‘Project School Supply’ Reaches Goal

Contributing Writer

IMPORTANT GIFT: McAlister’s Deli donates a large sum to ‘Project School Supply’ to benefit area students in need. Looking on at right is Kristi Cohea of TTCU with Steven Hudgins, David Alva, Frank Derakeneire, Jamie Weatherly and Larry John.

Employees of McAlister’s Deli joined with TTCU, Cox Communications and KXOJ Radio in a successful fund-raising campaign of more than $65,000 for the Restore Hope Ministries “Project School Supply” program for school children in need.

Kristi Brooks Cohea, vice president of marketing for TTCU, explains that the fund-raising effort, which helps more than 3,000 children, was enhanced with a late donation from McAlister’s Deli. She says, “McAlister’s representatives contacted us about helping after reading an article about the program in one of the GTR Newspapers this summer. Their donation helped us reach our goal.”

McAlister’s Associate General Manager Steven Hudgins explains, “McAlister’s is well known as far as giving back to the community. The way we see it, the community supports us, so we try to give back any way we can.”

Hudgins says that the Tulsa McAlister’s Deli, located at 91st Street and Memorial Drive, already has a plan in place for helping community projects. The store pays its employees wages higher than most restaurants and collects all tips for the purpose of donation. It advertises this policy in-store, as well as announcing where the collected tips are going. Currently, the store is collecting for the Hurricane Katrina relief, but for the month of August, it was all about getting kids ready for school.

“What better opportunity is there for us to step in and say we want to help our kids?” says Hudgins. “After all, ultimately, they’re going to be the people supporting us.”

Restore Hope’s Executive Director, Lawrence Johnson, couldn’t agree more.

“I moved here from another state,” he says, “and one of the first things I bumped into was a news article discussing how teachers and counselors were dipping into their own pockets to provide their kids with supplies. I just couldn’t believe they had to do this, on top of everything else they’re already doing for these kids.”

Restore Hope’s Project School Supplies program is in its 17th year, and it’s fourth working partnering with TTCU, which provides its seven Tulsa-area locations for individuals to drop off donations.

The Project School Supply program benefits students from grades K-12. Johnson says, “It hinders the daily school plan if the kids don’t have the supplies. This successful fund drive will help the young students to be better prepared.”

TTCU’s involvement has helped the program grow, and thanks to sponsors like KXOJ and Cox Communications, that growth looks to continue in coming years.

“Without TTCU, we wouldn’t have these contacts,” says Johnson. “They’ve been a real blessing. We have a base now that I think will go beyond where we’ve been before.”

This year McAlister’s Deli can add its name to that list.

“This was a combined effort of our management team,” says Hudgins. “We came together and made the decision to help. This team has tried to make a great effort in helping kids.”

For Johnson, that’s all that matters.

“It gives the children a means to start the first day of school the way it ought to start.”

Updated 09-28-2005

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