By Mary Alys Cherry and Lisa Holbrook
Few organizations in the Bay Area change more lives than the Assistance League. Its members spend countless hours seeing that children from needy families get new clothes for school so they fit right in with all the rest of their classmates.
And, while they’ve been doing this for some 20 years or more, Nov. 5, 2019, was a landmark date for the 2019-2020 Operation School Bell. On that date Assistance League members completed dressing the 3,231st student: 498 more students than were dressed during the 2018-2019 school year.
“The success of the program this year is due to the support and input of our members, community partners and volunteers, school district volunteers, financial support from local businesses and foundations, and our local Kohl’s and Target department stores,” Chairman Elizabeth Arceneaux said.
Phase 1 dressing began on Aug. 17 and ended Sept. 21. During that period, 3,031 students attended dressing events at the three local Kohl’s stores (Baybrook, League City and Pasadena) and the Galveston Island Target. They were greeted by dedicated volunteers and given a budgeted amount to use to purchase new school appropriate clothing, shoes, underwear, and a jacket. At checkout, each student was supplied with a hygiene kit and a Sesame Workshop book, Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me, she said.
Students also were able to select books donated bylocal schools and at the Baybrook Kohl’s books donated by the store. A total of 6,952 books were placed in the hands of these students.
Two Phase 2 dressing events were held at the Baybrook and League City Kohl’s stores on Oct. 5 and Nov. 7. Since then, during a Nov. 22 emergency dressing, an additional three students received clothing — a total to date of 3,234 students whose lives have been changed by Assistance League efforts.
There were many firsts this year, Vice Chairman Sarah Foulds explained:
- Two new school districts were added — Deer Park and Texas City ISD.
- The Texas City ISD partnership focused on dressing the large student population identified as homeless. Dressing before the Aug. 28. start of school enabled 388 students to receive new clothing and shoes. Dr. Terri Burchfield noted, “100% of these students attended the first day of school.”
- Pre-packaged hygiene kits were purchased for a cost of $3.75 each. Each kit included a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, lotion, deodorant, and a comb and brush.
- United Way of Houston Project Undercover honored Operation School Bell with a donation of socks and underwear. These items were distributed to our partner Clear Creek ISD schools located in Harris County.
- Polo shirts were purchased for the students from Galveston ISD (739 shirts), and the Mosbacher Odyssey Academy Charter School Galveston (258 shirts) since the required shirts were not available at the local Target store.
- Odyssey Galveston requested socks and underwear for their young elementary students. A total of 240 pairs of socks and 362 pairs of underwear were delivered to that campus.
- Kohl’s Cash was used to purchase clothing, socks, underwear, and jackets on the wish list supplied by each school in Dickinson ISD. Sizes purchased ranged from 2T through 4XL.
- A donation of socks was received from the GEM students at Clear Creek ISD’s Weber Elementary as a thank you to Operation School Bell.
Almost the entire budget was spent on clothing and hygiene kits. Even with $26,700 in discounts received from Target and Kohl’s on the purchase of gift cards and over $28,000 in Kohl’s Cash, the total budget has been expended with one final dressing event held Dec. 5, at the Baybrook Kohl’s store.
The dressing will be continued only on an emergency needs basis. All emergency requests must be sent to [email protected]