Santaâ€™s Little Helpers | Mission Not Impossible
December 09 Vol. 6 Number 10
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contents DEcemeber 2009
Brad Carter Michael Keith
Nick Oxford Dejah Quinn
Denise Quinalty Denise Ragan Bob Searl Mindy Wood
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departments 9 Scott’s Space
6 Supplies for Success 13 Santa’s Little Helpers
10 Best of Shawnee 24 Reflections Volume 6, Number 10 Shawnee Outlook is a publication of Layers Media, Inc. © 2009 Layers Media, Inc.
17 Unforgettable Christmas Gift
Articles and advertisements in Shawnee Outlook do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or Layers Media. Layers Media does not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. The acceptance of advertising by Shawnee Outlook does not constitute endorsement of the products, services or information. We do not knowingly present any product or service that is fraudulent or misleading in nature. Shawnee Outlook assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials.
21 Making Christmas Brighter 27 Famous Author: Billie Letts 30 Mission NOt Impossible
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Supplies for Success by: Mindy Wood
“It may go national and being one of the largest organizations in the U.S. you can just imagine what this will do.”
ocal Elk’s Lodge 657 has long held a reputation for generosity in our community and this time, word is spreading across the state and even the nation about their newest efforts to supply children and teachers with much needed school supplies. Parents cringe every fall when it’s time to purchase school supplies because they know how expensive it is. Somehow they manage to send them ready for their first day. The problem is those supplies don’t last all year. Many parents can’t afford to purchase a second round of learning ammunition and often teachers, passionate about their students, scrounge to foot the bill. The cost teachers take on ranges from $500 to $1,500 a year. However, more and more teachers and their students are going without. When Cleb Fails, an Elk’s Lodge board member, heard about it he couldn’t look the other way. “I don’t have the heart to let that student go without,” he said with fervent sincerity. “If they don’t have supplies, they’re not going to be encouraged to do their work.” Elk’s Lodge member Toby Blaylock, of Blaylock Insurance Agency, partnered with Cleb Fails and sent out folders to every elementary and middle school. Fourteen schools responded with a stack of lists from teachers. “One of the most common things they listed was an electric pencil sharpener,” laughed Fails. “These kids just wear them out.” Although some of the requests were beyond their
ability to fund, they will amply supply classrooms with supplies like paper, pencils, erasers, crayons, glue and more. Fails and Blaylock began collecting money and recruited Candy Swinney and Charlotte Barnett to help with fundraising. Swinney located a signed Heisman Trophy soon to be auctioned off. “It’s beautiful,” Fails said with pride. They also plan to auction off other OU and OSU memorabilia and anything Fails said anything people want to donate. “I put a collection jar out at the Senior Golf Tournament at the Elk’s Golf course every Wednesday so they remember to donate. I know businesses have been hit up for donation after donation but I’ll take a hundred dollars or even just ten. Something to help. So far we’ve raised $2,100 and we haven’t even scratched the surface.” Hypnotist Johnnie Fredman will entertain families at the Elk’s Lodge December 11th for the cause. “He’s donating his time and the Elk’s donated the floor which usually costs about $250. Adults tickets will sell for $10 and kids for $5 with all the proceeds funding our project,” said Fails. “He’s a wonderful person,” said Blaylock, “and he’s got a great program. We’re looking forward to that.” Blaylock said they’ve collected 1,000 pencils. “Local banks and insurance companies have donated pencils, individuals are giving as much as $100 and Citizen Pottawatomie Nation just gave us a large donation,” said Blaylock. “I even have some
places who are donating reconditioned computers.” According to Fails the Elk’s Kids new school supplies program is going statewide. “I was at a local meeting and some state Elk’s dignitaries attended. When I presented it to the board they went crazy over it. One of the state guys asked me to tell him more about it and then the next thing I know it’s going statewide. I get fired up about that,” said Fails. “It may go national and being one of the largest organizations in the U.S. you can just imagine what this will do.” Teachers will receive classroom supplies in January. Fails promised that the program will remain active all year, beginning again in late May for the fall semester and again in January when students run out. He feels confident in the Elk’s Lodge and the community. “When you mention kids, those guys out there just open their hearts.” Elk’s Kids is a program that assists children in the community throughout the year. For more information about how you can get involved or if you would like to make a donation you can contact Cleb Fails at 760-7022 or Toby Blaylock at 275-8535.
