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Students across southwest Oklahoma get ready to go back to school

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SOUTHWEST, OK (KSWO)- On Saturday thousands of kids in southwest Oklahoma attended back to school bashes and their families got a little help with school supplies.

In Lawton, more than 800 kids now have all the supplies they need for school, thanks to the City of Lawton parks and Recreation. It was all a part of their annual "Back to School Bash" at the Great Plains Coliseum. All of the backpacks and school supplies were donated by the community.

Park and Rec Activity Coordinator Shereyl Grubbs said it's important to get the community together and show support for students and their education.

She hopes each family knows the community has their back.

"I hope they feel that people care about them,” said Grubbs. “Every last one of the donations and supplies were community sponsored or business sponsored and they gave just with the intention of serving the community making sure that their kids and their families were well taken care of."

There were also vendors set up to give out information parents may need to prepare for the school year. They gave out all the supplies and backpacks throughout the day until they had nothing left.


Then over at St. John's Baptist Church they also took part in giving out over 400 backpacks filled with school supplies on Saturday to the community. Kids not only got their pens, pencils and paper, but a free health physical, haircuts and food.

Julia Mantzke, a Lawton mother of two kids said with what seems like a never ending list of expensive school supplies for her kids, events like these help ease the financial and physical stress of buying everything themselves.

She said it's also important to come together as a community to show how crucial education is for our next generation.

"I feel like that when we have community events like this it helps keep the parents involved in the children's education,” said Mantzke. “Sometimes parents get lost in other things and they don't stay involved. So maybe if there were more events throughout the year it would be more helpful. I try to be involved in everything that they do."

She said this was her first year to attend the giveaway and it won't be the last.


Another first-time back to school giveaway happened at Ridgecrest Elementary. They hosted their first annual back to school block party on Saturday to kick off the school year. Nearly 500 students, parents, and teachers gathered at the school for the bash. The event offered fun games and activities for students some kids even painted rocks that will be placed as decoration in front of the school. Students were also given free school supplies and donated backpacks.

Ridgecrest Elementary third grade teacher and event coordinator Porscha Millender said the purpose of the event was to connect with parents and students and have fun before school starts.

"We need to get our families and teachers on the same page because we have their kids all day,” said Millender. “And we definitely want to make sure that we are there for them and let them know they are able to come and talk to us about anything they need."


Then over in Duncan they continued their tradition of preparing their students for a new school year at the annual Fiesta at Fuqua Park. Saturday marked the thirteenth-year students were given free supplies to start the new year off strong. More than 1,000 community members participated in games and activities. The event also offered 30 different vendors geared towards parents and kid’s needs.

Event coordinator Melissa Powell said the event couldn't have happened without the help of the community supporting the children.

"It's hard enough for the parents to buy clothes, shoes, school supplies, provide school lunches everything that's needed for the kids to go back to school,” said Powell. “So, this event is to help give something back to the parents."

Powell said Duncan community loves their students and looking forward to a great school year.

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