The can-do spirit that prompted citizens to band together and repair Lawrence after it was sacked during the 1860s remains alive in the Social Service League. The league today serves the community by providing such basic essentials as clothing, furniture and school books to families in need.
The league, officially formed in 1871 as the Lawrence Civic League, actually got its start after Lawrence was burned in 1863, when the town was caught in the violence of the Civil War. A group of people joined together to help rebuild Lawrence.
``They basically cleaned things up and planted trees and picked up garbage,'' said Dora Bice, president of the board of directors.
It became the Social Service League when it was chartered in 1911, according to Bice.
TODAY the league's thrift store, at 905 R.I., is a United Way-sponsored agency that provides clothing, books, kitchen supplies and many other items to people in need. Items sold in the league's store are priced low so that people can buy more of what they need.
In addition to its store, the league also has been working with area schools to help provide children's shoes and conduct eye exams.
Although the clothing and other material is inexpensive, the league serves more than low-income people.
``We do have low-income customers but that's not all we serve,'' Bice said. ``We serve many types of people.''
Bice said students have come into the store in the past to buy items to help furnish their apartments. All the items sold are used goods. Besides funding from the United Way, the league supports itself from the proceeds of its store.
``A LOT OF it is donated by groups like church groups and so on,'' Bice said. ``Even individuals bring in things.''
Like many other United Way agencies, the league is run by volunteers. Fannie Mease, a volunteer, said the league could always use more volunteers to help with overall upkeep of the store and inventory.
``We could use more volunteers to do some mending,'' Mease said. ``Some of the clothes we get need to have a little sewing done to them.''
Mease also said the older white building in which the store is located was in need of some repair. The league bought the building around 1938, according to Bice.
``We don't have the manpower to do some of the things we'd like to do,'' Mease said.
Bice encourages people to bring donated items to the store.
``We have a lot of things in storage already,'' Bice said. ``When people drop items off we have a lot to put away.''
That is a pleasant task, though. It means there are plenty of useful items for the people of Lawrence.