00:00 AM - November 14, 2016
On a recent brisk, clear, October Saturday morning, 80 students shopped for warm, comfortable, school appropriate clothing at the El Dorado Hills Target. Parents and grandparents were very appreciative of Operation School Bell – a program made possible by the Assistance League of Sierra Foothills. One grandmother brought both of her elementary school grandchildren who were able to choose coats for the upcoming winter season. “Programs like this make such a difference in the lives of these children,” she explained. “We are thankful for this opportunity, and it’s important that people know what it means to our family.”
In partnership with the El Dorado County Office of Education (EDCOE) and school districts, Operation School Bell identifies families who qualify and would benefit from assistance. The program organizes shopping days at several locations throughout El Dorado County, including K-Mart in Placerville and South Lake Tahoe. Students and families select clothing items that cost up to $100. When they check out, families only have to pay the balance if the total exceeds the allotted amount. Upon checking out, students also receive a new book donated by First Books.
Assistance League volunteers work with families throughout the event to help track costs. School counselors and representatives also volunteer their time to ensure that families make it to the event. Occasionally, school representatives help transport the children if parents or guardians are unavailable. This year, 640 students were able to participate in the program.
“We are thankful to the Assistance League of Sierra Foothills for Operation School Bell and the commitment they exemplify to our children,” Dr. Ed Manansala, El Dorado County Superintendent of Schools, expressed. “Their volunteers demonstrate meaningful support to a vulnerable student population with great potential.”
The Assistance League of Sierra Foothills has grown to 109 members since its inception in 2008. This volunteer-driven organization is bound by a strong central mission to help people in need achieve a better quality of life. Volunteers live in the communities they serve, and all monies raised are locally spent. Last year, members contributed more than 13,700 volunteer hours and raised more than $132,800 through fundraising, private donations, grants, and membership revenue.
The organization has several programs that benefit the County’s youngest residents. Another signature program is Sports Locker which distributes new sports equipment and provides scholarships for registration fees. The program helps children develop a positive self-image through organized youth sports. In 2015-2016, 120 children participated. For more information about the Assistance League of Sierra Foothills, visit www.sierrafoothills.assistanceleague.org
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