Spann said.
Operation Bookshelf provides homebound individuals of all ages with reading and audio material.
“We select library books based on the clients’ interests and deliver them to their homes monthly,” said Ms. Spann.
This past week, Las Aletas auxiliary joined Assistance League members in conducting ACTION Week, which is sponsored by all 120 chapters nationally to address literacy and hunger.
“Locally, it entailed a drive-by food drive for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. For four hours on three days, members were stationed in front of the League House at 1259 Veronica Springs Road to accept donations of healthy food items or checks made out to the Foodbank,” said Ms. Spann.
To address literacy, Las Aletas members were there to raise funds to purchase Playaway Bookpacks for the Goleta Valley Library.
“Each Playaway Bookpack has a selection of print books plus a preloaded audio player, which allows the child to read along with an actual book,” said Ms. Spann. “The Playaway Bookpacks cost between $40 and $100 each, and we are seeking donations to add to the Goleta (Valley) Library’s collection of backpacks for grades K through 3 and 3 through 6. Las Aletas Kids on the Block puppets will demonstrate the Playaway books on the Goleta library’s YouTube channel.”
She added that the public can support their literacy and hunger efforts by sending checks to the Assistance League, Attn. Dianne Davis, 1259 Veronica Springs Road, Santa Barbara 93105, noting which program to benefit.
Ms. Spann pointed out that the Assistance League and Las Aletas volunteer more than 50,000 hours a year to improve the lives of local residents. Las Aletas members work in the Assistance League Thrift Shop at 1259 Veronica Springs Road, which is a major source of funding for their philanthropic programs.
“Las Aletas auxiliary is not a static group but one full of energetic women who are willing to volunteer their time to meet the needs of those less fortunate in the community,” she said.
“Our motto is ‘All for Service and Service for All.’ ”