August 2017: Back to school can be an exciting time. After a summer of splashing around in a pool to beat the sweltering sun, playing Minecraft and Roblox at all hours, rolling around the neighborhood on bikes, and kicking it at summer camp, kids are armed with an arsenal of cool stories to share with their schooltime pals.
For many kids, teens, and tweens, one of the best parts about the return to school is that exciting feel of strutting around in a new pair of kicks, flashing a cool new backpack. However, for families struggling to make ends meet, the end of summer can be just another reminder of the hardships they face. Between school supply lists and the sudden realization that a child’s pants are two inches too short, many families could use an extra hand with getting everyone ready and confident for that first week back to school.
Fortunately, there are plenty of places in Green Country to help lighten the load and get kiddos looking fly for those obligatory first-day Facebook feed pics.
Catch a lift.
Getting kids to and from school can be very challenging for working parents. TPS Rides is a program where Tulsa Public Schools high school students can catch a ride on Tulsa Transit free with their school ID every day of the week. Not only does this lower transportation costs for TPS, but it gives high schoolers a way to get to work, practice, or school events, opening up the possibilities for socioeconomically disadvantaged students.
Tulsa Caring Van will be available in several locations to offer vaccinations for Tulsa kids heading back to school throughout the month of August. The van offers vaccinations for children who are uninsured, Medicaid eligible, or Native American, as well as BMI screenings for children ages 2-18 years. A parent or guardian must be present with each child’s vaccination record.
Dress for success.
One of the most costly aspects of returning to school can be dressing the family. On Sunday, August 6th, Coweta Assembly of God will host its Back 2 School Event at 29707 E. State Highway 51. The event will be held in the Outreach Center from 4 to 5 p.m. and will offer free haircuts, school supplies, clothing, and shoe vouchers. The event is open to all children in the community and requires no pre-registration.
Native American children can also receive uniform help through the Johnson-O’ Malley Program, a federally funded program providing school uniform assistance. For more information, contact your school’s administration.
Operation School Bell is an Assistance League of Tulsa program where kids are referred by teachers and counselors. Kids who are referred to the program receive a coat, shoes, hat, gloves, health kit, and two school outfits.
Shape up that ‘do.
The only thing worse than going back to school with shaggy hair is getting tape bangs courtesy of Mom’s kitchen shears. Thankfully, a few free haircut options are available for Green Country kids. Kids can get their hair on-fleek and just about anything else they need at the Cox Communications and Fox 23 Back to School Expo on Saturday, August 12th. In addition to free haircuts, the first 3000 students can get immunizations, backpacks, and school supplies while enjoying free on-stage entertainment while they mingle with roaming local sports team and cartoon mascots. The event will take place at the Cox Expo Center from 9 to 11 a.m.
Another great option for getting that ‘do in order is the Boys, Books, and Barber Cutoff at Greenwood Cultural Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 13th. Boys in kindergarten through 8th grade will also receive books, backpacks, and refreshments. Registration is August 12th. Call 918.596.1020 for more information.
Kids with braids can feel great for that first day at the Cornrows and Haircuts for Kidz event on August 19th from 9-4. Cornrows for Kidz is a terrific organization promoting cultural pride and embracing natural beauty. The event takes place at Academy Central at 1789 W. Seminole and will offer free braids and cuts for kids under 12 years old. Although this is a free event, tipping the stylist is encouraged. Reservation is required at 858.255.4167. Check out the facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CornrowsForKidz.
Rock the cool gear.
Martin Regional Library and the Coalition of Hispanic Organizations is hosting a bilingual Back to School Community Resource Fair on August 15th from 9 to 11 a.m. at Martin Regional Library at 2601 S. Garnett Road in Tulsa. Free school supplies including basics such as backpacks, pencils, glue sticks, folders, binders, and other necessities will be given to the first 200 school children present. More than 40 local organizations will be present to offer resources to help students and parents throughout the year, and the event will also provide free dental screenings, immunizations, and eye screenings.
The first 100 students present at Hutcherson YMCA on August 13th at noon will receive free backpacks and school supplies. The address is 1120 E. Pine Street.
Tulsa Ministerial Alliance will host its Back to School Bash from 2 to 5 p.m. on August 13th at Tulsa Technology Center in Sand Springs. The event is located at 924 E. Charles Page Boulevard. Kids can get free haircuts, backpacks and school supplies, dental checks, and flu shots. The event will also offer free hot dogs, bouncy fun, Tulsa County Reading Road Show, and $1 snow cones.
Many local community organizations and ministries offer their own back-to-school assistance, so be sure to check out your neighborhood or community organization or local church to see if they have help available. You can also dial 211 for assistance locating local services.
Be sure to check out your school’s policies on free and reduced lunch programs. Most importantly, we at Tulsa Values hope you and your children have a great school year!
See more about Back to Class in 2017: