Established in 1984, our flagship program, Operation School Bell, has provided new school clothing to nearly 100,000 children whose families cannot afford these necessary items. Children in need are identified by their school or social service agencies. Assistance League members personally help each child select clothing with the goal of improving school attendance, academic performance, and self-esteem.
Students, grades pre-k through elementary, receive two pairs of pants, a belt, five shirts, six pairs of underwear and socks, a jacket, a gift card for new shoes, and a grooming kit–essentially school clothing for a week. Clothing is purchased at wholesale with funds raised by Assistance League of Austin’s THRIFT HOUSE, grants, and generous donations from volunteers and the Austin community.
Middle and high schools that require uniforms are supplied a “uniform closet” at their school. OSB volunteers order and pack the clothes, and a volunteer liaison works with school personnel to set up and maintain the closet. Students are given clothes as needed from the closet. There are currently 13 Uniform Closet schools in Austin ISD and Manor ISD.
High school and non-uniform middle school students are given the opportunity to shop at a designated retail location in the Teen Outfitters Project. This program has proven to be very popular with the older students.
Above: Video by Advisory Board Member Kim Barnes
- Operation School Bell has grown from clothing 75 children its first year to more than 7,000 per school year
- Each child receives individual attention with the understanding that self-esteem is key to their success
- The new clothing gives entire families a boost
- Teen Outfitters Project takes older students to shop for school clothes
- Uniform clothing is provided to middle and high schools that require uniforms through the Uniform Closets
“OPERATION SCHOOL BELL gives our children hope, restores self-respect, brings them joy. Many of these children may never have known what new clothes and shoes were if it weren’t for School Bell. Words cannot express the looks on their faces when they receive these items. For this, we say thank you and express our sincerest appreciation to your wonderful organization. You do make a difference in children’s lives.”
Sylvia Del Tora, Parent Support Specialist
Operation School Bell frequently receives Thank You cards and banners after students visit us. Martin Middle School is no exception. We love hearing from the students.
Generation SERVE comes frequently to help assemble toiletry kits for students. Some students say they have never had their own toothbrush.
Here’s a Thank You note from Celeste, Jennifer and Jose.