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Operation School Bell rings with success

September 23, 2009 - Christmas came early for 150 Oxford and Lake Orion elementary students in need who were treated to a free shopping spree last week courtesy of the Assistance League of Southeastern Michigan.

Thanks to the Rochester Hills-based nonprofit group's "Operation School Bell" program, each child received a brand new winter coat, knit-hat, gloves, underwear, socks, two shirts, jeans, a book to read, some school supplies and a hygiene kit.

Since 1995, more than 12,300 students have benefited from this program. This was the first time the Oxford and Lake Orion school districts participated.

The special K-5 students were selected by their respective school social workers and bused down to the Rochester Community Schools administration building on W. University Dr., which had a large room set up like a store complete with clothes racks and folks taking measurements.

"I love this store because it has cool stuff," said Robert Wolff-Dahlin, a first-grader at Lakeville Elementary. "I love the jackets and the toothpaste and the hats. I love everything!"

Each student was paired with a smiling Assistance League volunteer who helped them shop and fill up the large, new duffel bag each kid received upon entering the store.

"It's like trick-or-treating," said Betty Zych, a representative for the Assistance League.

To learn more about the Assistance League of Southeastern Michigan visit their website at or call (248) 656-0414.

To help fund its activities, the group runs an upscale resale shop called the ReSale Connection, located at 204 S. Main St. in Rochester.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader.
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