Helping Students Focus and Attend School by Providing Proper Clothing

Assistance League of Norman, Oklahoma
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Each year, the Assistance League of Norman, Oklahoma, provides clothing for area school children in need. During the past four years, 742 children and teens have been helped thanks to the Astellas USA Foundation’s support. In 2017, Astellas USA Foundation supported the League’s Operation School Bell® program, granting funds to clothe 68 elementary students, giving each student a new coat, two new pairs of jeans, three new tops, five pairs of new socks, five pairs of new underwear, a grooming kit and a voucher for new shoes. In addition, 77 teens shopping at Kohl’s received new clothing of their choice. Astellas USA Foundation also provided funding for 151 coats for those students unable to attend Operation School Bell® in person. Forty eight percent of the children attending Norman Public Schools and 68 percent of the children attending Little Axe Public Schools qualify for free and reduced meals. Supplying school clothing to this target population eliminates one portion of the burden of survival for families struggling economically. Children properly dressed can focus their attention on learning and are more likely to attend school regularly.

Anecdotal evidence from counselors and teachers indicates children who participate in Operation School Bell® demonstrate increased peer acceptance, self-confidence, regular school attendance and better grades.

Sharon Heatly, Director of Guidance and Counseling for Norman Public Schools, recently commented, “These amazing volunteers provide a personal shopping experience for each student. A volunteer personally shops with each student and lets them select colors and styles that they like. The students try the clothes on to ensure the right fit. Some of our special needs students with physical challenges need modifications to their clothing. Assistance League members always do alterations to ensure each child has the perfect fit. This is the first experience for some students to go to a store-like setting and select brand new clothes. It is not uncommon to see tears of joy from students and sometimes the volunteers. This is a heart-felt mission for the Assistance League.”