Established 1994

Operation School Bell® is the signature philanthropic program of Assistance League. San Jose’s Operation School Bell began in 1993 with a very small budget of $1500 that allowed us to fit 50 children at one school with uniforms. Halfway through the year, the program received a donation of $1500 from an anonymous donor. With that amount we went back to the school and gave each child either a school jumper or a pair of pants.

The second year we were able to budget for, and furnish uniforms for 250 students in three schools. Each year the program has grown and now we have a budget of $100,000 and were able to provide 8,000 uniforms plus socks to over 4,000 students in 39 schools. In the 2015-2016 school year, an additional $40,000 was added to our budget to provide 2,600 sweatshirts to 23 schools. In 2015 and 2016, a TJ Maxx gift card grant from the TJX Foundation allowed us to provide 350 jackets to six schools.

Every member of our chapter is required to participate in Operation School Bell and there are many different options open to everyone, from sorting and bagging uniforms to delivery of the uniforms to the schools we serve.

After members have sorted more than 8,500 uniforms by size and bagged a pair of pants and a shirt in each bag, the packaged uniforms are stored at a local school. After Assistance League members measure the students, they will return to the storage room to collect and deliver the new uniforms to the designated school. Each student is measured to ensure a good fit.

For parent Dinora Nieves, Operation School Bell is heaven-sent. Her son Saul, 7, received a free uniform through the program. Saul, a second-grader, stands ramrod straight in his navy slacks and his spotless white polo. He says it makes him happy to wear his uniform.

“As a teacher, I saw the end result to the uniform program and I wanted to be part of that.”

–Nada Joy Gleason