League helps students with clothing donation

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published October 23, 2013

 Volunteers Sherry Sellinger, Sue Ward and Adam Snider help Anthony Ayotte, 7, pick out a new book. 

Volunteers Sherry Sellinger, Sue Ward and Adam Snider help Anthony Ayotte, 7, pick out a new book. 

Photo provided

This school year, every student at Will Rogers Elementary School in Pontiac has new shirts, pants, shoes, coats, hats, mittens and more to wear, thanks to members of the Assistance League of Southeastern Michigan.

Through fundraising efforts, the league supplies aid to those in need. Will Rogers students participated in the league’s Operation School Bell program Oct. 17, picking out new clothing, hygiene supplies and books in the school gymnasium, set up to resemble a department store.

“Shoppers take students around to get a shoe voucher, a uniform shirt and a fun top,” said Carol Murphy, Operation School Bell local co-chair. “They pick out a coat, a hat, gloves and a fun reading book. They put their name in the book. That is huge. Many of the children don’t have any books at their homes.”

Assistance League members shop year-round, purchasing children’s clothing and supplies. Member Betty Zych said she has been in charge of buying tops for eight years, looking for sales and coupon opportunities.

“I couldn’t wait until I turned 62 so I could get the senior discount,” Zych said.

Clothing waits in a Rochester warehouse until distribution, said league member Margaret Ronse. The ReSale Connection, located at 204 Main St. in Rochester, is staffed by Assistance League volunteers and raises funds for Operation School Bell and more.

“The resale shop is our biggest income for money,” Ronse said.

The Assistance League of Southeastern Michigan, founded in 1993, has a volunteer membership of 300. All funds raised stay within Michigan communities — providing clothing, food, tutoring, supplies and care kits to thousands of infants, children, women, men and families year-round.

The Southeast Chapter is one of 212 Assistance League chapters of the National Assistance League, established in California in the 1890s.

The Mistletoe Marketplace Event is an annual November Assistance League fundraiser luncheon featuring auctions, raffles and exhibitors. This year, the Mistletoe Marketplace will be held 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Palazzo Grande in Shelby Township. Tickets are $90 and can be purchased by calling (586) 281-3787.

At Will Rogers School, 150 men and women volunteers helped young children shop. Next, Operation School Bell heads to Detroit, where 600 young students will receive new clothing and supplies. In total, 2,200 Michigan children will participate in the program this year.

“It is amazing what a group of women can do in a community,” Ronse said.  

“It is important to keep the vision on the kids and make them smile,” Murphy said.