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Tuesday, December 8th 5:30-8:00pm s Chili and Hot Dogs for the kids s Pictures with Santa s Bricktown Clowns s Winter Wonderland of games
GRAND PRIZE DRAWING FOR 1 year membership! Must purchase ticket. Giveaway registration is on back of ticket. Drop in box upon entry to chili supper. Drawing will be at 8pm.
Tickets on sale at the YMCA Adults: $5.00 Children: (2-12yrs) $2.00
Santa’s Drop-N-Shop Gets a head start on your Christmas shopping this year! Drop your child off at the YMCA while you shop. We will have tons of fun activities, crafts, and snacks! Friday - Dec. 11, 18 6pm-9pm Saturday - Dec. 5, 12, 19 1pm- 4pm Members $8 per day, Non members $10 per day
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by: Scott Bartley
I’ve gotten a lot of response from my last article, about Pet Peeves. Many of you have come up to me and shared some of your own annoyances, or commented on some of the ones I mentioned. The one that has gotten the most comments is my lack of desire for physical content. Many people have come up to me and wanted to “give me a hug”. Let me be clear- I like physical contact with my family- my wife, children, etc. It’s just all those other people I don’t need it from. I was trying to explain this to my dear friend, Dan Reeder. As we talked, I got a little weepy, and we embraced in a platonic man-hug. (Disclaimer: This did not really happen. I told Dan that I would tell people that we hugged. Repeat- this did NOT happen.) Glad we got that cleared up. As you know, I love to watch the television. One of my favorite shows is on the Food Network- “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”. If you have not seen the show, it’s basically this bleach blonde surfer dude named Guy, who drives around the country, visiting local eateries and tasting their food. That’s it! And he gets paid for that! For several years, I’ve had a short list of dream jobs- Professional Actor, Sportscaster, and now I’m adding this one. Are you kidding me? I would LOVE this job! Get paid to be on TV and eat? Although Revelations doesn’t really specify this, I think Heaven may be similar to what I just described. This leads to what I want to talk about this month. As I was struggling to come up with a topic, my smokin’ hot wife Cindy said “Why don’t you talk about some of the local
eateries here that you like?” So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to pick just a few places here in Shawnee that I really like. Now, local owners, if I don’t mention your establishment, please don’t take offense. I have limited space, and can only hit a few. One thing that people love here in Oklahoma is barbeque. And why I really like BBQ, I don’t love it. But there are times when it definitely hits the spot. And one of my favorite BBQ menu items is ribs. My wife hates it when I get ribs, because I do everything that is legally possible to get all of the meat off of the bone. We do have several really good BBQ establishments here in Shawnee. But if I’m going to get ribs, I’m going to Rob’s Ribber on Kickapoo. Their ribs are truly outstanding. The things that I think set them apart are the size, and the sauce. Their ribs are huge, very meaty, and very tender. And when you slather some of Rob’s Hot BBQ sauce on thereman oh man. They are truly outstanding. Another place that I love to visit, but probably shouldn’t too much if I want to stay under 300 pounds, is Dave’s Donuts. I think I’ve shared with you before my love affair with donuts. I never met a donut I didn’t like. Well, except maple- don’t really care for those. Dave’s has a wide variety of donuts- glazed, chocolate, blueberry, long johns, and my own personal favorite- the apple fritter. Not all apple fritters are created equally, and Dave’s definitely makes the cut. And what I love is that if you tell them, they will find the fritter that’s right for you. Some people like fritters with crunchy edges. Me- I like the ones
that are light and fluffy all over, and they will do their darndest to find just that one for me. It’s not fair for me to just say I love donuts. I’m pretty much in love with any kind of pastry or baked goods. And if I’m looking for something more than donuts, I’m going to DC Bakery. They have everything there- muffins, kolaches, cinnamon rolls, danishes, and cookies. I think that covers all of the basic food groups. And everything that I have ever had there is fabulous. They also bake cakes and pies, and we’ve had some of their cakes as well. Also fabulous. I love walking in there, because the smell is delicious- I wish there was some way I could bottle that smell and take it home. And the service is great as well. The gentlemen that own the place are some of the nicest guys in town. In fact, I’m hoping that after they read this they will want to give me cookies and pastries, which I would quickly devour. As I stated earlier, there are several other really good food choices here in town, but these are the ones that really stand out to me. I hope that as Shawnee continues to grow, that other local people will share their cooking talents with the rest of us, and provide us with even more local flavor. And if anyone out there knows how I could get paid for going around and eating, please let me know- I would like to apply. I’m definitely qualified!
