Quincy Service League began in January 1938 when Mrs. John Boyd Stone came to Quincy from Peoria. She joined with 25 other young women to start the Quincy Service League, which has grown to over 300 active and sustaining members today.
The first project was Children’s Theatre and the original budget was $58.55. The first members formed committees and decided it would be best for the community to establish on-going projects. This is how the QSL serves the community still today.
In the beginning, members did a variety of fundraising, everything from bake sales to car washes. In 1940, the first Rummage Sale was held and became an annual event for many years. In 1944, League produced a show, “Dream of a Clown,” an all-male extravaganza featuring 80 businessmen who performed acts, jokes and even a ballet scene. In 1946, Al Burke of Jerome & Cargill Company of New York City directed League Members and their agreeable spouses in the first Follies. The projects included Children’s Little Theater, Motor Corps, Toy Hospital, Hospital Library, Pre-Natal Clinic, Canteen and Adult Recreation.
During the 1950’s, projects focused on children. It was known as “the place” to purchase school clothes and formal attire. The projects included Toy Hospital, Irving School, Girl Scout Troop, The Loan Closet and Children’s Theater.
QSL celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 1963. The emphasis during the 1960’s was on teenagers and the elderly. Ways & Means continued to hold its annual Rummage Sale. In 1962, the Fall Follies was introduced. The show raised $5,000. A 30-volume sight-saving set was purchased for Webster School as a result. League also donated $1,000 to the YMCA’s new building fund. In 1968 League produced another show that raised $6,000. The Rummage Sale continued until 1966 when competition with garage sales affected its profits. The Holiday Gift Show and Sale took up where the Rummage Sale left off. Started in 1969, the show has consolidated all League fundraising into this one event. Introduced in October, the show’s main purpose was for local merchants to display and sell large and small gift items. Special features included a luncheon and door prize drawing. Projects included Junior Shoppe, Meals on Wheels, Rehabilitation Workshop, Children’s Theater, Adult Recreation, Children’s Recreation and Exceptional Children.
A scholarship for Vocational and Technical Education was introduced in 1970. It was awarded to a girl in need of financial assistance to prepare herself for a trade career such as beauty school, nurses training, culinary arts, etc. In the 1970’s the Holiday Gift Show and Sale provided the only funding for League projects. Chicken salad and the dessert table were introduced in 1973. In 1973 League became associated with the Red Cross Blood Bank. By 1976 members provided homemade cookies four times a year for blood drives and even spent time scrubbing arms for blood draws. In 1974, League coordinated activities for the Big Brother/Big Sister program. League members accompanied four to six year olds on outings around town. Other projects included Pink Pushy Kats, Tel-A-Folks, Tutorial Reading, Psychomotor Tutoring, Meals on Wheels, Junior Shoppe and Woodland Home.
The 1980’s brought significant change and recognition to Quincy Service League. This decade was marked by WGEM-TV’s presentation of its 1981 Community Service Award to League. It was the first time an organization won the five-year-old honor. WGEM cited League’s contributions of time and money to the community as reasons for the nomination. In 1982 the “Best in the League” cookbook was featured on NBC’s Today show. It was also included in a national Junior League cookbook catalog in 1984. It took three Service League meetings for members to test and approve all of the recipes include in the book. In 1988 Service League once again received national attention. On October 25, Barbara Bush, wife of then Vice-President George Bush, visited the Story Lady project at Madison School’s Head Start program. She was on a Presidential campaign trip to Quincy. Costumed League members performed a 12-minute musical. The spot had national coverage on NBC. The Gift Show continued to grow and expand. In its first 14 years, the show raised more than $130,000 for Service League projects, scholarships and grants. In 1981 Sunrise Madness let 300 early morning shoppers in for breakfast and first chance at the booths. That year the show offered babysitting and expanded into the gymnasium. In 1982 a theme was added to the show and Sunrise Madness tickets increased to 500. Claus Corner was introduced in 1987. In 1989 the Gift Show set a new record of over 8,000 in attendance and over $20,000 in profits. In 1988 League celebrated its 50th Anniversary. Projects of the 80’s included Parenting Pals, Chaddock and Monotones.
The 1990’s reflected the good works of the Quincy Service League and showed the commitment to serving the community. During this decade, League donated a ‘star’ for the Quincy Community Theatre’s lobby floor. It also donated $5,000 to the Quincy Society of Fine Art’s Corridor of the Arts project. The Gift Show and Sale continues to fund projects. In 1990, Santa’s Secret Shop was introduced where children could purchase gifts for less than seven dollars. A raffle was introduced that same year with prizes in excess of $1,000. Projects included Toys to Go, Immunization Clinic, Senior Meals, Education, Junior Shoppe, Sunshine Squad, Monotones and Chaddock.
QSL continues to make a significant impact on the community today. With the addition of new projects, such as the YWCA and the Student Mentoring program, Service League reaches out to the current needs in the community. In 2006, QSL was honored by receiving Chaddock’s “Harry and Carlene Geisler Friend of the Children Award.” With the addition of new projects, such as the Madonna House program, Service League reaches out to the current needs in the community.