DHS is thankful for students’ efforts

BY HEATHER WARLICK Modified: January 8, 2009 at 3:38 pm •  Published: November 24, 2008
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photo - Belle Isle Enterprise Middle School students Bethany Goodman, 11, Mikayla Nevills, 12, science teacher Dan Covey and Kori Long, 11, sort food donations to assist families in need this Thanksgiving.
Belle Isle Enterprise Middle School students Bethany Goodman, 11, Mikayla Nevills, 12, science teacher Dan Covey and Kori Long, 11, sort food donations to assist families in need this Thanksgiving.
Oklahoma families statewide are preparing for the holidays by shopping for turkeys, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pies and all the traditional fixings for a perfect Thanksgiving dinner. But for some Oklahomans, an unstable economy, job losses and higher prices for food and other commodities mean that Thanksgiving will be less festive this year.

The state Department of Human Services wants to help those Oklahomans have a happy and bountiful Thanksgiving by providing some of the staples for Thanksgiving meal to at least 300 families in need.

Last week, students from Belle Isle Enterprise Middle School in Oklahoma City did their part to ensure that needy Oklahoma families will have a happy holiday.

The students started a food drive Nov. 4 that concluded Wednesday with a total of 1,777 cans and packages of food.

"These donations come at a critical time because two of our major partners were unable to help this year,” said Mary Leaver, DHS communications manager.

Leaver said the organization that provides turkeys for the needy families is experiencing financial challenges and won’t be able to donate as many turkeys as last year.

"Certainly we’re absolutely very grateful for the ones we’re getting,” she said. But she added that cash donations from individuals and businesses are especially important this year.

Food drives such as the one at Belle Isle Enterprise Middle School are happening at schools and DHS county offices across the state. DHS also needs volunteers to help sort and distribute the food.

People wishing to help can volunteer or make donations of cash or canned foods by calling DHS at 521-3646.


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HOW TO HELP

DHS accepts donations for children

For the nearly 6,900 children in the custody of the state Department of Human Services, Christmas can be an especially trying time. Group homes and emergency shelters have money in their budgets for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners but not for gifts.

"The state can provide food, shelter, sometimes even clothing if necessary. But the state can’t provide those holiday memories,” said Mary Leaver, DHS communications manager. For many children and teens in emergency shelters and group homes, donated gifts will be all they receive for Christmas.

DHS accepts donations of new, unwrapped toys at its county offices. Since teens are often harder to shop for than children, store gift cards are appreciated. To donate, call 521-3646.

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