Monday, January 23, 2017

Story of Giving from Stephanie Roberts on Behalf of Assistance League of Pomona Valley

Operation School Bell®, Assistance League® of Pomona Valley October delivery day finally arrived. Preparation had been underway for weeks to order and receive clothing, then fold and put on shelves or hang up on racks. It was Operation School Bell Delivery Day. Assistance League of Pomona Valley initiated their program in 1999 and joined many other chapters of this special charitable organization called National Assistance League. The volunteers work hard in this organization and see what it has done for the local communities. Pomona Valley chapter provides at least five of these shopping days each school year and help individual families as the need arises, helping about 1,200 children each year. This particular day was a very wet one, not unlike what we have been experiencing as of late. The usual clients came in. Some with just mom or dad, some brought their kids. Shopping was a new experience for most of these children. They delighted in picking out their tops. Each child had their own opinion as to what was just right for them. Some girls would want 5 pink tops and moms would be doing some ‘back seat shopping’ and advising them as to what they needed. By the time they finished with their new socks and underwear their smiles were ear to ear. The boys liked to look for their 5 t-shirts with sports insignias or Spiderman or Laker colors or just their favorite color. It was all there for them to select the perfect item for maybe the first time in their young lives. The families would leave not only content but feeling that someone cared for them. Their children could now go to school and fit in. They could raise their hands in answer to questions and not have rips and tears under their arms. They could take their shoes off and not have holes in their socks. They could wear their new underwear that many had never owned before. They could feel comfortable in their own skin. They could receive compliments on their cute sweatshirts or patterned leggings. They could fit in with their new jeans. And the members and volunteers felt like they had helped in some small way to make the world a better place. But this was an October of a few years ago, and there was more to come that day. The volunteers were tired. It was almost 4 o’clock and time to close the doors. A woman appeared at the open door with her 2 sons. She was panicked she was not going to be able to get clothing for her sons. She was encouraged to come on in and go shopping. The family was checked in and the 2 boys had their own personal shoppers. The members were delighted to help these two young people that were out of breath from running. The mom waited at the counter just watching them shop. This particular delivery day there were some shoes in stock. But they would not take off their shoes. One volunteer finally convinced them, finding a hole where the sole of the shoe should be. The socks were soaked. New socks were immediately given to the boys. They did not want to wear them. They did not want to ruin their new socks. An extra pack was given to each and explained that they would also be taking home detergent so they could wash the ones that were soiled. In the meantime, at the check out counter, the mother asked if there was any place that could help out at Christmas time. Their lives had been so disrupted having escaped from an abusive relationship and she wanted some continuity in their lives. Fortunately, “Act of Giving” is a special delivery for Operation School Bell in December. She was told they would be included that day. The member at the desk realized that water was running off the counter. The mother was wearing a mohair sweater that was dripping wet. This old sweater had seen better days. Mom was very slender and was finally convinced to pick some clothing from the gently used clothes that hung close by. She was elegant in her new sweatshirt and jacket and so thankful for what they had been given that day. With umbrellas and all their new garments, they departed. The boys with smiles, the mom with tears in her eyes. December came, and as promised, her family was included in this delivery too. Two handsome boys, wearing clothes they had picked in October came down the stairs. But what the volunteers saw was this beautiful woman, in clothes that had been given to her. She was different. Her head was held high, her smile was bright. She shared that she had found a job. But what was most important to her was to relate that that October day, she was unraveled. She did not know if she could make it. But the volunteers had made her feel cared for and that she was valued. Something everyone can understand. Submitted by Stephanie Roberts

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