, Muskogee, OK

July 11, 2013

Keetoowahs offer clothing vouchers

Tribe helps kids, families get ready for school

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— With Muskogee area schools starting in less than a month, area businesses, organizations and individuals want to ensure children have the supplies they need.

The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians is helping its young citizens afford clothing for the school year.

The UKB has increased the amount of its clothing vouchers it offers families. All UKB youth from kindergarten through 12th grade who are enrolled in school can qualify for the program. Voucher amounts are $100 for children through eighth grade, an increase from $75 last year. Vouchers for grades 9 through 12 went from $100 to $125.

The program is open to any family enrolled in the UKB.

The Keetoowahs also are providing free backpacks, filled with school supplies, for children ages 4 to 12. Child Development Center Director Lala Durossette said about 800 backpacks have been ordered.

Some organizations say they need help helping others.

“We are now in desperate need of donations,” said Jennifer Hollingshead, customer service representative of Farmer’s Insurance, 112 E. Peak Blvd. She and her mother, insurance agent Juanita Blair, conduct an annual supply drive and giveaway, helping nearly 2,500 students.

Hollingshead said the drive will accept monetary donations as well as donations of school supplies.

Monetary donations could help them buy school supplies in bulk, she said. For example, a $100 donation could buy 200 school boxes, an $800 donation could buy 800 boxes of Crayola markers, a $1,500 donation could buy 2,000 packs of notebook paper and 1,500 spiral notebooks, she said.

“We’re looking for businesses, churches, anyone who can donate,” Hollingshead said, adding that several churches have taken up a love offering in the past.

The Muskogee Public Schools Transportation Department is collecting school boxes for MPS students through Operation Pencil Box. MPS Transportation Director Robert Brewster said the program received 100 boxes at last year’s drive. The boxes are taken to Muskogee schools and distributed to kids who need one, he said.

Brewster said he is not seeking financial donations, but school boxes and the following items: Blunt-nose scissors, box of 24 crayons,  pack of colored pencils, two-packs of #2 pencils, two glue sticks, two erasers, two black dry erase markers.

Firstar Bank also is conducting its school supply drive through July 31. Supplies may be dropped at any of Firstar’s eight locations or businesses participating in the drive.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

School supply collection drives

• Firstar Bank, collecting school supplies through July at its eight locations, plus  Arrowhead Mall, 501 N. Main St.; Muskogee Public Library, 801 W. Okmulgee Ave.; Kmart, 4 E. Shawnee Bypass; Fairview Baptist Church  3510 W. Peak Blvd.; Office Depot, 201 W. Martin Luther King St., and Family Dollar, S. 1325 York St., as well as Hastings, Champion Fitness and Big Lots at Curt’s Center.

• Juanita Blair Farmer’s Insurance Agency, taking monetary donations and school supplies at its office, 112 E. Peak Blvd. or 3 Rivers Auto Collision, 2631 Main St. Information: (918) 687-7052.

• Muskogee Public Schools Operation Pencil Box. Bring school box filled with supplies to Transportation Office, 621 Altamont St.

If your program is collecting school supplies or know of a drive, contact Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

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Cherokee Nation employees will take applications for $100 gift cards for school children within its jurisdiction. Applications are taken from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the following locations, July 19, Fort Gibson High School and Middle School cafeteria; July 26 and 30, Sequoyah School, The Place Where They Play, upper level.

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United Keetoowah Band clothing voucher and backpack distribution sites are:

• Canadian District, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. July 26, Ataloa Lodge, Bacone College.

• Tahlequah District, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. UKB Wellness Center.