Best of Shawnee
Order in the Court
by: Mindy Wood
by: Mindy Wood
Attorney Greg Wilson is not your stereotypical lawyer. His reputation as a savvy trial and general practice attorney is marked by his efforts to build relationships with his clients based on accessibility, professionalism, integrity, and keeping up with changes in the law. Although most of his legal work involves the courtroom, such as criminal, family, and personal injury, he also handles civil litigation, bankruptcy, and probate. Recent cases Wilson has won have been popping up in the news. His client was awarded $175,000 in a medical malpractice suit and not long ago proved a man innocent of child molestation charges. Another tough case he won was a domestic abuse case in which the jury also found his client innocent. Although cases like these can be difficult to prove, Wilson says he particularly enjoys being a trial lawyer. Integrity and professional ethics are a priority at Wilson Law Firm. Wilson’s primary goal is to always work for the best possible outcomes in his cases, regardless of who he represents or their position in a case. “Even in criminal cases, we don’t run our clients through the system with a premature plea or probation. We first determine whether our client has a winnable case. If not, we work hard to get the best possible results. Too many people end up with something on their record when it doesn’t have to be that way.” Wilson also strives to demystify the law and individual rights to clients who are inexperienced in a courtroom. “We like to help people by protecting their rights and getting the justice they deserve. We like to explain things and make sure they’re fully informed as we go along.” Most people don’t expect their attorney to be as accessible as Wilson tries to be either. “I stay up on all my cases and keep my clients proactively informed so they don’t have to make several calls to find out what’s going on. One of the most important things I strive for is to ensure our clients trust that we’re staying on top of their case, moving it forward for the results they expect,” said Wilson Wilson says times are changing in the way some attorneys charge for their services. “We try to offer flat fees whenever possible. Clients know what to expect from the beginning and that frees us up to focus more on moving their case forward rather than keeping track of how much time we spend on their case. The legal profession is moving in that direction and we’re continuing to work on innovative ways to practice law to meet the expectations of our clients.” Some things about Wilson’s practice will stay the same. “We sincerely want to help people. We’re not all about the money and we always strive to do the best in representing our clients. We take their cases personally and we walk them through the challenges of the case to get them the best possible results.” For more information about Wilson Law Firm you can contact them at 2759994, visit their website at www.shawneelaw.com or come by their new location at the corner of Broadway and Highland.
Two things you never expect to hear in one breath are “free” and “wrecker” but at Brown and Sons Wrecker Service they’re giving away plenty of free services. 1-800 Free Tow gives customers free insurance billing, free emergency car unlock for trapped children, free abandoned car removal, a toll free call and more. Owner and managers, Scott and Tina Brown wanted to offer customers better service and less hassle. As it turns out, he’s also saving customer’s money by educating them about the insurance and auto club market. Brown said customers should be aware of what they’re really paying for. “An auto club charges up to $120 a year for wrecker insurance while an insurance agency charges, $10. Some people have both, not realizing they’re already insured.” When a motorist is stranded and calls their auto club for a wrecker, they could wait for hours or worse, the wrecker never shows up. “That’s because the auto club is calling the cheapest possible wrecker they can find and in some cases, they are unable to locate a wrecker in the area.” Brown also said those wreckers are more likely to be inexperienced with substandard equipment. Brown and Son’s free insurance billing means that there’s less confusion and faster service. A customer isn’t waiting for an agent to find a wrecker and call them back. The customer is in complete control. “We take the middle man out of the picture so you can deal with me directly. That makes it faster for everyone and you don’t have to worry about sitting on the side of the road for hours. We’re offering a direct billing program so customers don’t even have to call their agent and then wait for reimbursement for the ticket they paid to the wrecker.” Brown said some insurance providers are taking good care of their customers. “State Farm Insurance is the most proactive about their towing coverage for the customer. Because they put codes on their insurance cards, I can immediately verify if their policy covers wrecker service. They let them tow who they want.” If someone is uncertain about their policy coverage, Brown said they work with the customer to get them off the road as quickly as possible with the best price. When it comes to customer service, their style is more “hotel concierge” than a gruff wrecker service. They’re open 24/7. They accept credit cards instead of a cash only policy. With towing costs ranging from $75 to $150, that poses a problem for people who carry minimal cash. They also have spacious indoor storage so damaged cars aren’t left in the elements. “We’ve been in business for 45 years because we’re customer service oriented. We make sure people get their things out of their car, we don’t leave adjustors standing out in the rain and we’re not looking for ways to charge you more money; just provide great service at a reasonable price.” For more information, visit www.1800towfree.com or call them at 405273-0470.
