Operation School Bell, Assistance League Santa Clarita’s initiative to buy new clothes for low-income school children, reached about 2,800 students this school year.
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The program allows children in need and their parents to shop for school clothes at local department stores, under the guidance of Assistance League volunteers.
And it has grown over the years. In 2011, the Assistance League helped 1,800 students, and 2,200 students in 2012.
Since 1991, AL has clothed more than 20,000 children in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Students in need are given a $100 voucher for either Kohl’s or Old Navy, where they can purchase clothes to wear to school.
The goal of the program is to help children feel confident about attending school, said Mel Johnson, who co-chaired the Operation School Bell 5K.
Assistance League also had a record number of runners come out for the 5K fundraiser, including 450 students from five junior high schools in the valley and a total of 761 participants.
Johnson was excited that students are giving back to their classmates in need, she said, and glad to see that school administrators and teachers support their program.
“The kids are paying it forward,” she said.
The needs of low-income families in the SCV are not widely publicized, Johnson said, but they still exist.
“We think in Santa Clarita we might not have that need, but we do,” she said.
The nonprofit organization is also wrapping up Project Prom, which provides low cost prom dresses, tuxedos, shoes and accessories to high school students identified by their schools as needing assistance.
Students who are on the free and reduced lunch program at school are given the opportunity to purchase one dress for $10 with valid high school identification, and students who need financial assistance can receive a voucher for free prom attire from their school’s counselor, district officials said.
Project Prom started in 2010 and has provided prom attire to more than 500 students since then.
“We have a number of students that unfortunately cannot afford to go to the prom,” said Gail Pinsker, spokeswoman for the William S. Hart Union High School District, in a previous interview. “We’re really happy the Assistance League is working to help make the dream of attending the prom a reality for many of our students who otherwise would not be able to attend.”
A collection drive has taken place the past few months at Assistance League Resale in Newhall to build up an inventory of prom gowns.
“We have such a generous community here and we’ve had a lot of women donating incredible formal gowns,” Pinsker said.
For more information about the Assistance League Santa Clarita and how to be a part of their efforts to help local school children, click here.
Melissa Lampert contributed to this report.
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Source: Santa Clarita News