Lawton_The Comanche Nation is making sure its youngsters go back to school with everything they need to succeed. It's the tribe's first back to school giveaway and from the looks of things it was a huge success. About a thousand kids showed up Friday to get their back to school gear.
The tribe felt that many of the parents and guardians couldn't afford to buy supplies. They also found that many of the kids weren't up to date with their shots, so they planned this one stop shop to get kids up to speed. The tribe just started planning this event two weeks ago. They were, perhaps, not quite ready for what was in store. It may have even been a bit overwhelming. The line was long and filled with Native American families who needed help. Some are low-income and others just find themselves on hard times.
Barbara Thomas knows how tough it can be. She's a foster parent who has to know how to make every penny count. She has an eight year old Native American foster child and she's on a limited income. By coming to the back to school event, she was able to get his shots up to date, a health screening and get school supplies that are packaged up and ready to go.
"We have a lot of single parents and parents that cannot afford the clothing and the school supplies they need," said Thomas. Gwen Bowen helped coordinate the event and says so many families don't have the money to get their kids prepared for school.
Bowen says that many Native American families fail to keep up with their children's vaccinations, so they made it easy for them. They brought the health professionals to them. "A lot of our parents will not take the time to take them to the Indian Health Clinic or Health Departments," she said. "I figure if we have it here they will be picking up school supplies, they can do everything at one time."
Even though the lines were long, most say the wait was worth it. A hairstylist was even on hand to trim any shaggy summer hair. It was courtesy of the tribe's substance abuse program. Comanche Tribal students also received clothing vouchers. On top of all this, everything was free. Bowen says this is just something nice the tribe felt it could do for its people.