Assistance League members personally help students select clothing and other school items through Operation School Bell (Courtesy photo)

For Santa Barbara families, the end of summer means shopping for school clothes, but for many families in the community, that is not possible. Enter Operation School Bell, the Assistance League of Santa Barbara’s annual program, which provides clothing and school supplies for children in need.

Assistance League members are busy buying items from local stores, stocking shelves onsite, and volunteering to personally help each child select clothing with the goal of improving school attendance, academic performance, and self-esteem.

Each student receives three new school outfits or uniforms, a zippered jacket, six pairs of underwear and socks, a colorful backpack, school supplies, hygiene kit, and a chapter book. The items are bought in bulk with the money made from the league’s thrift shop.

Qualified students are served through referrals from personnel in 19 schools of the Santa Barbara, Hope and Carpinteria school districts. In addition, Las Aletas, an auxiliary branch of Assistance League, serves 800 students from 10 schools in the Goleta School district.

In 2007, an outreach program with the Santa Maria School District was added, which includes fitting more than 400 more students from 13 schools in the Santa Maria-Guadalupe School District. Teen School Bell serves some 180 junior high and senior high students.

Assistance League of Santa Barbara serves the unique needs and challenges of the local community. Along with its auxiliaries, Las Aletas and Assisteens, the Assistance League of Santa Barbara’s 391 members volunteer some 50,000 hours a year.

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

— Marlene Carlyle for Assistance League of Santa Barbara.