Wilson Law Firm
Brown and Sons Wrecker Service
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Santa’s little helpers are no elves. They’re actually bikers but before you picture hell on wheels, think again. It’s their kind and generous hearts that drive these roadworthy benefactors through town with gifts for needy children. These rough and tough bikers show up sporting Santa and reindeer hats, with giant stuffed bears on the back of their festively decorated motorcycles. Santa’s Kids is a non-profit organization that meets needs in the community all year long. They’ve supplied children with shoes for school, clothing for families who suffer a house fire, and assistance for the elderly. They are best known for the annual toy drive when bikers set out on a parade that ends by delighting children and senior citizens with a visit from Santa’s helpers. Last year they helped over 1,200 families. Alan Gunter, retired detective from Shawnee Police Department, partnered with Candy Swinney, a retired public relations officer for the Shawnee police department, eight years ago to start a toy drive. “Bikers are some of the most generous people in the world,” said Gunter. “There’s a benefit drive every weekend for something and you always get a big turnout.” Santa’s Kids holds two fundraisers:
by: Mindy Wood
“It just gives you a good feeling to be a part of this. I’ll do this until I die or until I’m too old to ride a bike, Santa Fest held late summer and the toy drive, mid December. “Grumpy” from the Forsaken Few biker club is Gunter’s right hand man who helps coordinate Santa Fest. “At Santa Fest we do a poker run, car show, bike show and have activities for kids and then we have the toy drive,” said Gunter. “We’ve raised $4,000 in cash alone and all of it goes to Santa’s Kids for Christmas.” He also said there are no paid positions and all people involved volunteer their time. As many as three to six hundred bikers show up every year at Sehorn Yamaha on Independence Street where they begin their three mile parade through town. It’s pretty cold on a bike in December so Sehorn serves coffee and donuts while KIRC Radio broadcasts by live remote. They accept toy and monetary donations until time to ride. “We have a lot of people come out and donate. Little kids come in and break open the piggy bank,” said Gunter. “They’re really excited it.”
