A capital campaign gathered $6.1 million in donations, allowing a property purchase and nearly two years of construction at the Assistance League of Long Beach's home.

Now it's time to celebrate. But with the new normal of the coronavirus pandemic, that means a virtual grand opening for the Miller Children's Center and Cherese Mari Laulhere Philanthropic Center.

A grand opening video will be released this Saturday, Aug. 29. To see it, go to YouTube, search for AssistanceLeagueLongBeach, then click on the circled Assistance League logo to get to the Grand Opening video link. It also will be at allb.org/grandopening.

The Assistance League of Long Beach (the largest branch in the country) has served the community since 1940. For years, the Philanthropic Center at 6220 E. Spring St. has housed a youth orthodontic center, storage for Operation School Bell's school supply support program, offices, meeting rooms and more.

When the commercial building next door became available, Assistance League members jumped at the chance to expand. The capital campaign was led by a lead gift of $1.25 million from the Earl B. and Loraine H. Miller Foundation, and another of $1 million from the Cherese Mari Laulhere Foundation, resulting in the names of the buildings.

With the new Children's Center, the Assistance League operation will be able to serve 1,000 children a year with orthodontic care (from 400 sets of braces 13 years ago), and Operation School Bell will have nearly tripled the number of students it serves, to 12,000 a year.

The Philanthropic Center will be headquarters for all of the Assistance League's many other volunteer efforts as well as provide meeting space — and a home for the Howard and Asian Art Collection.

For more information, go to allb.org.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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