The Greater Tulsa Association of REALTORS® is making a difference in the lives of hundreds of children in the metropolitan Tulsa area through its nonprofit GTAR Foundation.
The GTAR Foundation runs the REALTORS® association’s Backpacks for Kids program, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The project is much more than what its name implies: It is not a program to gather school supplies for children, but rather a year-long project spearheaded by the association’s 3,600 member REALTORS®.
The project begins each year with a list of children’s names provided by Tulsa’s Family & Children’s Services. REALTORS® partner with Wal-Mart to completely outfit each of those children for school. Backpacks for Kids distributes approximately 350 full backpacks. Stuffing the backpacks is a week-long project that the REALTORS® begin in July. Along with a brand new backpack, each child is given school clothes — including pants, shirts, underwear and socks — and toiletries such as toothbrushes and toothpaste. Diapers and baby formula are provided for families with infants.
The culmination of the project occurs the week before school starts when the REALTORS® host a Backpacks for Kids Pizza Party. The party is a community affair and frequently includes programs from the fire department, the police department, and local hospitals. Pizza is served, games are played, and each child leaves with a personalized stuffed backpack.
Since the program started in 2005, the REALTORS® have raised over $120,000 for Backpacks for Kids. The initial yearly fundraising goal was $15,000. The current goal is $25,000.
Tulsa REALTORS® are proud that the GTAR Foundation has zero administrative costs. Every penny collected by the association is used for charitable purposes. The Greater Tulsa Association of REALTORS® not only provides the money for the foundation’s good works, but member REALTORS® also provide all of the manpower needed for its projects.
According to Mike Cotrill, CEO of the Greater Tulsa Association of REALTORS®, this year alone the REALTORS® Association has already collected $11,958 through donations and a wine-pull event. The REALTORS® Association is currently preparing for its second-annual golf tournament, which has already raised over $14,000.
The Greater Tulsa Association of REALTORS® is making the Tulsa metropolitan area a better place for children in need.