In 1958, a teacher in California noticed children from one large family never came to school all at once. She never saw all of them together. It turns out the children were taking turns wearing the few pieces of clothing the family had. The teacher, Ruth Ann Montgomery, decided she couldn't let a lack of clothing keep her students from getting an education. She turned to her friends at Assistance League and started what would become Operation School Bell.
In the 52 years since Miss Montgomery got involved, nearly 2 million children across the country have received new clothes, shoes, toiletries and school supplies. Charlotte's Assistance League held Operation School Bell this week. I was honored to be part of it once again.
They're smart over there – they get media folks involved so the cameras come out. But the real stars for these kids are the mascots and athletes. Rufus from the Bobcats was a big hit. I helped a girl named Alisa (on the left in this picture) and she must have hugged Rufus half a dozen times. Huge smiles.
Here's how it works. Underprivleged kids selected by school counselors get to shop in the AL store. No money's exchanged, but they do get to pick out jackets, pants, shirts, socks, toiletries, a book and other little prizes.
My favorite part is helping the kids pick out a jacket. You can tell it's often the first time they won't have to wear a hand-me-down and while the clothing is navy/white school uniform, the jackets are in bright colors the kids really like.
(Natalie Pasquarella from WSOC strikes a pose after helping a student pick out a new jacket.)
Next up for the Assistance League is their Baubles and Bags event on October 23rd. They need donations of handbags and jewelry and then they need people to come out and buy. Great cause, dedicated volunteers, needy kids. Ruth Ann Montgomery decided to do something more than 50 years ago. Let's keep her dream going and help these kids concentrate on learning.