``He left the city in ashes, innocent dead in every street, and hundreds of widows and orphans crying wildly through the gloom or standing hopelessly about their smoldering homes.''
This scene can only describe the wake of destruction left by W.C. Quantrill and his men, who destroyed Lawrence in 1863 in the name of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America.
The city survived by helping people help themselves, and that same spirit was the premise in 1871 for establishing the Lawrence Civil League, known today as the Social Service League.
Over its 119 years in existence, the organization has evolved to meet the needs of the times. During World War II, for example, it maintained a Victory Garden and members knitted sweaters.
The Social Service League of Douglas County has served the community in many ways, affirming its tradition of helping the individual help himself or herself, according to Dora Bice, its president since 1958.
IN 1990, the league continues to meet the needs of local people. It is best known for the contribution of shoes and eye examinations to school children.
Financing of these two primary services comes from a $2,000 donation by the United Way of Douglas County. Through United Way donations, the SSL has been able to increase the number of children assisted. In 1989, 91 children received new shoes and 16 had eye examinations.
Sandra Holloway, division director of student services for the Lawrence public schools, approves recommendations from social workers and school nurses for assistance. As part of the district's reorganization, Holloway recently has become involved with the league's program.
``I am pleased to be able to work on this,'' she said. ``I haven't turned down any requests for help this year, and 30 children have received shoes so far.''
REDEEMABLE coupons are given to the children following approval. At that point, they can arrange to pick out their new pair of shoes at a local store.
Eye examinations are given by local doctors at a flat fee of $25 a visit, which is paid in full by the league.
If a child needs eyeglasses, the SSL refers the parents to another local charity that is independent of the league.
The Social Service League relies on volunteer participation and monetary donations to sustain itself, with the board of directors allocating aid where necessary. Currently there is one full-time paid employee of the league's store and the rest of the staff is volunteer.
The store, 905 R.I., houses a variety of items ranging from clothing to small kitchen equipment to a few record albums. Customers pay minimal prices for items.
MRS. BICE explained the league's belief that paying a nominal price of 10 to 25 cents for the items creates a sense of pride in ownership.
Mrs. Bice has worked with the organization in various capacities since she joined the board of directors and has seen the organization change to fit the needs of the people of Lawrence.
``It's all people-oriented,'' she said. ``That's the reason I was interested in working here.''