Last spring I talked about Assistance League and why it’s important to me. This week we finished up another fall season of Operation School Bell (OSB), Assistance League’s major project that clothes kids in our community who might otherwise fall through the cracks. In the past 3 months we clothed over 1300 and still have another 200 kids coming to OSB in January. Serving these precious souls is both humbling and rewarding. The women who become “personal shoppers” for the day are literally on their knees serving these children.
Here are just a few of the stories that came out of OSB this year.
Today at OSB Becky dressed a little girl who had some disabilities, including being blind! Becky came into the back work room looking for clothing items with TEXTURE! It was amazing to see this precious child. She was SO animated, and at times very sassy about her clothing choices. She loved our tops, jeans and sweatpants with BLING. She chose some with rhinestone butterflies, etc.
I had always known that our kids would love our clothing selections, but this angel put a whole new perspective on things. She needed to FEEL her items, and wanted to be able to know what cute top or jeans that she was choosing for the day.
It was one of those days that you won’t forget!
The following is a note sent from one of the school counselors:
I just wanted to publicly thank you guys for making my last trip so special. I took a 4 year old that doesn’t speak much English. I had her sister with us as well, in hopes that she could translate for me. This little girl began to cry when we walked in because she was so scared. I was doing the best I could be assuring her, in English, that this would be fun and we would help her pick new clothes.
Mitzi appeared and immediately began speaking Spanish to this little girl. WHAT A RELIEF!!!! The girl quit crying and then took her hand. Mitzi was great with my little friend. She left happy and had a lot of new clothes to take home. Not only was your organization a blessing to this family, but it was so nice to see this little girl’s worries be put to ease with a Spanish speaking guide.
One day a member told me that she just helped a little boy and said the thing he was most excited to receive that day was underwear. He was so happy to have new underwear and asked if he could have more than his allotted 5 pair. She gave him 10. He then asked if he could go ahead and put a pair on because he didn’t have any that day. He went back to school that day wearing new underwear because he didn’t have any to begin with. Hold the phone and read that again. He didn’t have any underwear.
We serve elementary through high school age children and sometimes the high school kids can be a tough sell. They are often quiet, down cast eyes and shy. Unlike the elementary age children who still may maintain a sense of innocence to their situation, high school kids understand why they are there. They know their parents can’t afford new stuff and that the school counselor has brought them to OSB because they are poor. They are embarrassed and feel like they are taking a hand out. One day I had a high school senior who wouldn’t say much and dutifully followed my orders and tried on everything I handed him. I wondered if he was ever going to crack a smile. By the end of our 45 minutes together he was finally talking about books he liked to read and he showed me a beautiful smile. He went home with a bag stuffed with new clothes and I went home with a full heart.
This is what Jesus was talking about when he said “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited in, I needed clothes and you clothed me.” These are children of God and deserve to be treated as such. “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.”
Who are we to withhold our gifts and talents? To withhold the love of God? “If I have not love I am but a resounding gong.” These women are on their knees, putting away their clattering gongs for the day and handing out love. No strings, or tags, attached.