THE 3RD ANNUAL OKC SANTA CRAWL IS SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13TH, 2020!
From Bricktown to Auto Alley to Midtown, a sea of Santas will be roaming the streets of OKC in search of fun – be a part of the 2020 OKC Santa Crawl!
On Sunday December 13th, Oklahoma City will literally be crawling with Santas! This one-day, adult-centered Santa Convention will feature hundreds of costumed Santas marching the streets of OKC. Starting with a Kickoff Celebration at 10am at Louie’s in Midtown and ending at 6pm, participants will be encouraged to wear holiday costumes (Santas, Mrs. Claus, Reindeers, Christmas trees, etc.) and walk bar to bar for special deals at each stop.
There will be several opportunities for Santas to stop and participate in activities – including a costume contest, singing Christmas Carols, dance contest and games.
OKC Santa Crawl will donate a portion of the participants’ ticket cost to charity. The charity for 2020 is Other Options, Inc. More details will be coming soon – including all of the participating Santa Stops. Check back here in the coming weeks!
We’re partnering with the Plaza District for a Holiday Food Drive and Angel Tree on Saturday, November 28th.
We’ll have the Other Options sprinter, Angel Trees and Tables/Boxes to accept food donations and help the public select clients from our Angel Tree or drop off gifts. Angel Tree gifts we’re accepting include $20 amazon gift cards, games/puzzles, and passes to zoo/museums/waterpark, etc.
This is an outdoor event, so please dress for the weather. Fun holiday attire encouraged! Hand sanitizer and gloves will be provided. Although this is an outdoor event, we encourage you to also wear a mask.
In 2010, Ladonna felt alone for the first time in 52 years. Multiple family illnesses led to untimely deaths, leaving her to fend for herself despite her own struggles with bipolar disorder, severe social anxiety and eventually multiple sclerosis. After some time, she spoke with the Oklahoma Health Department about ways to secure food, and one of their suggestions was Other Options – a local nonprofit organization providing various services to at-risk individuals, with a focus on those affected with HIV and AIDS. Ladonna eventually attended after hunger overcame anxiety.
“It takes a lot for me to feel comfortable anywhere,” Ladonna says. “When I went there for the first time, I didn’t feel like I was being judged; I felt like my mother was there again. She was the only one who understood me. For the first time since they left me, I knew I had a family, a place to belong to.”
Other Options became a surrogate family to Ladonna; a sentiment shared by the nonprofit’s volunteers and those who regularly rely on their care.
Founded in 1988 by Cookie Arbuckle, Other Options is a staple within the metro area for those in need of nutritious food, clothing and other necessities for survival. Now operated by Cookie’s daughter, Mary, this service extended to a mainstay in holiday hospitality: Cookie’s Thanksgiving. Since 1999, this annual event provides over 1,000 in-need families and individuals with prepared Thanksgiving meals, either in person or delivered upon request. Many, including Ladonna, look forward to this holiday with a newfound appreciation.
“Thanksgiving can be a hard time for a lot of us because there’s plenty that don’t have no one else,” Ladonna says. “I try to visit every day to see my family, but Thanksgiving is different. That’s when everyone gets to see why these people are God-sent. But, this year is going to be different.”
Readjustments to daily life, holidays and annual traditions are hallmarks of COVID-19 world. This weight of planning for a pandemic-friendly Cookie’s Thanksgiving is a task not lost on people like Mary Arbuckle and Jim Everett, the Pantry Manager of Other Options. Plans to modify the in-house holiday began as early as March.
“We knew things would not be ‘business as usual’ for Cookie’s Thanksgiving back when the rest of the country was coming to grips with everything,” Everett says. “Because of this, we’re having our volunteers prepare boxed meals and either delivering them to their houses or through our drive-thru service. This is to ensure that everyone is safe while still being fed.”
For those like Ladonna, this is a difficult, though necessary, transition.
“God, I miss my Other Option family every day,” Ladonna says. “But it’s things like Cookie’s Thanksgiving that remind me that I’ll never be alone.”
Everett continues to welcome all donation and volunteer efforts towards Cookie’s Thanksgiving. Donation and volunteer opportunities can be found on the Other Options website at otheroptionsokc.org.
