League gives assistance to students in need

The Assistance League of Visalia pledges they will hold five “Operation School Bell” events intended to help provide students in need with proper clothes

VISALIA – The Assistance League of Visalia will hold five Operation School Bell events throughout February and March to provide approximately 100 Tulare County children with new clothes. 

The events will be held at the JC Penny in Visalia, where Tulare County students who otherwise might not be able to afford new clothing will be given $100 in store credit, or $125 to those in 7th grade or higher, to be spent however they wish. 

“Many times there are kids that don’t want to come to school because they’re embarrassed of their clothes,” said Stephen Claypool, marketing officer for the Assistance League of Visalia. “At these events they can buy anything they want, and it’s all new clothing. We think it helps them understand they’re just as important as other folks.”

Claypool said that before the pandemic, the Assistance League would hold similar events at a much larger capacity.

“In a normal year, we would spend probably upwards of $70,000 and about 700 kids would be involved,” Claypool said.

This year, the Assistance League expects to help around 25 students at each of their Operation School Bell events. If a child who is selected has school-aged siblings, each of their siblings will also be able to participate. 

The Visalia chapter of the Assistance League is a nonprofit philanthropic group that aims to support community members through various programs. They offer volunteer opportunities as well as programs for seniors and children. 

“Our Operation School Bell program that clothes students began in 1998 when we became a chapter of the Assistance League,” said Margaret Meling, one of the Assistance League of Visalia’s co-founders. “It has evolved over the 24 years in our efforts to serve as many children as possible.”

The Operation School Bell events will be held at JCPenny and run from approximately 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the following dates: Feb. 23, Feb. 24, Mar. 8, Mar. 9, and Mar. 10.

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