Students in need shop till they drop with Operation School Bell

RALEIGH — Elementary school students and their families filled carts with boots, jackets and jeans at the North Hills Target Tuesday night.

The Assistance League of the Triangle Area invited 45 students that Green and Pleasant Union deemed were most in need to shop for clothing as a part of Operation School Bell. With $75 in hand, parents and their children can pick out new clothing the children can wear to school.

Jean Ehmke, who is coordinator of Operation School Bell, said giving the parents the opportunity to shop around for themselves allows them to purchase what is most important to the student’s needs, be it clothes, a coat or shoes to wear to school. She added the students enjoy picking clothes out for themselves.

“When the children feel better about what they are wearing, they feel more confident,” Ehmke said. “It gives us a feeling that we are helping out the community. We can see how happy the children are.”

Taylor Gray, who is a school counselor at Green Elementary, echoed Ehmke.

“It’s just the experience itself to shop for themselves,” Gray said. “They talk about it for the whole rest of the year. It’s awesome to see how happy they are.”

Le Meaka Moses attended Operation School Bell with her daughters, Ky’Sha Moses, Miracle Perkett and La’Janei Perkett. She shopped around picking up “flashy shoes and anything that is really girly.” One of her daughters said she was going to wear a shirt to school the next day that said “Always be great.”

“It’s a lot for people to have the kindness in their hearts,” Moses said. “They got to run around and pick up things. I was overwhelmed because Ms. Gray thought about me.”

The North Hills Target has hosted the event for four years. Target provides a volunteer cashier and labels sales racks. Tyler Wolf, a guest services assistant, has helped with the event for two years.

“We’re happy to help the community,” Wolf said. “I like seeing them smile and get what they want to get.”

When done shopping, the students picked up a goodie bag that included toothpaste and a toothbrush.

The Assistance League of the Triangle Area has plans to host another Operation School Bell for Dec. 8.

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