‘They feel good about themselves’; Assistance League takes kids shopping for new school clothes

ST. GEORGE— In an effort to give children a little more of the confidence they need to succeed, the Assistance League of Southern Utah is providing nearly 1,000 children with new school clothes this year by funding nine shopping trips for kids who are in need in Washington County.

Arianna Godwin and her mom, Jennifer Godwin-Stockard shop for boots at the Assistance League of Southern Utah Operation School Bell shopping event, Hurricane, Utah, Oct. 9, 2018 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

The shopping trip, called “Operation School Bell,” is offered to children in elementary and middle schools. Elementary students are allowed $75 for new clothes and middle school students are allowed $100. The kids are free to choose whatever school clothing they like, including things like clothes, winter coats, underwear and shoes.

Children are referred to the program by school counselors who see that a child is in need.

“There are so many children that are in need,” marketing committee member Jackie Brown said. “I don’t think a lot of people realize how many children we have in the community that are in need of help.”

In addition to shopping money, kids receive a toothbrush and toothpaste. They are also given a knit or crochet hat, handmade by volunteers.

Arianna Godwin, 11, went shopping with her mother Jennifer Godwin-Stockard for “cute clothes” and winter wear, specifically a new pair of boots.

“I get cute clothes and I get to wear them and show them off,” Arianna Godwin said. “I am thankful.”

Jennifer Godwin-Stockard said since she doesn’t have to pay for winter clothes this year, she may be able to give her daughter a fun Christmas present that she wants rather than items that she needs like clothes.

“This is a great help, especially around this time when you’re spending lots of money on keeping warm,” Jennifer Godwin-Stockard said. “For the community to get together and do this for kids is great and it helps a lot.”

Skylar Carter, 6, holds a new shirt that she picked out at the Assistance League of Southern Utah Operation School Bell shopping event, Hurricane, Utah, Oct. 9, 2018 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

Last year, approximately 700 kids were able to go shopping. The students are able to shop with their families at Walmart for what they need. The clothes they pick out are taken to the Assistance League booth where volunteers purchase the items.

The Assistance League has already hosted four shopping events with five more to take place Oct. 16, 23, 25 and 30 in Hurricane, Bloomington and Washington City.

The Assistance League is a national nonprofit that offers assistance to low-income children and their families. It is a volunteer-based organization with 120 chapters, including the Assistance League of Southern Utah,which first began in 2008 and has since clothed over 5,000 children.

Each chapter provides assistance based on the specific needs of its community. In Southern Utah, it provides Operation School Bell shopping trips, community outreach programs and a literacy program that provides books to children who struggle with reading for their parents to read to them.

There are 9,000 children living in poverty in Southern Utah, according to the Assistance League of Southern Utah. In 2016, nearly 1,000 of the 31,000 students registered to attend school were homeless.

Many families are unable to afford new clothing for their children, who often make do with old, worn-out clothes. With bullying already an issue in schools, some children would rather stay home than go to school with worn-out clothes, marketing committee member Natalie Brown said.

“Kids go through so much pressure at school, the last thing they should be worrying about is being made fun of because of their clothes,” she said.

Providing kids with new clothes boosts their self-esteem so they can focus on school and doing well in classes. That benefits their education, which helps them break out of the cycle of poverty.

Children pick out new hats at the Assistance League of Southern Utah Operation School Bell shopping event, Hurricane, Utah, Oct. 9, 2018 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

Some of the kids are so excited after the event that they bring the clothes they bought to show to their school counselors, Jackie Brown said.

“They go to school, they have new clothes like other children have nice clothes and they do better in school when they feel good about themselves,” she said.

Funds for the program come from various grants and fundraisers throughout the year.

The Assistance League of Southern Utah has two upcoming fundraisers: Tea and Generosity” Nov. 8 and its annual Spring Benefit Feb. 9. It will also be holding an informational event Tuesday at the Xetava Gardens Cafe in Ivins for those interested in the program.

Money raised by the Assistance League of Southern Utah stays in the local community. Donations can be made online or by mail to Assistance League of Southern Utah, P.O. 910728, St. George.

Email: mshoup@stgnews.com

Twitter:  @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • stevenxfiles October 10, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    These people are real saints! Thank you and may God bless you!

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