Tahlequah First Baptist Church hosted a teacher appreciation event Tuesday, treating Cherokee County educators to lunch and "blessings bags."
"We appreciate the teachers, administrators, and support staff of Tahlequah and Cherokee County schools. We support them and we'll be praying for them," said TFBC Pastor Buddy Hunt. "This is one way we can reach out to our community and share the love of God."
Church members donated all types of items to fill 400 goody bags, which they met Sunday to do.
"It went very smoothly. We had so many people show up Sunday afternoon. With lots of hands, you can accomplish a lot," said Janalyn Satterwhite, TFBC preschool minister. "Giving church members an opportunity to serve the community is important. It's about serving others and loving others."
Teachers from all over the town and county showed up, and 80 meals and bags were sent to Sequoyah High School.
"We did a teacher appreciation luncheon during this time about seven or eight years ago; it was for Tahlequah Public Schools during training time," said Hunt. "This is the first time for all the schools and the first time doing the blessing bags."
The TFBC Missions Committee spearheaded the project.
"All the boys and girls from church gathered reams of paper. We got kids involved through VBS. They had a little competition between the boys and girls," said Satterwhite. "It's all of the church working together."
Items available on a table or in the goody bags included: crayons, staples, hand sanitizer, notebook paper, highlighters, sanitizing wipes, cardstock, binder clips, inspirational cards, little snacks and candies for the teachers, and more.
Boxed lunches of wraps and pasta salad were available, along with water. Teachers could either eat in the church activity center or take the box to go.
"Many teachers have open house tonight and they've been appreciative. This may be their dinner," said Satterwhite.
Any leftover food will be donated to the Tahlequah Day Center, and the school items will be used as needed, or saved.
"We will probably put them back so we can do this again next year. We will use the bags for other projects, probably for the homeless. We coordinate with the Day Center a lot," said Satterwhite.
The tables were decorated with table cloths, mini-chalkboards, books, magnetic letters, prayer request cards, and vases with flowers.
Some groups of teachers came in together, and they had heard about the event from other teachers and Facebook posts. One table was full of Tahlequah High School teachers enjoying the lunch, and they all said the event was awesome.
"I thought it was great there was paper. It's always needed," said Kelsey Armstrong, THS teacher. "It's nice it was all the schools."
Michaela Gibson, THS teacher, said she appreciated the printer paper and Clorex wipes.
"I got crayons for my classroom, even though we're high school. We do a lot of projects. And a teacher can never turn down bags to carry stuff in," said Gibson.
Barbie Casey, Greenwood Elementary School teacher, said she had already spent $100 of her own money on supplies.
"This saves a lot of money. I just went and bought crayons, and I got two free boxes here. That's money that doesn't have to come out of my family budget for school," said Casey.
Her fellow GES teacher, Chrissy Waldhoer, liked that TPS was helping out the classes this year, as elementary school students did not have supplies lists.
"This type of stuff from the community really makes us feel special," said Waldhoer.