Operation School Bell is an ongoing mission to outfit kids with clothes and school supplies. Glendale Unified School District officials and league organizers held a similar event earlier this school year, and estimate they will supply more than 400 children by mid-November, said Katherine Thorossian, assistant superintendent for instructional services.
Organizers were protective of the students’ identities given their economic circumstances and the low-key nature of the event, and allowed only limited media access.
Some of the recent beneficiaries have had to share shoes between siblings, or go days without changing their clothes, volunteers said.
“So many of our programs are about helping students one way or another,” Lina Harper, a volunteer and former Glendale Unified School Board member said. “Some kids haven’t been able to attend school, until they get new clothes.”
Kiwanis club members donated $1,000 to bus students to the Assistance League building on Harvard Street, organizers said. In previous years, volunteers would pick up students by the carload and carpool to and from the building.
Assistance League President Jean Peacock played piano and read stories to children as they waited their turn to try on clothes. After they received their outfits, the students picked two books from an array of titles like the “Diary of Anne Frank,” “Charlotte’s Web,” Nancy Drew and the Magic School Bus. Around them, thank you notes from last year’s giveaways dotted the walls.
School uniforms were acquired from a clearinghouse in downtown Los Angeles. Students were also given a $15 voucher to Payless Shoe Stores. Backpacks were valued at $40, but the Assistance League purchased them for $6, said Roseann Case, chairwoman of Operation School Bell.
“That tells you something about the market,” she said.
Students were also given a sweat shirt, underwear, blouses, shorts and other clothing. Case said the Assistance League would do whatever it takes to help underprivileged youngsters.
“It’s import to be helping needy children because there are a lot of them in Glendale,” she said. “We get calls from all over, and we work with the homeless as much as we can.”