They begin their route through town along Kickapoo, Harrison and Main Street before they stop at the Elk’s Lodge. KIRC’s limousine leads the pack with Rita from the “Real Country Shopper Show” dressed as the head elf as she waives to passing cars. When they arrive at the Lodge, Elks members serve hamburgers, chips and a drink for $4 and donate the proceeds to Santa’s Kids. The mayor, police chief, sheriff, and fire department all turn out to eat and deliver gifts. Then the gifts are rounded up and taken to KIRC where they await gift wrap. KIRC radio station is the hub where they assign gifts. “After the toy drive we store the toys at the radio station. We try to give them three gifts, two big and one small,” said Elaine Gunter who loves wrapping gifts. “We check the paper work and match them up the best we can, wrap them and then organize them by address. That’s my favorite part and I can stay up there for hours. It brings me the most joy.” >
continued from pg. 13
Linda Jones, owner of KIRC Radio, and Candy Swinney also makes sure they stock up on bicycles and makes special purchases for specific requests or for kids who have specials needs. â€œIf we have a family who need more than what they applied for like clothing like socks or underpants we take care of that. We also give food baskets for especially poor people. Simon Peterâ€™s Storehouse donates all the food for those. Thatâ€™s why we deliver the day before Christmas Eve so we can see if thereâ€™s anything else we can do,â€? said Linda Jones who also mentioned that they buy for elderly citizens in need as well. The Gunters shared a story about what itâ€™s like to deliver their Christmas cheer. Dressed in his black leather jacket and Santa hat, Alan and Elaine bare their gifts. â€œA few years ago we went to a house south of town and knocked on the door. A little girl answered the door. I said, â€˜Hi, Santa
couldnâ€™t come but he sent us to bring you some gifts.â€™ She said, â€˜you wannaâ€™ see my tree?â€™ She took us in to see a little bitty tree with no lights, no presents under it. I said, â€˜well Santa sent you some presents.â€™ She was tickled to death and showed us her sister and then she said, â€˜I guess Santa couldnâ€™t get me the bike. Mom said he probably wouldnâ€™t be able to.â€™ I looked at her for a minute and I said, â€˜you know what I forgot something. Iâ€™ll be right back.â€™ We ran back to the radio station and brought back a bike. We took it out there and when she saw it her little eyes got so big. She hugged us and kissed us and we all cried.â€? â€œIt just gives you a good feeling to be a part of this. Iâ€™ll do this until I die or until Iâ€™m too old to ride a bike,â€? laughed Gunter. Candy Swinney said, â€œAs long as Linda and I are around, there will always be Santaâ€™s Kids.â€? The toy drive is scheduled for December 13th. The community is welcome to attend and KIRCâ€™s
station welcomes volunteers to gift wrap between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Their building is located at the corner of Broadway and Main Street. For more information, contact KIRC Radio at 878-1803.
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by: Denise Ragan
You know you’ve met a true blue Oklahoman when you meet someone like Kurt Fleischfresser. Nationally known, award winning chef, Fleischfresser decided to return to Oklahoma and call Shawnee home after studying with the best chefs, in the best kitchens around the world. While he has enjoyed a prestigious career, it is his down to earth personality and love of Western food that has made him a favorite guest on television shows, commercials and international cooking tours. Fleischfresser was an engineering major at OSU when he discovered his passion for the culinary arts. He packed his bags for Chicago to study with Chef Bernard Cretier at Le Vichyssoise. He continued to hone his skills at restaurants such as The French Room at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, Enjolie at The Mandalay Four Seasons in Los Colinas, La Champagne at the Registry Resort in Scottsdale and Vincent’s on Camelback in Phoenix. Today he is best known in Oklahoma as Executive Chef and owner of The Coach House and recent partner in Western Concepts Restaurant Group, overseeing Sushi Neko, Musashi’s, Will Rogers Theater, Will’s Coffee Shop and The Lobby Bar. He is also the genius behind several favorite restaurants: Iguana Lounge, Earl’s Rib Palace, the Deep Fork Grill, Portobello, the Ground Floor Café and several others. While he acquired skills from the finest chefs in the country, his love for Oklahoma food and culture never waned. Serving all flavors of cuisine with elegance, grandeur, and pizzazz are part of being a professional chef but Kurt said he never lost sight of the basics. “I love Oklahoma cuisine and that’s what I’ve been working on for over 20 years. As to my style of cooking, I don’t try to amaze you with the words on the menu. I make the dish sound good and taste good. A lot of times people will amaze you with the names on the menu and underwhelm you with the food. People want really good food with
