NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Operation School Bell has turned a new leaf with the new school year to make sure local students have clean clothes and supplies to be successful.
According to a survey that was done earlier this year, one in five students doesn’t have access to clean clothes which makes it more likely to miss school. Kids who miss school are seven times more likely to drop out.
Operation School Bell (OSB) is a project through the Assistance League of Greater Wilmington. It was formed in 2008, but after Hurricane Florence, the women of the Assistance League saw a need and decided to change how the project was done.
“Florence kind of taught us a few lessons because a lot of our children, whose names we had gotten, were displaced and moved to different schools so we decided to revamp our program and reach out to different children," said Kathy Bassett, the chairman for OSB.
The project provides cabinets for 22 schools in New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender Counties. The Assistance League then fills those cabinets up with clothes, hygiene supplies, and other materials that a student may need, but doesn’t get from home.
“Say they didn’t have their gym suit on the day they needed it or some schools have spirit days, and then children who don’t have the shirt or sweatshirt that goes with it we can provide that for them so they feel part of the community of the school," said Linda Scanlon with OSB.
OSB uses the money from the Assistance League of Greater Wilmington Thrift Shop to purchase the items for the cabinet. The social worker at the school then decides who gets the supplies from the cabinet.
“There are many children that don’t have the option of having clean clothing every day," said Susan Milholland with OSB. "There are many children that come to school that aren’t even wearing a pair of underwear so we can provide this for them.”
The closets are filled up four times a year to go along with the corresponding season.
To learn more about OSB or the Assistance League of Greater Wilmington, visit their website.