Family of Faith Church is built on a hill in Choctaw that is a prime spot for sliding.
The Rev. Pat Franks, the church's associate pastor, said she envisioned lots of children gliding down a giant, water-covered plastic sheet on hot, summer days.
She said the church will combine the watery fun from such sliding with the practical during its annual Slip 'n' Slide back-to-school event Aug. 7. Volunteers will give away hundreds of backpacks filled with school supplies amid all the excitement.
"We had anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 people show up to play in the water last year," Franks said. "I call it 'controlled chaos.'"
The Choctaw church, 13500 SE 15, is one of numerous metro-area congregations holding back-to-school gatherings that meet students' needs for school supplies and their hankering for fun. Other churches hosting back-to-school giveaways include Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, Alameda Church of Christ in Norman, Chapel Hill United Methodist, Faith Church, Wildewood Christian Church and Mount Olive Baptist Church in Oklahoma City and Bethel Church in Choctaw.
Franks said Family of Faith's bash has grown over the years. She said the church with about 125 members gave away about 70 backpacks during its first Slip 'n' Slide event; last year about 440 children received backpacks and school supplies.
Franks said in addition to the wet and wild fun and school supply giveaway, the church will distribute free hot dogs and soft drinks and conduct a blood drive. Representatives from the police department and Students Against Drugs and Alcohol will provide safety information.
Meanwhile, Chapel Hill United Methodist Church is holding its first Children's Back-to-School Health Fair today at 2717 W Hefner.
Robin Dickerson, the church's director of pastoral care and older adults, said she came up with the idea for the fair, and other leaders in the church quickly embraced it. She said the church offers Whiz Kids tutoring during the school year and a Project Transformation summer program, so she thought the health fair would be a great way to expand the church's outreach to students.
Emphasis will be placed on healthy lifestyles. For instance, a presentation on creating healthy snacks will be featured, and EMSA representatives will give a basic first-aid presentation. Dickerson said health screenings also will be offered. Free vaccinations will be given, and the first 200 youths will receive free backpacks and school supplies.
Other activities for children include the Skeeter Hall Puppet Show, Chester the Clown, Zumba dance exercise and face painting.
"Can't do all that without having a little fun," Dickerson said, laughing.
In Norman, Alameda Church of Christ's Streams of Water Ministry is gearing up for its sixth annual Back to School Round-up and Information Fair on Aug. 7.
John Helton, a deacon who leads the benevolence ministry, said church leaders saw that people who visited the ministry's food pantry and clothes closet were burdened by the cost of school supplies each fall. He said children are embarrassed to go back to school without adequate supplies, so the church, 801 E Alameda, sought to help.
Helton said the church gave away 300 backpacks the first year, and he expects about 700 to be given away this year. He said about 1,500 people typically attend the roundup, so the backpacks go quickly.
In addition to the backpack giveaway, haircuts will be offered, and free school supplies, hats, scarves and gloves will be distributed. Helton said inflatable games, face painting, carnival games and cotton candy also will be offered. The information fair will include representatives from the Cleveland County YMCA, the Norman Fire and Police Departments, Boy Scouts Troop 777, Success by 6 and other agencies.
"I think we felt like we needed to do it because nobody else was doing it," he said. "We're hoping this helps our community."
Students in the Edmond area will get a helping hand from Henderson Hills Baptist Church with a school supply giveaway for children in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Jeff Wilson, the church's pastor of communications, said more than 1,000 Edmond-area students received supplies through last year's giveaway. He said this year's supply giveaway Aug. 11 also will include free basic health checks and vision screenings through the church's Ministries of Jesus health clinic, plus free dinner, games and inflat
Wilson said Edmond teachers have been invited to visit the church at 9 a.m. Aug. 12 to obtain free supplies leftover from the giveaway.
With school budgets being cut and a noticeable increase in benevolence requests, Wilson said he thinks more students and teachers may attend the giveaway events.
"We believe the need is still present, and that's why were doing this," Wilson said.
Other Oklahoma City-area back-to-school events include Wildewood Christian Church's Community Back-to-School Bash featuring a backpack giveaway, inflatables, free haircuts, immunizations and refreshments. Information about healthy lifestyles also will be offered at the event at 6900 N Kelley.
At OKC Faith Church, the Rev. Terry Bates and his congregation are preparing to again host Feeding the 5,000 and More. The annual event set for Aug. 21 is based on the Scripture in John 6:8-14, which describes how Jesus took a young boy's meal of five barley loaves and two fish to create a meal that fed thousands.
The church at 800 S Portland will offer free backpacks, school supplies and a meal along with a short, Gospel-inspired skit.
The following faith-based, back-to-school activities are planned in the Oklahoma City metro area. Events are free unless otherwise noted:
School Supply Give-Away, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 11, Henderson Hills Baptist Church, 1200 E Interstate 35 Frontage Road, Edmond. Bring proof of Edmond residency or a report card or document showing attendance at an Edmond Public School District school. 341-4639; www.WeNeedSchoolSupplies.com.
Community Back-to-School Bash, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 14, Wildewood Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 6900 N Kelley. 478-0781.
Trinity Church Impact Team's Back-to-School event, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 14, Central Elementary School, 300 S Ninth, Yukon. Offered to Yukon-area students. 354-4839.
Back-to-School Festival, 9 to 11 a.m. Aug. 14, Mount Olive Baptist Church, 1020 N Kelley. 424-2186.
Feeding 5,000 and More, Aug. 21, OKC Faith Church, 800 S Portland. 948-7100; www.okcfaith.com.