The mere mention of the word tradition can bring a smile to your face, especially those family traditions we look forward to year after year around the holidays. I’d like to tell you of a tradition that was, then wasn’t, and that is again. Years ago when my children were still small, money was tight because I chose to stay home to raise my girls. It was fine with my husband but he told me that if I chose to be a “stay-at-home mom,” it would mean we would have to drive “used cars,” not new. Needless to say, it was an easy choice. I found ways to make it work and one of those was hitting garage sales. One day I was at a yard sale and I saw the biggest pie plate I’d ever seen. It was twelve inches across with a pretty crust scallop edge and I snatched up what would become a real treasure for a dollar. Not because of the price I paid but for the joy it would bring. I couldn’t wait to take it home and try it out. I loved to bake and this was my new challenge. Another treasure I received years earlier was a Betty Crocker Crisco cookbook from my best friend, my mother-in-law. It was my first cookbook. She’d given one to each of her daughter in laws and in it was all kinds of wonderful recipes, everything from appetizers to desserts. I told her many times that was the best five dollars she ever spent on a gift for me. Over the years and now that my girls are grown, the cookbook has been through a lot of wear and tear and without knowing it, this book became a tradition in my family and so did the pie plate. Every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas the cookbook came out on the kitchen counter, guiding us as we made the best crescent rolls, sweets and especially pies. Over the years my pies, especially apple pies, were quite popular among our family and friends. One year my husband’s parents, whom I
continued from pg. 17
called mom and dad, were visiting us from out of state and I made an apple pie. Trial and error taught me which apples made the best pies and I’d also learned the art of pie crust making thanks to my little Crisco cookbook. After dinner I presented the pie and when Dad saw that big pie his face lit up. Then one of the things we came to cherish most began to happen. The stories started being told as we sat around the table listening to Dad tell how it was when he was a boy and how big the portions of pies were back when. He told us how little it cost for “a big ole piece of pie.” The twinkle in his eyes made me laugh then and grin still, now twenty year later. It was a big hit with Dad who told my husband, “son, that’s a fifty dollar pie,” which made my husband smile with pride at the pleasure of seeing the joy it brought to Dad in taste and memories. There were many apple pies made out of that old ceramic pie plate that year because Dad bought and delivered a bushel of the best apples from a trip they made to Arkansas. One day another pie was made, but this time a mishap occurred. Let’s just say the dog really enjoyed the
pie but my prized one dollar pie plate was no more. I don’t know who was more upset: me, my husband, or the dog. I think it was even because we would all miss out on the joy and thrill and, of course, the taste of “the pie” of all pies for many years to come. Look though we did, we never found another pie plate like that one. Other pies were made and they tasted just as good I guess, but the magic just wasn’t the same. We’re not the same either. My girls are grown now and I have grandchildren that love my cooking and baking but the delight of seeing “the pie” was lost. Or was it? Last year three days before Christmas my husband gave me a gift. It was just he and I enjoying the evening at home. The house sparkled and tinkled with decorations. My daughter and future son in law flew in from Chicago and all was well except for one thing. A large sum of money we were expecting to come in a week earlier was late, causing a lot of stress three days before Christmas! I was just thinking about how I hadn’t bought him anything yet when he came in the room with box. As much as I love him, he hasn’t always done well in the gift department
and, in his defense, it takes a lot to surprise me but this time he pulled it off! Inside was a beautiful white twelve inch, heavy duty ceramic pie plate, and it even had the scalloped edge! I looked at him and he looked at me and we grinned as the memories came rushing back like old, lost friends. I couldn’t believe it. How? When? Where did he find it? He told me he was up late one night in the living room looking at a picture of Mom and Dad (we lost our beloved Dad three years ago) and thinking about times past. He thought about that pie plate and how we never could seem to find one. He fumbled around on the internet and came across a couple of places that might have what he was looking for and now there it was. An old tradition was new again with old and new friends and treasured family members. I don’t know how many pies will be made in this new plate but I know the delightful memories will be told for another generation to come through the eyes of my grandchildren and children when they gather around the table to share in these memories and traditions that they will make for themselves.
Shawnee’s Weight Loss Challenge
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Call Brad at 808-0963 or 445-3033 18
It’s your last chance to apply for Shawnee’s Weight Loss Challenge 2010. This year the Shawnee Outlook again partnered with the Troy and Dollie Smith Shawnee Family YMCA to present a second weight loss contest to fourteen contestants who will compete for one of three titles and prizes from local business owners. The contest will kick off the first week of January. Applicants can apply only online beginning December 1st and closing 15th. No applications will be accepted at the YMCA and all applicants must be at least eighteen years old. For more information and to apply visit www.shawneeloser.com
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“It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, but this event gives us the opportunity to pause and really focus on what is truly important.”
