Two Assistance League members help a student select school clothes.
Assistance League members help a student select school clothes. Credit: Courtesy photo

For many families in the community, outfitting children with new clothing and school supplies is a financial hardship. That’s where the Assistance League’s Operation School Bell can help.

Operation School Bell, the nonprofit’s annual program, provides free clothing and school supplies, all purchased new from local stores and online suppliers.

This year, 600 children from kindergarten through sixth grade are slated to be outfitted by the Assistance League this autumn.

Qualified students are served through referrals from administrators in 15 elementary schools in Carpinteria, Hope and Santa Barbara districts.

Each student picks out three new school outfits or uniforms, a zippered jacket, six pairs of underwear and socks, a backpack, a hygiene kit, school supplies and a chapter book. The items are purchased in bulk by the Assistance League.

Recently, a group of Franklin School students waited to begin their shopping. Sabrina, who is starting fourth grade next week, was on the lookout for leggings and a skirt, in addition to a school uniform.

Seated with her was Yoali, a kindergartener, who also needed a uniform, but perhaps feeling the tug to all things Barbie, hoped to find a pink skirt in her size.

Assistance League volunteers helped the students select clothing in their sizes and color preferences. The students could try on their selections in changing rooms.

“We want the kids to be comfortable and really pleased with their choices. They get to participate in deciding what they take home,” said Cindy Becker, chair of the Operation School Bell committee.

Older students may participate in Teen School Bell, available to qualified junior high and high school students, accompanied on shopping trips at local stores by Assistance League volunteers.

The Assistance League Thrift Shop, at 1259 Veronica Springs Road, is the major source of funding for league programs. For more, visit