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Life and Arts

Soaring through volunteerism

Jean Peacock has made a fortune off eBay — but she hasn’t taken a dime of the profits. She spends hour after hour bidding on products for the Assistance League of Glendale, where she’s in her second term as president.

Her haul has included carved ivory sculptures, rare books and designer purses. She also haunts estate sales, picking up unsold items at cut-rate prices. It’s all for the league’s monthly silent auctions. The Glendale resident learned about collectibles from a closely held source — her sister ran an antique shop in Santa Barbara for many years.

This isn’t even her primary volunteer assignment at the league. She has a lifelong passion for education, having spent 32 years teaching kindergartners and first-graders at Glendale’s Glenoaks Elementary School. This made her the perfect recruit for her first unpaid job at the league. While she was still teaching, a league volunteer came to her classroom and told her how the league’s project, Operation School Bell, works.

“The program partners with retail stores to gather and distribute school clothes and supplies,” she said. “So many kids were in need, and last year alone we did over 500 children. Each one would take home a big sack of clothes — at least three outfits each — with everything included, shoes from Payless, socks, underwear and a backpack for every child. When the school nurse called and said, ‘We’ve got 35 kids [who need help] and they’re ready,’ our volunteers were ready as well.”


The nurse coordinates the program at Glenoaks Elementary.

Peacock, 74, also runs the Assistance League thrift shop on Harvard Street in Glendale, and volunteers for Glendale Adventist Medical Center.

But don’t expect her to stand on any soapbox or hire a publicist. She’s a soft-spoken senior with a laser focus on volunteerism.

She has been a valuable member of the league, said Claire Collins, a league volunteer since 1973.


“She’s quiet, dedicated to what she’s doing, and very much on top of things,” Collins said. “She’s the real thing. She does her job and does it the way it needs to be done. She’s very well liked, and people trust her judgment. She certainly gives her all.”

Peacock is now busy planning for the league’s yearly Christmas sale set from Aug. 5 to 7, where members decorate artificial trees to be displayed at the organization’s national Winter Festival of Trees, which will be in Glendale this year. The volunteers raffle off the trees and other items to raise money for the coming year. Peacock is also getting ready to travel to New Orleans for the league’s annual convention in September.

And when she’s not helping others, she’s reading the “Twilight” series of youth-oriented vampire novels, “to keep up with my granddaughter,” who’s 14.

Once a year she takes some “me” time at a lake home in Wisconsin. While her husband spends the time fishing, Peacock does some hiking and works crossword puzzles, and gets ready for more volunteer work.