OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Jackson County office of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) joined forces with community partners to provide a happier Christmas for nearly 800 needy children.
‘Project Noel’ is a joint effort between OKDHS and the First United Methodist Church in Altus to provide Christmas gifts to children in low income families in Jackson County. The church sponsors the event every year. Anyone who received benefit assistance through OKDHS – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or SoonerCare – was eligible to receive gifts through Project Noel.
Children filled out 'wish lists' and Child Welfare Services partnered with a local motorcycle club that held a 'toy run' to raise the money needed to purchase the toys which were then donated to Project Noel and distributed to needy children. Mike Pate is a retired OKDHS Social Services Specialist and a member of the church. "The motorcycle club helped us provide a great Christmas gift for lots of children," he said.
Gifts were also purchased using cash donations from church members and from OKDHS staff who raised $480 through cookouts and T-shirt sales. Michael Barnes, OKDHS Social Services Specialist, says Melanie Lesley and the entire OKDHS Child Welfare staff in Jackson County also donated toys to Project Noel and helped make the day very special for hundreds of children.