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Assistance League helps needy youngsters with school clothes

Posted: November 6, 2013 5:57 p.m.
Updated: November 6, 2013 5:57 p.m.

Assistance League member Melanie Cotterell puts a wristband on first grader Azul Tovar's wrist as her sisters, Maria Pelayo, Karla Tovar and Mia Tovar wait to be checked in at Khol's department store on Wednesday. Photo by Charlie Kaijo.

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SANTA CLARITA - It wasn’t quite Christmas in July, but thanks to the local Assistance League the holiday spirit came early for thousands of Santa Clarita Valley students this year.

About 3,000 local children took part this year in Operation School Bell, an annual event meant to help families with their children’s school wardrobes.

“Our mission is to help families in need in the Santa Clarita Valley,” said Diane Spurney, a public relations chairwoman for the local arm of the Assistance League. “Events like this help us to do that.”

The volunteers of Assistance League Santa Clarita have sponsored Operation School Bell for about 20 years.

“The purpose of the event is to give back to the community and help people who are less fortunate,” said Gloria Regan, president of Assistance League Santa Clarita.

For the past several years, the league partnered with the Kohl’s retail store in Valencia to offer participating kids a shopping spree for new school clothes.

Events were held beginning Sept. 10 and continued through Oct. 30.

One of the children participating in the final Operation School Bell was 11-year-old Grayson, a student at Skyblue Mesa Elementary School who attended along with his mother, Sandi Portner.

“It’s very helpful as a single mom,” Portner said of the Assistance League help. “And it’s nice that he can come and pick what he wants.”

And what was Grayson looking forward to getting?

“I want some jeans,” he said.

Kohl’s gives a discount for clothing purchased during the event, according to Janie Miller, an assistant manager of the Valencia store.

“Kohl’s really enjoys the community aspect of it,” Miller said. “It’s a great way for us to help out our local families.”

Children in elementary school and middle school were able to purchase clothing during Operation School Bell, according to Spurney and Diann Diangelous, another public relations chairwoman for the event.

Money for the shopping comes from the Assistance League, largely from proceeds of the group’s resale shop in Newhall.

Participants put a diverse collection of items in their carts and bags, but the reaction for many when they finished shopping Oct. 30 was the same: a simple “thank you.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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