Operation School Bell ®
Operation School Bell, the signature national program of Assistance League, originated with the purpose of clothing children who might otherwise be unable to attend school because they lacked the most basic school attire. What began in the 1950s as a “clothes closet” that distributed used clothing to school children has evolved into a comprehensive program providing new clothing, health assistance, learning materials and enrichment programs to more than 300,000 recipients annually. Assistance League of Flintridge is proud to have been a part of Operation School Bell since 2005 and serves approximately 1,500 students each year.
2020 has been a year like no other but the Operation School Bell committee has been quite busy. They were able to quickly shift gears from the school activities that have been done in the past, meeting each new challenge as it came, and looked toward how to best serve the needs of the community during a pandemic.
Recently, the ALF OSB committee purchased backpacks, face masks, hand-sanitizer, hygiene kits and school supplies and delivered them to 400 students through Friends in Deed, an organization that provides supportive services for homeless and at-risk neighbors. In addition, Assistance League of Pasadena (ALP) and ALF worked with Friends in Deed to provide school clothing and supplies to another 600 students. These OSB teams have also identified several other organizations that they plan to reach out to this year.
When La Cañada Unified School District went to “distance learning”, the ALF OSB committee knew there would be a need to replace old, worn out ChromeBooks for the students to use as loaners. In May 2020, 50 new ChromeBooks were donated for this purpose. Additional ChromeBooks were purchased and are being given to students who have been identified by the District as having need.
The goal of Operation School Bell is to provide appropriate school clothing and materials to children with the aim of raising their self-esteem, increasing school attendance and improving classroom performance. Assistance League of Flintridge works with the La Cañada Unified School District to identify students in need and to provide new clothing, backpacks, school supplies and shoe/clothing gift cards to these children. Additionally, ALF partners with Assistance League of Pasadena in their OSB program. Assistance League of Flintridge members assist Pasadena students during school clothing fitting sessions and prepare the personal care kits. Our auxiliary members, Cañada Auxiliary of Professionals (CAP), also staff during fitting sessions and have donated money to the program.
In 2016, when members of Assistance League of Flintridge learned that over 600 students in the neighboring Sunland-Tujunga area were identified as homeless, the program was expanded to serve this need. Working with the Homeless Education Program of Los Angeles Unified School District, the ALF Operation School Bell committee proposed that 400 vouchers for $25 to purchase shoes and personal care kits be provided for homeless students in Sunland-Tujunga. ALF members enthusiastically approved the gift and have since coordinated a number of projects in the region.