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Clothed in kindness

Operation School Bell helps schoolchildren look their best


CLOTHING CHILDREN :  Judy Jimenez, Assistance League Philanthropic Vice President, showcases the threads that have clothed over 1,100 children in SLO County through Operation School Bell. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • CLOTHING CHILDREN : Judy Jimenez, Assistance League Philanthropic Vice President, showcases the threads that have clothed over 1,100 children in SLO County through Operation School Bell.

Not every child gets the luxury of a back-to-school shopping spree, but Assistance League of San Luis Obispo is giving some of these children the chance to attend school dressed for success with their program, Operation School Bell.

Operation School Bell provides new school clothes for low-income children in grades kindergarten through six in SLO County.

This year Assistance League clothed 1,100 children, according to Assistance League Philanthropic Vice President Judy Jimenez.

“It is necessary because there are so many parents in our county who can’t afford to provide clothing for their children to wear to school,” Assistance League president Diane Schneider said. “Kids go to school feeling like they belong because they aren’t wearing Uncle Sam’s sweatshirt. If they don’t have to worry about how they look, they can focus on learning.”

The program begins each August and runs through mid-January. Children are referred by their school or a social service agency.

“We set up appointments for the children to come into our facilities and give them the opportunity to choose their own clothing,” Schneider said. “An outreach program is available for families who are unable to come into the facilities for an appointment.”

All of the clothes given out through Operation School Bell are new. Children receive two outfits consisting of two pairs of pants,
a sweatshirt, a pair of shoes, a jacket, a backpack, and at least five pairs of underwear and socks. They also receive a new book to put in their backpack through the Books for Packs program.

“For some of these children, it is really their first opportunity to shop and get something new,” said Schneider.

Money to purchase the clothing is secured through Assistance League fundraising efforts, donations, and grants.

“Our upcoming fundraiser, Charitable Chic, is a luncheon fashion show taking place on January 31 at the Cliffs Resort in Shell Beach,” Schneider said.

Tickets are $50 and a portion of ticket sales for Charitable Chic will go toward Operation School Bell.

Assistance League canvas tote bags are another one of the organization’s main philanthropy projects. These tote bags contain basic personal items and toiletries, and are distributed to local women’s shelters and the Assault Recovery and Prevention Center.

 Assistance League is a national nonprofit organization with 24,000 members and 144 chapters across the U.S. The San Luis Obispo County chapter has 75 volunteers.

For more information about Operation School Bell and other Assistance League programs, contact Assistance League of SLO County at 782-0824, P.O. Box 14904, SLO 93406; or visit
Fast facts

Charles E. Teach Elementary School hosts its third annual dinner auction on Jan. 31. The proceeds will fund scholarships for educational trips and support the school’s enrichment programs. State champion auctioneer, Jim Glines, will take bids at an auction. There will be dancing, courtesy of the Cuesta Ridge Mountain Boys. This event takes place at the San Luis Obispo Country Club, where the doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will be served at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $75 per person. Call Mary Amir at 235-9781 or Cara Cosgrove at 503-8496 for yours. For more information, visit the school’s website at …

Habitat for Humanity of San Luis Obispo is taking applications for four homes the agency will build in Grover Beach in 2009. Habitat for Humanity uses donations of funds, materials, professional services, and volunteer labor to build simple, decent homes, which are then sold to qualified, very low-income families. Application workshops will be offered to help potential homeowners fill out the housing applications on Sunday, Jan. 25, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Ramona Garden Park Community Center and Saturday, Feb. 21, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Trouville Community Center. Both centers are located at 1230 Trouville, Grover Beach. To apply online, visit Habitat for Humanity at …

The City of Atascadero Recreation Services is offering “Instant Guitar for Hopelessly Busy People,” a one-time class about guitar basics taught by John Rau on Jan. 24 from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
For more information call the City of Atascadero Recreation Services at 461-5000. …

Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, a nonprofit organization that makes audio textbooks for the reading-impaired, will hold an orientation for volunteers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 27 at Coast National Bank, 500 Marsh St. in SLO. ∆

Interns Bridget Veltri and Clinton McGue compiled this week’s Strokes&Plugs. Send business and nonprofit news to [email protected].

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