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Operation School Bell gives C.O. students new clothes


Do you remember shopping for new school shoes, or bringing home a new winter coat? Deciding on your outfit for the first day of school? Thousands of students in Deschutes County have never had this traditional back-to-school experience. In fact, many of them have never shopped for new clothes or shoes, or owned clothes that fit. They wear hand-me-downs or share shoes and coats with a sibling.

As it has for the last 25 years, this fall Assistance League ® of Bend will provide vulnerable children in Deschutes County with new school clothes through Operation School Bell ® .

Operation School Bell is the signature program of Assistance League, which partners with local retailers to set up shopping trips for needy children, from kindergarten through high school. The students are referred by the local Family Access Network. Assistance League’s all-volunteer members and many nonmember community volunteers act as “personal shoppers,” helping children and families select clothing and stay within their assigned budget.

Assistance League of Bend is recruiting community volunteers to staff Operation School Bell shopping days. Students from Redmond and Sisters will shop at the Redmond Walmart September 12-23. Bend and La Pine students will shop at the Bend Target September 26-October 24.

According to the Oregon Department of Education, one in five children in Deschutes County live in poverty. Surveys show that children go to school with confidence and self-esteem when wearing new clothing they have chosen for themselves. Attendance improves and bullying decreases.

Last year, nearly 1,800 students received school clothes through Operation School Bell. The goal for the 2018-19 school year is to dress 2,000 children.

To volunteer, send an email to, or call 541-389-2075. To make a monetary contribution, visit the Assistance League of Bend website, Operation School Bell is funded through grants, private donations, and Assistance League fundraising events. All proceeds stay in Deschutes County.

Assistance League of Bend is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization making a difference in the lives of children and adults dealing with poverty, homelessness, and cancer in Deschutes County. Last year, Assistance League of Bend volunteers returned $260,000 to the community, touched the lives of 5,600 people in the community, and volunteered 18,600 hours. Members serve the community through several philanthropic programs in addition to Operation School Bell, some of which include, memory books for foster children, personal care items for low-income seniors, and handmade hats for cancer patients and the homeless. The organization will celebrate its 25th anniversary at its November 3rd Gala.

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