Other Options-Friends Food Pantry offers a great place for people to exercise the power of community. It is amazing to see the support that people provide to help those in need, and many of these folks have been or are currently clients of Friends food pantry. The cycle of helping others when you can help and accepting help when you have a need makes for a strong community. Friends food pantry offers a fun environment for volunteering, being a volunteer at the Friends food pantry is like being a member of a family, we support each other as we support others. Volunteering brings a feeling of happiness and accomplishment, and for younger volunteers it also leads to increased empathy and compassion. If you have a need to use the services of the Food Bank, please do. That is why we are here, to help during tough times, and remember, you do not have to be “poor” to use the pantry. If we can help you keep your car or pay the utilities by supplying you with food, let us do that.
If you wish to support an organization that is right here in your hometown serving your community, please do. We need your support; without your support we cannot exist. Lately with the pandemic I’m feeling the weight on my shoulders, sometimes I feel overwhelmed and tired but if people can wait in long lines for food, I can get up and go to work so that their cupboards are not bare. We all must do something we must build a more just and equitable society where no person goes hungry.
If that feels like that is a tall task, here are some simple things you can do to help others (and your own mental health):
Give: Nonprofits that have been responding to the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact are facing significantly increased costs. We will need your continued support in the ongoing crisis. Do your research, find a charity you trust that speaks to your heart and donate to support its efforts.
Volunteer: Yes, this may feel like a worrisome time to be among other humans. Many charities that need your help have implemented new safety measures for volunteers. Get out of the house and help others, you will feel better and you might make some new friends.
Vote: Hunger knows no political party. We should all be able to agree that no one should go hungry. This fall, we are urging everyone to vote in the November election to ensure all voices are heard, particularly those who are typically disenfranchised, and to strengthen the safety net for our most vulnerable neighbors.
I do not know what tomorrow brings but I have made a pledge that I will keep Other Options and Friends food pantry doors open. Please help me to do this task by doing the simple ones that will help keep our doors open.
What we cannot do alone WE can do together!
Guiding Right is now able to offer the delivery of at-home rapid testing kits for the detection of HIV, providing a self-help option for fast results in minutes. The tests are designed with a simple, easy-to-use process for patients to test themselves without needing a medical professional.
Your privacy is protected by the secure website form and our data services as required by federal HIPAA laws.
Like you, we have watched the Coronavirus (COVID-19) carefully. We understand your concerns and we share them. In keeping with our pledge to provide our clients the best pantry experience and resources, we’d like to tell you what we’re doing to help keep you safe during a time of uncertainty.
Rest assured, our volunteers have been working diligently to keep you safe and our services in operation as much as we can. Other Options have spent decades fighting stigmas like HIV and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Is no different. We have been carefully evaluating the situation, following the guidance of public health officials local and federal. Of course, our volunteers are required to stay home if ill and we have strict guidelines in place to protect their health and our clients. We are implementing precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, including increasing the frequency and sophistication of sanitation procedures, adding staff for ongoing cleaning throughout the day, and additional hand sanitizer for our customers’ use.
As this dynamic situation evolves, we may need to close temporarily in accordance with public health guidelines. We will follow public health guidelines as we make these decisions with our client’s and volunteers’ health as our top priority. Please check our website (www.otheroptionsokc.org) social media (Facebook – Other Options) or call our office for an update.
On March 14th we enacted strict shopping protocols for clients shopping. We asked that our clients follow these protocols as they are in place to help maintain your health as well as our volunteers. In the coming days, we may have to go a step further and limit client’s access to the building.
Here are a few things that we’re asking of you our clients and our volunteers.
Stay home if you have flu-like symptoms or a bad cough.
Restrict your movements to public locations and events stay home and stay safe as much as possible.
Observe proper and frequent handwashing, sanitizing and cleaning of hard surfaces that are frequently touched.
If you believe that you have come in contact or may be infected with Coronavirus (COVID-19) please contact your local Doctor or the Oklahoma Health Department.
We are committed to providing the same high standards and exceptional experience you have come to expect from us while ensuring the safety of our volunteers and clients.
Cher Golding, Board President / Mary Arbuckle, Executive Director / Jim Everett, Pantry Manager
This year, our designers are creating one-of-a-kind runway looks to celebrate the icons of the Silver Screen. Whether avant-garde or chic wearable styles, this year’s show is sure to impress. This year’s event showcases world-class, award-winning designer Nicole Moan, Former Project Runway designer Johnathan Kayne, as well as local designer Cody Johnson. In addition some of our models will feature accessories from local businesses including Betsy King Shoe Boutique, Armando Ortiz’s Creative Studio, and Marla Cook Hats.