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Volunteers from Lawton First Assembly dig holes for benches at the Woodland Hills Elementary basketball court during the church’s work day at the school. Lawton First Assembly has adopted Woodland Hills for the 2015-16 school year.Brenda Ivey, librarian at Woodland Hills Elementary, left, receives help from Qmari Williams and Jeremiah Johnson with new books. Williams and Johnson are not students at Woodland Hills but are members of Lawton First Assembly helping to organize the school’s library.

Churches reach out to schools

Lawton churches have reached out their good Samaritan hands and adopted different schools within the city. 

Some churches adopt a different school every year, while others adopt a school for multiple years. With the lack of school funding in the state, the churches help the schools with basic needs.

Lawton First Assembly of God and Woodland Hills

Every year, Lawton First Assembly adopts a school the Lawton Public Schools deems has the most needs. This year the church has adopted Woodland Hills Elementary School. The church hosted a work day last summer in which church members painted doors, cleaned classrooms, organized books and helped teachers in every way they needed. But according to Sam Haubrick, men's ministry leader and point man of the Woodland Hills projects, adopting the church is a year-round venture.

"One thing we like to do is ask the teachers to have projects ready that they want to accomplish throughout the year that they just don't have the time to get done," Haubrick said. "We'll have the ladies of the church or the Forever Young, which is the older group, and just come in and just clip paper or organize the library, just things they don't have time to do."

So far First Assembly has reworked the school's basketball courts by adding to areas that eroded, repainting the lines and installing benches for students to sit on. The church's media department created banners with encouraging words that now hang throughout the school, and it also made gigantic clip boards to hang outside each teacher's classroom to display student artwork.

Woodland Hills also received a professional landscaping makeover thanks to donations from the church. Principal Lisa Carson said that's something the school could have never afforded but desperately needed.

Carson said almost half of the students are military dependents.

"When these new families are coming to town and they're driving the neighborhood and you have a mowed lawn, and you have a landscape and you have a decent playground for kids  they're already forming an opinion on what kind of school you are based on what they're looking at.

"We never had the money to do it, but it was great. I had so many comments about how, 'Wow, your lawn looks beautiful.'"

For the school's meet and greet in August, First Assembly had a hot dog roast with snow cones for parents, teachers and students. The church also gave out backpacks filled with supplies for students who needed them. And during the holiday season the church will decorate the school for Christmas and host a Christmas program for the students. 

Carson believes if people give a little, they can make a big change.

"I'm very proud to be a Lawtonian. I think we have a community that is a generous community that wants to give back, but it takes somebody starting an initiative and it takes people's willingness to get involved because we all know time is the enemy and none of us has enough time," Carson said. "But the greatest thing you can do and the best feeling in your heart is if you give of your time."

Cameron Baptist and Cleveland Elementary

Four years ago, the pastor of Cameron Baptist Church asked the congregation to consider adopting Cleveland Elementary School. Sharon Moon, ladies ministry director, said the church was happy to agree. The church has helped the school purchase desks, power strips and headphones for the school's media center. During the summer on the teachers' work day, the church prepared a lunch for the staff.

"I used to teach, so I know what it's like to have that work day and if you have to leave," Moon said. "It's hard to get your mindset back when you go back into the room. We're just happy that we're able to support them and pray for them."

The Lawton Constitution

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