For the fourth year in a row, Shawnee’s Faith Christian Outreach is working to make Christmas just a little happier for local children. Children’s Pastor Destry Newman said the church’s Bikes for Kids program was created with the hope of making a child’s Christmas special. What started with that simple idea has grown over the years and now impacts children all over Pottawatomie County, thanks to donations and a support team of volunteers. In 2006, Newman said FCO was able to give away 166 bicycles. In 2007, that number grew to 272 and in 2008, 414 children received new bikes. “This year I expect to give away over 500,” he said. The best part of the Bikes for Kids program is that children from all over the area can benefit. Bike recipients do not have to come from one church or attend a specific school or live in one particular neighborhood. FCO asks for help in finding local children and families in need.
At the beginning of November, more than 4,500 nomination forms were sent to local schools, including Wilson, Jefferson, Horace Mann, Sequoyah, Will Rogers, Grove, North Rock Creek, Pleasant Grove, South Rock Creek, Barnard, Krouch, Cross Timbers, Earlsboro, McLoud, Bethel and Macomb. Parents, guardians and teachers were asked to nominate students in Pre-K through fifth grade. “Those nominating students are asked to explain in detail why the child needs a bike and what specifically contributes to their situation,” Newman said. Two teachers participated in the nomination process last year. Newman said he had hoped for more of a response because teachers spend several hours with their students each day and can usually tell when a child’s family is struggling for one reason or another. Volunteers review the returned forms to make sure the requests are legitimate. Then, bicycles are purchased with donations that have been collected. Volunteers as young as 10 are part of the selection
process. Newman said children really enjoy helping to pick out different styles and kinds of bikes. As an adult, Newman said he tries to put himself in the child’s position to decide what he or she would want. He added that some families take time together to go to a store to purchase a bike. Newman said this step is meaningful for families and gives children a sense of ownership in the program. Other families set aside the evening before and the day of the distribution to volunteer their time together. Newman acknowledged that many of the children who receive bikes through FCO’s Bikes for Kids are being raised by a grandparent or someone other than their parents. “Family members in this situation are many times under a great deal of financial and emotional stress, so they are very thankful for the gift of a bike,” he said. In the short time Bikes for Kids has been in existence, local school organizations and business have jumped in to help. Volunteers send acceptance let-
continued from pg. 21
ters, load, unload, label, organize the bikes at the distribution site and make cookies for the big day. Over 150 volunteers make the event the success it is and each child receives a T-shirt recognizing the contributing organizations. “It is especially inspiring to see students using their time to help set up and distribute the bikes,” Newman said. Newman is not daunted by the state of the economy, nor is he concerned about the generosity of Shawnee residents this year. Instead, he is encouraged. He pointed out that, as the economy began to take a downturn last year, FCO still received enough donations to give away more bikes than ever before. “I know that even in economically challenging times, God still uses people to bless children,” he said.
Newman explained that families going through hard times often feel alone. By sharing the love of God through the giving of bicycles, Faith Christian Outreach is able to help a family in more ways than one. Not only is the church relieving some financial stress, but they are also able to send a spiritual message to the family of the child receiving the gift. “Our hope is that this ministry helps those families to know that they are not alone and that God is using His people to bless them so that they know that God loves them,” Newman said. Volunteers, bike recipients and their families all benefit from Faith Christian Outreach’s Bikes for Kids event. While Newman said the smiles on the children’s faces say it all, he added that the volunteers are blessed immeasurably. “You can’t outgive God,” he said, explaining that he knows some families make sacrifices in order to participate and give a bike to someone else.
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He has seen these families receive blessings in return for their unselfishness. Bikes for Kids gives volunteers a chance to experience the true meaning of Christmas. Just as God gave his only Son on Christmas day, we have the opportunity to give to others. “This event reminds us to be thankful for the many ways God has blessed us rather than to focus on what we don’t have or still need to buy for Christmas,” Newman said. “It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, but this event gives us the opportunity to pause and really focus on what is truly important.” The church and the Shawnee community have benefited as well. Through this program, some families have become active members of the church and now volunteer on a weekly basis. What started with the simple gift of a bike, has become a blessing for families that are now reaching out within the Shawnee area to help even more families in need. Nominations are due by December 7. This year’s distribution date is set for 10 a.m. December 19 at the Expo Center. For more information on the ministry of Faith Christian Outreach or their Bikes for Kids program, call (405) 275-2988.
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