With the largest school district in the Oklahoma City metro area starting several weeks earlier than usual, several churches are planning their annual back-to-school activities earlier as well.
Many churches offer school supplies, backpacks and other aid to families and schools to reach out to the community at large.
Glenn Harris, ministry assistant at Quayle United Methodist, 5001 N Everest, said his church's goal is to establish a relationship with the children and parents who flock to the Community Block Party on Saturday, July 30, at Quayle and two nearby churches.
“We don't want to give them a hot dog and backpack and we don't see them again until next year,” Harris said. “We're hoping to learn more about the people and find out what their needs are.”
The block party is supported by many local churches and organizations and it will take place at three church sites, Quayle, Holy Temple Baptist and Holy United Baptist Church. Harris said school supplies will be distributed at Holy Temple; Holy United will host a health fair; and Quayle will be the site for prayer, free food and horseback riding.
Harris said the July 30 date will be just in time for students in the Oklahoma City School District, which begins the school year Aug. 1, to get their supplies for a new round of classes.
Meanwhile, another church hosting a back-to-school event July 30 is Woodlands Hills Baptist Church, 313 S State Highway 76 in Newcastle, with its Backpack Give-Away. The church plans to distribute up to 300 backpacks and school supplies to children living in the tri-city area of Newcastle, Blanchard and Tuttle. Other activities include an inflatable apparatus and face painting.
More in August
Churches offering back-to-school events in August include Alameda Church of Christ in Norman, Family of Faith Church in Choctaw and OKC Faith Church.
Alameda Church of Christ's annual Back-to-School Roundup, sponsored by the church's Streams of Water ministry, is preparing to distribute 700 backpacks to area students who attend the Saturday, Aug. 6, event at 801 E Alameda.
Visitors will be treated to a meal plus activities such as an inflatable apparatus, carnival games and magic show. An information fair featuring local nonprofit groups will be included. Handmade scarves, hats and gloves will be given away, and free haircuts will be given.
Family of Faith Church will host its Slip-n-Slide Back-to-School event Saturday, Aug. 6. The Rev. Pat Franks, the church's associate pastor, said the annual event at 13500 SE 15 in Choctaw will include the water slide activity and inflatables. Free backpacks and school supplies will be distributed along with hot dogs.
At OKC Faith Church, members are gearing up for a large outreach that includes the church's annual Feeding the 5,000 Back-to-School Give-Away on Saturday, Aug. 20.
Jamie Shirley, the church's music minister and communications director, said OKC Faith Church's senior pastor, the Rev. Terry Bates, challenged the congregation to reach out to present the gospel to 100,000 people in 100 days. She said the initiative will begin Saturday, Aug. 13, when church members plan to visit 10,000 Oklahoma City area neighborhoods. The school supply giveaway the following week will reach out to even more families, Shirley said.
She said the supply giveaway continues to be a popular draw for families. Some of them line up outside the church, 800 S Portland, as early as 5 a.m. in the morning on the day of the event.
Shirley said as part of the new initiative, supply giveaway visitors will be invited back to the church for four nights of drama presentations for which the church is known. She said church leaders hope to connect with students and their families beyond the giveaway event.
“Every year, we see new people, and we try to stay in contact with them,” she said. “The pastor thought we could touch the city this way.”
Slip-n-Slide Back-to-School, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, Family of Faith Church, 13500 SE 15, Choctaw, 769-8751; www.