- Cute schoolchildren getting on school bus outside the elementary school
Amanda Graves remembers what it was like to go to school without the things she needed. Her mother was an addict, she said, and Graves spent much of her childhood drifting in and out of the Department of Human Services, rarely feeling like she belonged.
I grew up rough, in and out of the system, said Graves, event coordinator with The Linked Church. When it came time to go to school, I didnt want to be there. I didnt have clothes, and I didnt have my hair cut the way I wanted. I didnt look and feel good. So when I became a mother, I thought how important it is for my children to look good and feel good and I realized that I wasnt just a voice for them; I needed to be the voice for all these children.
Remembering what it felt like to return to fall classes without proper clothes and shoes, Graves launched Giving Back: OKC Youth Matter. The event happens 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 6 at The Linked Church, 5114 S. Blackwelder Ave., and collects school uniforms, shoes, socks, backpacks, jackets and underwear and provides haircuts for children as they start a new semester of school.
We need all the haircutters we can possibly get, she said. We need clothes clothes that havent been worn or that youll never do anything with. We need shoes. We need everything.
The event itself, which includes food, music and games, is designed to celebrate children while providing them with essentials some that are obvious and some that are rarely discussed in such circumstances. Collection bins are stationed at Urban Teahouse locations, and Cusack Meats is donating hot dogs for the event.
Its just a day to celebrate the youth and let all kids know that we care and were here doing everything we can to help you, Graves said.
For Graves, the plight of children going to school without basics is a personal one, and its one she has faced with her own children. She tells stories about real poverty, including times when she could not afford the $1.69 per pound to buy clothes from Goodwill Industries. She said she knows firsthand how something many take for granted, like a haircut, can feel like a luxury.
Well, if youre a single mom and you got $2.50 in child support last week, is that going to get your son a haircut? she said. So were just doing it.
Graves said she encourages vendors and donors to contact her at 806-433-4950 for information about needed supplies for the event.
You have to have hope, Graves said. When we have a village that takes care of these children, were all able to do what we need to do.
Giving Back: OKC Youth Matter provides needed gifts to children as they begin a new school year:
Learn more and how to participate at facebook.com/givingbackokcyouth or by calling 806-433-4950.
Giving Back: OKC Youth Matter
9 a.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 6
The Linked Church
5114 S. Blackwelder Ave.
Print headline: Filling needs, Linked Church provides clothing and haircuts to students during its Giving Back event.