PRYOR, OK —
Final preparations are being made for Great Days of Service Mayes County and the excitement is catching on.
The week-long event began in 2007 and features county-wide participation in a food drive as well as community projects.
More than 17,000 pounds of food was gathered last year. Volunteers complete beautification projects around their communities. Blankets and quilts are made and distributed.
This year, the food bags will arrive at residences on Monday, Oct. 7. Each paper bag will have a letter attached with instructions as to the pickup of food as well as suggestions of food pantry items.
“All of the food collected in each community will stay in that community,” Pryor Area Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Hawkins said. “Every participating community has a local food bank that can be helped by those donations.”
Grocery pickup will be Saturday, Oct. 12, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thunderbird Youth Academy cadets will join other volunteers to canvas communities picking up food donations.
Pryor’s Your Place Church is hosting a backpack program food drive to benefit the Boys & Girls Club who send backpacks full of food and snacks home with their kids weekly.
Several beautification projects are taking shape in Pryor. Volunteers will clean up welcome signs and do some landscaping. Pryor Rotary Club has adopted Centennial Park for a day of cleanup on Oct. 12.
Participants in the latest Mayes County Leadership Academy recently completed their extensive project at the Mayes County Fairground. The group secured funds to construct a new entrance to the exibition building, including painting and wood staining in the entryway and repair of the bathrooms.
High School Leadership students will be paired with L.O.F.T. (Leadership of Future Tigers) fourth, fifth and sixth graders in the coming weeks to do cleanup projects at the local elementary schools.
The O.D. “Jock” Mayor Foundation has been key in funding assistance for Great Days of Service, not only in Mayes County but in Grayson County, Texas.
Because of available grant money, Hawkins was able to share the funds.
“If the chambers in the other communities want to plan a project, we can offer them up to $1,000 with matching funds and it can be in kind,” Hawkins said. “In kind” means that the communities who participate can match funds with labor provided by volunteers for the project.
“The Great Day project must benefit the entire community,” Hawkins said. “For example, if volunteers wanted to paint a building on Main Street, we could supply the paint and accessories (with the shared money) and they could do the work.”
Hawkins suggested if residents have project ideas for their community, they should contact their local Chamber of Commerce.
Great Days week also serves as the kick-off for the PACC Angel Tree program. More than 800 children in Mayes County were served last year in the Angel Tree program.
In September, there were several collection efforts for children’s underwear and socks, including area churches hosting Undies Sunday. The need was realized last year, which marked the first time the Chamber oversaw the massive program.
“We know how much children need underwear and socks and we were somewhat amazed at how expensive those items can be,” Hawkins said. This year’s collection effort was very successful and donations are still being tallied.
Hawkins admits last year was a learning experience and the assistance they received was invaluable.
“We are so grateful for the help we received from the counselors in the Pryor School system,” Hawkins said. “They went far and above in their efforts to assist us and we couldn’t have done it without them.”
For more information on Great Days of Service, to volunteer, or to share project ideas, contact your local Chamber of Commerce. Pryor: 825-0157, Chouteau: 476-8222, Locust Grove: 479-6336, Salina: 434-8181.