Jan 17, 2013 8:26 PM by Annie Snead

Operation School Bell Helping Clothe Children

A story that has an emotional impact for many of us: helping to keep children safe in the cold winter months.
Some of us may take for granted the ability to buy a brand new coat, but plenty of kids in our area don't have that luxury.
That's where the non-profit "Assistance League" comes in.

The league works to change that, by giving thousands of children in need new clothes every year.

"The children are always so excited when they get all their new clothes and feel so good about," said Alleen McWilliams.

McWilliams and other volunteers give away a new winter jacket, jeans, sweatpants, tops and other items to thousands of children in the Pikes Peak area.
"One little girl went out saying I just love this store," she said.

"Operation School Bell" not only provides new clothes, but it gives kids the opportunity to shop and pick out clothes on their own; a whole new experience for some.

"Some of the children have never had new clothing and so it is so much fun for them to come in and go down the racks of clothes," said McWilliams.

She and the other Assistance League volunteers, like Carolyn Houston, love to see the looks on their faces and how happy it makes them.

"I'm a former teacher, I've experienced children that need help in my classroom and it's just wonderful to be able to provide new clothes for them to make them feel good," said Houston.
McWilliams said all the money from their thrift store goes towards buying new clothes, so you can donate used items to be sold there.
Children are selected through their school and school counselors and demand is so great, there's a waiting list.
Helping the boys and girls is the main reason McWilliams keeps volunteering after more than 20 years.
"A photographer who was taking her picture said how do you feel and she said I'm so happy because now the other children won't tease me. I'll have clothes like everybody else," McWilliams said.

This Saturday from 10am to 2pm just show up at American Furniture Warehouse, either in Pueblo or Colorado Springs and bring a new children's book or new children's PJ's to donate.
We're doing this as part of News 5's "Your Family Care's" commitment to the community.


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