By Travis Sloat
Hope Kids Outreach, a non-profit organization for kids with “extra challenges,” is holding its first major fundraiser Saturday night, something they’re calling “Taste of the Holidays.”
It’s an inagural event that the organization plans to hold annually, said Dr. J’nene Rogers, who is a part of the outreach program. The event runs from 4 to 8 p.m. at Boulevard Christian Church.
Visitors of Taste of the Holidays will receive a tasting kit, with unlimited access to the vendors who will be providing sampes of their wares. Rogers said there were a variety of booths to choose from.
“We will have a lot of delicious foods for people to try,” she said. “There will be barbecue, homemade chili, cornbread, baked goods, candy, and more.”
Rogers said the organization has had many smaller fundraisers, but have never attempted one of this magnitude.
“This is our maiden voyage with a big fundraiser,” Rogers said. “It’s a great cause, we have a big need in Muskogee and the surrounding areas for these kids. We’re hoping to have a really big turnout.”
Kim Haile, the president of HKO, said the mission of the outreach is to improve the quality of life for kids experiencing developmental issues.
“We’ve been around few years under this name,” Haile said. “We have kids come in and work on fine motor skills, reading skills, and social skills.”
The main purpose of the fundraiser is to help provide money and resources to HKO, which is in need of salaries for the teachers and therapists, as well as for equipment like therapy related toys and iPads, which have been proven to help kids with autism.
Haile said she felt like the fundraiser has definitely gotten off to a good start.
“We have 18-20 vendors right now, and I still have people calling and asking,” she said. “We want to make an annual thing out of this, and we’d like to build on it each year by bringing in some bigger names.”
Rogers said she helped found HKO because she noticed that if people wanted services beyond what is already offered in Muskogee, they had to travel.
“I have a son who is 6 now, and we do a lot of occupational and speech therapy with him,” Rogers said. “We have to travel a lot, and so we decided to start HKO so people wouldn’t have to do that.”
Hope Kids Outreach goes a step further by offering an inclusion program into Boulevard Christian School. Dr. Rogers said it provides them with an opportunity to socialize with their “typical peers” which is a very important part of development.
“We hope to see everyone in Muskogee out here,” she said. “And I’d also like to thank all of our sponsors. Without them, this wouldn’t be possible.”