over 100 years of taking care + giving back

operation school bellEven if some shoppers aren’t ready to give up their sunglasses and flip-flops, retailers have already plunged into their second most important shopping season. The period from mid-July to mid-September generates 16.1 percent of retailers’ annual sales, compared to 28.1 percent for the Christmas and December holidays, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers in New York. Americans will collectively shell out $39 billion for back-to-school clothes, shoes, electronics, books and other supplies, about 3 percent more than last year.

What happens to the kids in need who do not have the opportunity to participate in a back-to-school shopping spree? This is where Operation School Bell comes in. Nearly fifty years ago as a one-woman effort to provide clothing to disadvantaged children; it is now the signature national philanthropic program for Assistance League. Operation School Bell has provided new clothing, including jackets and shoes, to over one million school children nationwide. How is this possible? Volunteers!! Fitting each child and helping them select clothing; for many children these are the first clothes that belong solely to them.

This philanthropy doesn’t stop there, The national Operation School Bell Award is given to honor those who, through significant financial, in-kind service, hands-on or spiritual support, have had a direct, powerful and positive effect on Operation School Bell in a chapter’s community and thus warrant recognition from the national organization. The 2009 recipient was Irvine Kohl’s Store 598.

For more information on Operation School Bell, please visit: http://irvine.assistanceleague.org

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operation school bell kick-off

Assisteen Nasarin who, with the help of another Assisteen, Sarah, have been working hard to create an inviting background to promote our kick-off of Operation School Bell.

Beginning August 22, ALI encourages all shoppers to become local heroes by contributing extra dollars with their regular Thrift Shop purchase.  Customers can make their mark by writing their name on a paper doll which will then be pinned to a ribbon behind the register for immediate recognition.  100% of each donation will be used to purchase clothing, school supplies and a hygiene kit for kids at risk from grades K – 10 attending the Irvine Unified School District.

volunteer spotlight: meet Renae

Renae is a retired teacher, part-time gardener, mother, grandmother, wife of 40 years and an avid bike rider. Joining the Assistance League of Irvine in 2009, Renea shares her experiences as a Team Leader at the Thrift Shop, School Liaison and Committee Member for Operation School Bell.

WHEN AND HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH ALI?
I was a member of the Garden Grove Assistance League Auxiliary and when I retired I had many work clothes to donate. I was going to take them to the Assistance League Thrift Shop in Garden Grove and then realized there must be an Assistance League/Thrift Shop here in Irvine. I found it, went by the Thrift Shop and ran into some people I knew. I joined in January of 2009 (a great decision!)

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE EXPERIENCE WITH ALI?
My best experience in ALI is working on Operation School Bell. I love the look on the kids faces when they are able to buy new clothes — they are so thankful and I even get a few hugs. I also love working with such a talented group of women — they are truly amazing.

WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF ASSISTANCE LEAGUE OF IRVINE. HOW DO YOU FEEL ALI AFFECTS THE COMMUNITY?
ALI makes a tremendous difference in the community through the Thrift Shop and most importantly what we can do for children as a result of the money we earn from the Thrift Shop. I’m proud to be a part of such a caring group.

Renae, thank you for your support and volunteerism to improve lives in our community.