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Rocklin kids get free Kmart shopping spree

By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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With shopping carts in hand, hundreds of Rocklin students were given the gift of a free shopping spree. Just in time for chilly weather and holidays, approximately 1,300 students within the greater Placer County area received complimentary Kmart shopping sprees to purchase new clothing. The spree was made possible by the all-volunteer Assistance League of Greater Placer. Titled Operation School Bell, the league raised approximately $88,000 to give children some much-needed clothing. Last Tuesday was one of six shopping trips where students could spend between $50 for kindergartners to $95 for high school students. With a budget, students sought out the sales, Operation School Bell co-chairman Debbie Young said. “They end up being smart shoppers,” Young said. Young has been with the group for about five years now and said she’s attended every shopping event since joining. “For the most part everyone is so appreciative,” she said. “I cry every time.” Young said students are recommended by school staff. The program gives students of more than 100 schools the opportunity to purchase winter wear. Last year Operation School Bell gave 1,100 students new clothing. This year’s program, which ends this weekend, will give 1,300 students new duds. “The need keeps getting bigger,” Young said. Operation School Bell is one of many philanthropic programs the league spearheads every year. The nonprofit also provides wardrobe makeovers for people re-entering the workforce, scholarships, companionship for elders in assisted living centers and more. With approximately 250 members in the greater Placer County chapter, the group also manages a thrift store in Auburn. A large portion of the funds raised for Operation School Bell come from the thrift shop revenue, as well as grants, fundraisers and donations. A $7,500 grant from the Roseville Employees Annual Charitable Hearts or REACH fund was awarded to Assistance League to support this year’s Operation School Bell program as well. “The parents and children are so happy and extremely appreciative,” Young said. “It is just wonderful to see the smiles on the kids’ faces as they receive their new clothes.” For more information on Assistance League of Placer County, go to greaterplacer.assistanceleague.org.