It has been six years since one of the biggest tragedies of the decade struck Southern Oklahoma.
After East Central University baseball player Chris Lane was murdered in 2013 in Duncan, parents in the area were fearful and wondered what they could do to help prevent such attacks in the future.
Out of the darkness, the Beautiful Day Foundation was born.
The Beautiful Day Foundation was founded by Leah Mitchell of Duncan who, along with other parents, felt they needed a change.
“You could sort of just sense this feeling that everyone was realizing something was wrong with our young people,” Mitchell said. “An overarching theme through the town at that time was someone needed to do something.”
The Beautiful Day Foundation’s mission is to let children in communities feel loved by those around them. Each month volunteers head to schools involved with the program and celebrate kids that have a birthday during the month.
Volunteers visit the elementary school children and bring them pizza. The volunteers then sit with the kids and talk to them throughout the lunch period in an effort to make them feel special.
Currently, the Beautiful Day Foundation is in 20 school districts throughout the state of Oklahoma, with Davis and Sulphur recently joining.
Area organizer for the foundation in Davis is Jennie Melton, and she found out about the program through Sulphur schools.
Melton was approached to start the program and, after visiting the foundation’s website, jumped at the opportunity to bring it to Davis.
“I loved the premise of it and celebrating kids in elementary school, letting them know the day they were born was a beautiful day,” Melton said. “Letting the children know the community sees them, that we care about them, that we love them and that we are here for them.”
Davis started their sign up for volunteers on Aug. 20, and plans on having their first Beautiful Day Foundation party at the elementary school on Sept. 13.
All volunteers go through a background check before being accepted to the program.
Davis Elementary Principal Tammie Webb was excited when Melton approached her about bringing the program to her school. Seeing her young students feel appreciated by people in her community makes Webb a proud member of the Davis community.
“How we look at it is a way to intertwine mentors in our community with our kids and show the kids in our school system the day they were born was a beautiful day,” Webb said. “From one side, those kids that maybe don’t get those birthday celebrations at home. From our standpoint, we see some of those kids who don’t get that, but also in learning about this program we also see that even for those kids that do get those birthday celebrations, it is very important to them, too. To sit down and just have a conversation with an adult or mentor and sit down and just talk to them.”
To sign up or volunteer with the program, visit beautifuldayfoundation.net for more details.
“Young people in a community, there are a bunch of studies that show their decisions in a community are affected, their decisions change based on the level of connection they feel to the community they call home,” Mitchell said. “I think our main goal everyday is to weave communities closer together.”