OPERATION SCHOOL BELL®
Through 2022, Operation School Bell, Assistance League of Colorado Springs, has clothed over 100,000 students. During the 2021-2022 school year, Operation School Bell provided over 700 clothing items for elementary aged students, 655 hoodies and 40 backpacks for middle and high school aged students, and 1100 Famous Footwear gift cards for youth in need in El Paso County.
The program works closely with counselors/liaisons in schools where there is a high need of assistance based on Federal Guidelines derived from free and reduced lunch numbers. Clothing and gift cards are given to designated school personnel and then distributed as needed within their school population. Operation School Bell has been very fortunate to partner with Pikes Peak United Way to assist in receiving additional coats for children. For the second year, Widefield High School is again holding a coat and blanket drive for helping us keep youth warm.
- In 1968-1969, fifteen Colorado Springs women, wishing to help disadvantaged schoolchildren, clothed 17 children at a cost of $7.50 per child for a total of $127.50. This was the first local participation in Operation School Bell, a program of National Assistance League.
- Initially Operation School Bell and the Bargain Box Thrift Store were located at 509 S. Tejon. In 1974 when that building was torn down, the Bargain Box was moved to 118 S. Tejon and Operation School Bell was moved to a house on Uintah Street owned by School District 11, where it stayed for nine years.
- New clothing was not always provided. Some used clothing came from the Bargain Box.
- In 1975 Assistance League of Colorado Springs rented, and then purchased, the building at 211 E. Costilla for the Bargain Box. After expansion of the building, Operation School Bell was moved there in 1983, and stayed until 2013.
- Assistance League of Colorado Springs bought and stored new school clothing for Operation School Bell. Children were bused to the Costilla Street building where they selected clothes they liked (pants, shirts, jacket, hat, gloves, underwear and socks), as well as an age-appropriate book, school supplies and a hygiene kit. This process resulted in inventory overages and shortages of critical clothing supplies.
- In the fall of 2013, the Chapter began a trial year of partnering with a retail facility to clothe students in-store. This allowed clothing appointments to be held after school hours and on weekends, thus ensuring that students did not miss valuable school time. It also allowed parents to become more active in the clothing selection process. A total of 2,721 students were clothed in a three and a half week period during the fall of 2016. Elementary school students were allotted $65.00 per student, middle school students were allotted $75.00, and high school students received $90.00. One hundred and seventy-one schools in El Paso County were served. Hygiene kits were also given to each participating student.
- During the 2022-2023 school, 2,203 Famous Footwear cards and 3,148 pieces of clothing were distributed to students in need. In addition, 13 emergency students were served. Operation School Bell served 71 schools in the Pikes Peak region with a budget of $153,100.