ALCW in the News

Operation School Bell provides winter wear to District 180 students

On one of the chilliest days so far this season, 165 students at Anne M. Jeans Elementary School went home with new coats, hats, scarves and gloves.

“It’s really exciting,” said school social worker Lynn Moynihan.

The Oct. 19 visit from the Hinsdale-based Assistance League of Chicagoland West has become an annual event at the Willowbrook school, where a majority of students are considered economically disadvantaged.

“People don’t think there’s a need in this area. They just haven’t looked enough,” said Judy Casten of Hinsdale, a member of the Assistance League. 

A group of women from the Hinsdale chapter arrived at the school Oct. 19 with 165 red and blue bags, each stuffed with a new winter coat, a hat and gloves specifically chosen for each child.

Student Juane Sharpley would have liked a red coat, rather than the blue parka he found inside his bag. But the red scarf he chose was enough to put a proud strut into his step and a smile on his face.

Hundreds of handmade scarves were available to students, thanks to the efforts of Principal Debbie LeBlanc’s sister. LeBlanc’s sister, who lives in Quincy, put the word out to friends and acquaintances, who came through with enough scarves for everyone, including some moms, LeBlanc said.

Arranged on a table according to color, each child chose one for themselves.

Assistance League member Madelon Pearlman of Burr Ridge said about 100 coats recently were delivered to students at Burr Ridge Middle School, also in Burr Ridge Community Consolidated School District 180.

“The need seems to go up every year,” she said.

Known as Operation School Bell, the coat project is one of several that the area organization takes on each year to help the community. The 60-member group also provides kitchen supplies for families transitioning from homelessness, companionship to people who are seriously ill, and reading-readiness backpacks for youngsters in HeadStart and other early-education programs.