THUMBS UP to people helping students get ready for the new academic year.
Schools started posting their schedules and classroom supply lists — and several people and organizations are helping students prepare for a return to school.
Shared Blessings will host its Back-to-School Bash from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Main and Oklahoma Church of Christ at 1700 S. Main St. in McAlester. The event offers children free socks and underwear, hygiene products, clothes, and a $20 gift card to Shoe Dept.
The annual J. Michael Miller Book Bag Giveaway is set for 10 a.m. Aug. 6 at 323 ½ E. Carl Albert Parkway in downtown McAlester — with a goal of giving away 7,000 bags full of school supplies.
Jennifer Mullins, office manager for Southeastern Oklahoma Social Services, continues her annual sock and underwear drive through September to benefit people in need throughout the community.
These events and so many like them help students start the year on the right foot without having to worry as much about school supplies or their clothes.
McAlester senior Reed Marcum organizes the annual J. Michael Miller Book Bag Giveaway with his stepdad, J. Michael Miller, his mom, Angie, with the help of volunteers to provide bags full of school supplies before the start of each academic year.
The first book bag giveaway provided roughly 1,000 bags, with more than 12,000 given away in the past four years.
This year's event honors the late longtime educator Donna Curry, Hudson Campbell, Kenna Mattioda, Leann Yandell, and Sergeant Miles Tarron.
The car line starts at the intersection of Main Street and Adams Avenue. Drivers must then continue east along Adams Avenue and turn right at Fifth Street, go through the roundabout on Washington Avenue and Fifth Street. Drivers must then turn right into the alley and exit on Third Street.
The event partnered last year with the Shared Blessings Back-to-School Bash — which returns for its 19th year on Aug. 4 to continue helping students meet needs ahead of the new academic year.
Joey Clark, director of operations at Shared Blessings, said the organization is excited to expand its event to include a gift card for shoes because he knows shoes can become expensive for families with multiple students.
Shared Blessings began in 1998 and now serves more than 2,500 people each month through community partnerships.
Clark said the back-to-school event is the organization’s biggest event of the year and anyone interested in volunteering can contact Shared Blessings or show up at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2, or at 4 p.m. the day of the event.
Mullins said her goal with the her annual sock and underwear drive is to provide for students across Pittsburg County who are in need.
The Sock and Undie drive started when staff at we at Southeastern Oklahoma Social Services saw parents struggling to get undergarments for multiple children in their household.
Mullins said she reached out to friends on social media and the response to help was huge.
The drive has provided socks and underwear to every McAlester Public Schools campus, and to students in Hartshorne, Haileyville, Crowder, Frink, and Tannehill. The drive also supports the Youth Shelter, Good Samaritan Men's Shelter and Hope House.
Anyone can drop off donations at Southeastern Oklahoma Social Services 512 E. Chickasaw or call 918-302-0389 for more details.
We applaud everyone involved in these events and others for helping our local children get ready for school.
• McAlester News-Capital Editorial Board