Operation School Bell® – Excerpts from the Desert Sun Article
Our local newspaper, the Desert Sun, recently printed an opinion piece about our chapter’s Operation School Bell® program and how it benefits our local community. Portions of that article appear below. We are proud of our important work in the Coachella Valley and plan to continue to grow as the needs increase.
For more than a decade there has been a debate: Is there any benefit to requiring kids to wear uniforms in our nation’s schools? One side suggests that uniforms are beneficial in promoting school unity and a sense of belonging. Others counter, that requiring uniforms has no positive effect and may even be detrimental.
Our Coachella Valley schools’ requirements are all over the place. Some schools have “T-shirt Friday” when all the children wear their school colors and logos. Others may suggest t-shirts be worn 3 days a week, some every day. But the majority of our public schools expect their students to have and wear these shirts. This can create a financial struggle to the parents of these students.
This is where Assistance League® Coachella Valley fits into the picture. This school year, over 5,000+ elementary school children received their t-shirts through the League’s Operation School Bell® program. Working directly with all three school districts this all-volunteer nonprofit group funds, procures, organizes, and delivers personalized packages of essentials to these children who the schools deem as needing the community’s help.
Participating students receive 3 shirts, a pair of shoes, 6 pairs of socks, 6 pairs of underwear, and hygiene supplies. Additional clothing and hygiene supplies are purchased for inventory, enabling school administrators to distribute items throughout the school year as needs arise.
The program is not about whether matching t-shirts do, or don’t, make a difference in how kids learn. It is about supplying fundamental necessities so each child can attend school feeling like they “fit in” with the other students.
Who are these children? In the Desert Sands School District alone, this year there were 100 foster children, 350 homeless kids and 150 refugees and these numbers are growing. The chapter will clothe up to 5,000 children this fall. Of the schools served, the student population is predominately Hispanic (74-96%) and low-income (85%).
The Assistance League receives scores of notes and crayon drawings full of thanks from both children and parents.
Roberto in 4th grade says, “I wanted to thank the Assistance Leave [sic] for the school uniforms they provided for me and my brother” and under a yellow happy face he says” You made us happy!” A father wrote “My family and I are very greatfull [sic] of your Support. With the school uniforms, it gives us a little releaf [sic] knowing our son has the appropriate uniforms to attend school.”
We also hear from teachers who tell their own stories: One told of dealing with a child who soiled the only shirt he had. She removed him from the room, give him a brand-new shirt and sheltered him from teasing. These small efforts make a huge difference.
The research mentioned above found reason to believe that class attendance and attention goes up in schools where standardized clothing is available. It would seem to make sense; is it not better to try something positive and enhance the feeling of self-worth in our children? Assistance League Coachella Valley is doing that in a big way.