Dozens of Kyrene students were treated to a shopping spree at a Tempe Target store thanks to the donations of a local non-profit organization.

Operation School Bell, a program by the Assistance League East Valley, made it possible for 43 students from across Kyrene, including de las Lomas in Ahwatukee Foothills, to explore the store on Wednesday and pick out new outfits. Each student received two pairs of pants, two tops, one sweatshirt or jacket, socks, underwear, and a pair of shoes.

The students were chosen based on recommendations from the schools. They were classified as "in need," or those that would benefit most from new clothing. Students came from a wide variety of schools, including Title One schools, which are classified as such when 50 percent or more of students are on free or reduced-price lunches.

Operation School Bell was created in 1989 and has clothed thousands of children across the East Valley. Last year they granted 528 children a shopping spree and gave and additional 4,046 students two sets of their schools uniforms.

A total of 90 Kyrene students, spread out over two days, benefitted from the Target shopping spree. In addition to the clothes, they received a "Looking Good" kit that included a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and other toiletries.

"Last year, a child said to me, I'll never forget it, he said these were the first new clothes he had ever owned," said Susan Doyle, who does public relations for Assistance League. "We are fortunate we can dress so many."

Funding for Operation School Bell stems from sales at the Assistance League East Valley Thrift Store, 1950 N. Arizona Ave. The organization is a chapter of the National Assistance League, which operates on volunteers and donations. On Wednesday, volunteers acted as guides for the kids, helping them pick out clothing and making sure everything fit and was appropriate for school.

"It's such a great event, you can tell it makes a difference in their lives," said Michelle Helm, a volunteer and member of the Tempe Union High School District Governing Board. "It's very worthwhile."

Target supplied the group with a snack when they were finished shopping.

To find out more about Assistance League East Valley, visit their website, or call (480) 792-1600.

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