Community: Dressing children well to do well

May 08, 2012|By Joyce Rudolph
  • Preparing clothing for Assistance League of Glendale's Operation School Bell are, from left, Patty Schermer, chairwoman; and Rae McCormick, dresser.
Preparing clothing for Assistance League of Glendale's… (Photo by Joyce Rudolph )

Assistance League of Glendale members provide school clothing for students of low-income families with the philosophy that they do better academically and socially if they are dressed as well as their peers.

The women's philanthropic organization began Operation School Bell in 1981. Students are referred to the program by their principal, nurse or teacher. Parents are asked to sign a consent form and optional photo release form.

During a school day, students are bused to the league's chapter house via school district transportation to be fitted for three school uniforms or three shirts or blouses and three pants, shorts or scooters, and given five pairs of underwear and socks. They also receive a gift card for Payless Shoe Store, a backpack, a health cache filled with toiletry items, and a book appropriate for their grade level.

Close to 800 children have been clothed this year, said chairwoman Patty Schermer. The students eligible are enrolled in the Glendale Unified School District lunch program in grades kindergarten through middle school, but members will provide for high school students if there is a special need.


The league's auxiliary groups help the project. Las Caritas provides the health caches, while the Assisteens, a group of teenage girls, purchases books that are presented to each student, along with the underwear and socks.

When Roseann Case was chairwoman of the project three years ago they were only fitting between 160 to 200 youngsters a year. A school nurse would bring only three students at a time. But Assistance League worked with then-Superintendent Michael Escalante to share district-contracted bus service with Clark Magnet School and now they are able to bring more children each day.

The children that come through for fittings rarely have new clothes; mostly they wear hand-me-downs from siblings, Case said.

“We've had kids come in without underwear,” she said. “The stitching of their clothes coming out. They are needy. When they try on a sweatshirt, they notice how soft and warm it is. Some of them don't have jackets.”

Being involved in this project makes her feel like she is doing something to help the needy, Case said.

To clothe close to 800, the league spends $50,000 a year, Case said. They raise funds by selling second-hand items donated to their thrift shop and at the annual Festival of Trees holiday luncheon, she added.

To become a member or for the thrift shop hours, visit

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