Photo Cutline: (L to R) Front Row: Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Tribal Council Speaker Joe Byrd and Tribal Council Deputy Speaker Victoria Vazquez. Middle Row: Tribal Councilor Keith Austin, Tribal Council Secretary Frankie Hargis, Tribal Councilor Rex Jordan, Treasurer Lacey Horn and Tribal Councilor Janees Taylor. Back Row: Tribal Councilors Dick Lay, Harley Buzzard, Bryan Warner, David Walkingstick, Shawn Crittenden and Buel Anglen.
Published June 22, 2016
TAHLEQUAH. — The Cherokee Nation donated $75,000 to several organizations that ensure school children get snacks and school supplies when they return to school this fall.
In northeastern Oklahoma at least 20 organizations participate in backpack programs that send backpacks home with students who are in need of everything from school supplies to nutritious weekend snacks.
The tribe donated the funds from the Cherokee Nation’s donations and charitable contributions budget. Cherokee Nation Tribal Council members individually delivered the checks totaling $75,200 to the churches, schools and organizations in their areas.
“We have a responsibility to our children, especially those in need, to ensure they have access to basic and essential items when they are away from structured activities like school and church,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “Networking with these partners, organizations that have similar values and a mission to help kids, enables us all to do more, and that is critical if we hope to raise healthy and happy children in northeast Oklahoma. If we can address any insecurity a child has at home, whether it’s food or clothing or supplies, then we are helping build a better tomorrow.”
Currently, the 20 programs serve 3,643 students, with half of those students being Cherokee Nation citizens.
Tribal Council Speaker Joe Byrd said the tribe is able to help more families when developing healthy partnerships with organizations inside the 14-county jurisdiction.
“By partnering with churches, schools and organizations inside the communities, we are able to make the greatest impact with our tribal dollars,” Byrd said. “These organizations know the needs of our young people in their respective communities, and I am proud that the Cherokee Nation can contribute to meeting those needs.”
Organizations receiving funds are in Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Muskogee, Nowata, Rogers, Sequoyah and Washington counties.
New Life Church in Stilwell received $15,000 to help. At the beginning of every school year, the church hosts a cookout and backpack giveaway night for parents and students in Adair County.
The church also partners with four rural Adair County schools and uses the donation to provide nutritious weekend snacks to students every week during the school year.
“We are so thankful to be able to partner with the Cherokee Nation and help students and parents in our area with necessary school supplies and nutritious snacks on the weekend,” said New Life Church Pastor Max Ford. “The tribe’s generosity is a godsend for our community, and we are more than happy to help pass that blessing on to those in need.”