Ruth Montgomery

Ruth Ann Montgomery lived from 1921 -2011. In the early 1950’s, she was a Jr High School teacher in North Hollywood, and saw a contrast in her school between parents who were movie stars and others who were migrant farm workers. Many of the students did not have proper school attire.

In 1954, she and 22 women began collecting, sorting and laundering used clothing in a garage. In 1956, they called themselves the Volunteer Service Guild. One of the husbands was a WWII vet and was used to the word “operation”. They called their campaign “Operation School Bell” (OSB).

By Spring 1957, and after much research into non-profits, Ruth Ann chose to merge Volunteer Service Guild with the National Assistance League and it became the 23rd chapter of the Assistance League, then and now called the Assistance League of Bakersfield. Procedures of Operation School Bell were shared with other Assistance League chapters.

In 1968 a workshop was held at the National Convention in Denver.

In the early 1990’s, Assistance League of San Jose members had children who were in private school who wore uniforms.
Around 1992, San Jose Public Schools began mandating uniforms and AL of San Jose members saw the need to help students in the community who couldn’t afford them. Lynda Tomasello wanted to start by supplying clothes, but, with a lot going on and a lot to do, AL of San Jose began Operation School Bell officially when Elaine Kitrosser was president with a budget of $1500 just from the chapter. Jackie Linehan was president when uniforms were officially furnished and they began by servicing 50 students at Carson Elementary. It grew very quickly to other schools and AL of San Jose adopted and approved OSB in 1994. (click to expand the news article image)

OSB Team - historical photo unknown date

In 1996, AL of San Jose started writing grants. In July 1997, the National Board voted to make Operation School Bell a national program. The name and logo were trademarked. It is the signature program of Assistance League.

In July 2000-2001, AL of San Jose received $15,000 from proceeds from Silicon Valley Charity Ball and allocated it for OSB.

In 2003, The Sharks Foundation granted AL of San Jose $12,500 and allocated it for OSB.

New Clipping about OSB circa 1990
OSB measuring August 1989
Women with OSB sign circa 1990s

ALSJ Winners of Junior League AwardIn 2018, AL of San Jose received a Commendation Award from the City of San Jose for 25 years of providing uniforms to local schools. (click to expand the Commendation image)

In 2019, AL of San Jose was awarded the Crystal Bowl Award from the Junior League of San Jose for OSB.

From 1999-2001 1,820 students were supplied uniforms.

During the 2021-22 school year, Assistance League of San Jose distributed over 35,500 items of clothing to 39 schools, a pre-school and a foster youth program including school uniforms. Each student got 2 shirts and 1 pair of pants, sweatshirts, socks and underwear.

City of San Jose Commendation for OSB

FUN FACT: Lands’ End made a contribution in 2003 and mentioned OSB and its mission in their holiday card.

Unloading Pallets of Uniforms
Bagging Uniforms
Delivering Uniforms to Horace Mann Elementary
Lyndale Uniform StorageLyndale Uniform Storage