Operation School Bell Helps Empower Students Ring in School Year

FullSizeRenderEmpower College Prep students and families received a pleasant Back-to-School surprise last week when they returned to campus for orientation.

The students each received four free uniforms, a backpack, hygiene kit and free books to help them improve their reading, courtesy of Operation School Bell, a philanthropic partnership between Phoenix Rotary 100, the Assistance League of Phoenix and BHHS Legacy Foundation.

The program aims to outfit underserved students with new clothing, shoes and other essential items.

Last year, the program served about 7,300 children from local school districts and charter schools. Program officials say they are aiming for 7,400 for this upcoming school year.

The clothes and supplies arrived at Empower via Operation School Bell’s “Delivering Dreams Bus,” a former city bus retrofitted with dressing rooms and waiting areas for the students, and storage bins for clothes and supplies. The organization converted the bus with money from a 2012 Grand Slam Award from the Arizona Diamondbacks and matching funds from the BHHS Legacy Foundation.

This isn’t the first time Empower students have received new uniforms, but the program with Operation School Bell enabled the students to receive more than previous years, said Empower School Director Brian Holman said.

The students received four uniform shirts this year, compared to two in past school years, in addition to the hygiene kits and backpacks.

The partnership with Operation School Bell formed after three Empower school board members and the Arizona Charter Schools Association reached out to Phoenix Rotary 100 and the Assistance League to help their students.

The entities “forged a partnership to allow the scholars and families to be blessed by their contributions and time,” Holman said, referring to the program.

About 500 students attend the central Phoenix public charter school, which received an ‘A’ grade from the Arizona Department of Education in 2014, the most recent year that letter grades were assigned.

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