Operation School Bell (OSB) is known for providing new school clothes to nearly 5,000 Los Angeles Unified School District students from impoverished circumstances. But each spring for the last three years, the charity has turned its attention to the homeless teenage girls in the community with a different focus in mind: prom.
“Many of these girls are living in shelters, hotels or group homes and can’t afford prom attire,” says Linda Levine, co-chair. “This is their day to become a princess.”
In March, 70 girls were treated to dresses, shoes, purses, wraps, jewelry and a makeover with professional stylists at the Assistance League of Los Angeles.
Levine and her co-chair, Wendy Silver, spent the year soliciting local corporations and businesses such as Warner Bros., JCPenney, OPI, Bumble & Bumble, Wet n’ Wild and other friends and community members. “I have such a big mouth that I talk about it everywhere I go!” laughs Levine.
The Hancock Park branch of the Needlework Guild Association (NGA), a national women’s charity organization, was on hand to help. More than 30 local NGA members volunteered at the event, and the organization also donated wraps, dresses and jewelry, and provided lunch for the day.
The girls, who average a GPA of 3.69, get to keep all of their prom items, and having everything supplied to them at no cost is a huge burden off of their minds.
“I know my mom can’t buy my dress,” says high school senior Yhomira Lopez, “so I’m excited that I can come here and have a dress for the prom.”
The event, which in the past dressed around 50 girls, has grown bigger every year.
“We hope to dress 100 girls next year,” says Silver.
And not to leave the boys behind, “We’re also looking to reach out to tuxedo companies.”
“This event is very near and dear to us,” beams Levine. “It takes just a little to make someone feel better. We can change these girls’ lives in a day.”
Bell benefit May 3
A Trina Turk fashion show will highlight the Operation School Bell (OSB) fundraiser on Sat., May 3. The event will be held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.
The Assistance League-sponsored event, beginning at 10:30 a.m., will include a cocktail reception, lunch and boutique with handbag, jewelry, clothing and chocolate vendors and a raffle.
OSB outfitted 70 teenagers with prom dresses in March. Next year, said League president Flo Fowkes, they plan to outfit 100 girls and some young men as well.
The luncheon cost of $125 includes valet parking.
By Sondi Toll Sepenuk