LAWTON, Okla._For many low-income families, the beginning of the school year can be stressful, and buying school supplies is not a cheap endeavor.
One Lawton woman has taken it upon herself to help those families and their children start the academic year on the right foot. With the help of her daughters and some community members, Wilma Smith spends all year purchasing everything from pencils and rulers to brand new clothes and bikes, so no Lawton child goes without.
As a former military wife and mother to seven children, and having grown up in a large family herself, Smith knows how hard it can be to provide the necessities for a good school year.
Ms. Granny Smith, as she is known in the community, says helping provide for children is her calling.
"A voice came to me and told me, 'as long as you do for a child in my name, I'll bring you angels to help you.’ Now my angels are here today," Smith said.
Smith has worked with Lawton Public Schools transportation for the last 20 years.
"If there's kids on my bus that don't have a book bag, I always end up getting book bags for them," Smith said.
She says it's her love of kids that makes her so passionate about helping out when she can, and says she hopes she's leaving a lasting impression on each child she helps.
"I look at the kids I'm helping now and maybe down the road they'll remember what I did for them and do for somebody else," Smith said.
When you're school shopping for close to 100 children, you have to be a master bargain shopper and get the biggest bang for your buck.
"At the PX on Wednesdays, they hate to see me come in because I compare and shop with them and I tell them I don't have to put up with this at Kmart and Walmart, they got lower prices than y'all. Now y'all gotta help an old lady out," Smith said.
And Granny Smith's giving doesn't stop when school starts.
"When I get finished with this, I'm working on my Christmas giveaway and I'm going to try to go to as many school's as I possibly can," Smith explained.
Smith is well-known and loved by many children in the Lawton community.
"That's grandma, that's the one that gives us stuff when we act right. And they be wavin' and some kids will run up to me and hug me," Smith said.
Smith says she has more than 40 brand-new bikes that will be donated to area schools. She says in the past, the schools have used the bikes as incentives for students to get good grades and stay out of trouble.
If you're in need of school supplies and clothes, those will be available at the Back to School Bash on Saturday, July 25, at the H.C. King Center in Lawton.
If you would like to donate to the Back to School Bash, just drop off your items at the H.C. King Center or Lawton Public School's bus barn.