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 during the 2016-2017 school year we provided over 9,000 uniforms plus socks to 5,400 students in 39 low-income elementary schools in San Jose. Most of these students received two uniforms.
Assistance League of San Jose is always looking for ways to improve this program, and we will be doing so again next fall. As background, a uniform consists of a shirt and a pair of long pants. We have always given out white shirts, which are acceptable at all schools. In response to requests from some schools, next fall, in addition to white shirts, we will also be providing hunter green and navy blue shirts.