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Agency searching for donated warehouse space to keep youth clothing program alive

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It’s a race against time for a nonprofit helping clothe Indianapolis’ underserved youth. Assistance League of Indianapolis will need another warehouse space to continue building on one of its long-standing programs: Operation School Bell.

On any given day, a number of of Indianapolis students may not go to school simply because their parents can’t afford to buy them clothes. The pandemic has made things even more difficult, but Operation School Bill has been around for more than 35 years, providing clothes — and hope — to students.

Packed inside a 9,000-square foot warehouse are clothing items that will eventually end up with thousands of students. School administrators and teachers help identify students who need a little help.

“They walk into their classroom with dignity and respect,” Assistance League of Indianapolis President Trish Severns said. “And we know that a barrier to learning is not being there.”

Severns says providing clean clothing is one of the fundamental ways to reduce poverty in children is education.

“We feel what we are doing goes well beyond just supplying a basic or essential need by giving them clothes … They are also empowered to succeed at school,” Severns said.

Typically, warehouse space has been donated to the organization. But the building they currently is up for sale, so the clock is ticking. In 120 days, they’ll need to clear out.

“We are pleading, we are pleading, we are begging, we are asking for those of you out there to consider Assistance League of Indianapolis,” Patty Johnson, who is working with the relocation, said.

All of the staff work on a volunteer basis. Many are retired teachers, so moving every year can take its toll.

“Hopefully, what we’re doing (at) Assistance League of Indianapolis is motivating and inspiring those children,” Johnson said.