Operation School Bell Take Care of the Necessities

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Thousands of needy school children across Washoe County are sent to school in the dead of winter without a warm coat - some without socks, and others have only sandles to wear during a snowstorm.

But many of those kids are getting much needed winter clothes through "Operation School Bell," a project of the Assistance League of Reno-Sparks.

Every week from August through February, 100 less-fortunate elementary school children are brought to the Assistance League of Reno-Sparks on Vassar Street.

"We have kids that come in a lot - who don't have socks in the winter time," says Denise Cornell, chairman of the program.

Volunteers outfit these kids from head to toe with a warm coat, two pairs of jeans, two shirts, shoes, six pairs of socks and, six pair of underwear. Girls are given a hair accessory and boys get a belt.

All of these clothes are new, paid for by grant money, local donations, and wise spending.

Buyer Alice Baldwin begins shopping for thousands of pieces of clothing in January. "You have to do that, because the manufacturers are making the clothing and they stop making things like jackets by June," she says.

It takes Alice and her crew all summer to get every article of clothing organized.

"We have to unpack everything and we have to retag for our sizing. And then, we're ready to go by August 20th," Baldwin says.

"Once the children have a good wardrobe, their whole personality changes at school. They're more outgoing, they're more willing to interact and they're able to study. They're not so concentrated on how they feel about themselves".

And - Alice says all the months of hard work really pays off.

"They come in here, they don't know what they're going to get into. And by the time they leave, those happy smiles are just all worth it".

In all, Operation School Bell outfits 2,500 local elementary school kids. The children are referred by teachers, principals and counselors.

If you'd like to make a cash donation to the Assistance League of Reno-Sparks . . . call 329-1584.