By Nathanael Rodriguez
For The Signal
The chips were laid down as the stakes were raised along with donations during the Assistance League of Santa Clarita’s Casino Night — making the first-ever event a success for the local nonprofit, according to volunteers.
The event, held Friday night at the Hyatt Regency Valencia, welcomed more than 200 attendees to gamble for a good cause.
Guests were welcomed with a cocktail hour and then treated to a three-course meal, a full Las Vegas-style gaming setup and a DJ to keep the mood light.
“We were trying to have something different,” said Assistance League President Linda Likins. “Casino nights faded since the ’70s, and we thought it would be fun to bring it back and see how the community would receive it.”
To her joy, the community received it well, she said.
“One of our members said that she hadn’t played blackjack in 25 years,” said Gayle Nolet, vice president of resource development for Assistance League. “She said she was betting like she had never done in Vegas.”
Along with the high-stakes games, there was also a raffle at the event and a silent auction to help raise money for the organization.
“That was a lot of fun,” said Helen Barlow, public relations chair for the organization. “The community was very generous with providing prizes.”
Assistance League is a nonprofit that implements programs that give back to the community. Their biggest program, known as Operation School Bell, helps K-through-12th-grade students by providing them with new clothes. The operation is spearheaded out of a thrift store located on Main Street in Newhall that’s run by volunteers.
“Our community is very generous with their donations to the store,” said Likins. “The funds from the merchandise are used to support our other programs.”
Most of the money raised at the Casino Night went into Operation School Bell. However, the event had another purpose as well.
“This event was used to raise money for our programs but it was also a platform to announce the purchase of a new building,” said Nolet.
Assistance League has been renting its Newhall thrift store location for nearly 15 years but plans to move in December 2020 to a new location on Bouquet Canyon Road. During the event’s reception, the architectural plans were unveiled.
“We feel that this building is really important to us because our main source of income is our thrift store,” said Likins.
The thrift store has been responsible for clothing more than 3,000 children in 2018 with approximately 33,000 hours of volunteer time, Likins said.
All of the money raised at the store is used to further support Assistance League programs. The new location will provide more space for the thrift store as well as the headquarters for Assistance League of Santa Clarita.
“It’s been our dream for a while now,” Barlow said, “and it’s finally going to come to fruition.”