Ten area teachers recently received a back to school surprise from First Presbyterian Church. The church gave each educator a $100 gift card to Walmart to purchase supplies for their classroom. 

Lori Hoke has been a member of the church for over 30 years and serves as moderator of the deacons. A former educator herself, Hoke said teachers often spend their own money purchasing supplies for the students.

“To get the kids the things they really need, you end up spending so much of your own money,” Hoke said. “I used to buy snacks for my kids all the time because my children didn’t eat lunch until noon. They had PE in the morning, so by 11 o’clock they were starving.”

Hoke said the church has been giving out back to school gift cards to teachers in the congregation for several years. This year they’ve expanded the project and have included teachers who are not church members.

“This year we decided we’d expand because we know that all teachers are in need of things for their classrooms,” Hoke said. “Another deacon and I both taught in the Ardmore school system. So we selected people that we knew for sure could use some help.”

Hoke said the church is involved in numerous other community projects. In fact, over the summer they worked on gathering supplies for another set of teachers.

“In May we put up what we call the giving tree,” Hoke said. “We asked our member teachers and some others what their classroom needs are, and we wrote them on little apples and hung it on the giving tree. Our members picked the apples off the tree and purchased all those items.”

The collected supplies were sorted at the beginning of August then distributed to the teachers who made the requests. Hoke said between these two projects the church has helped around 20 teachers so far this school year.