Crutcho School, located at the corner of Sooner Road and N.E. 23rd Street in Oklahoma City, Okla., for more than 100 years, is a single-site, pre K-8th grade school in a low-income district. All of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunches, and the district is primarily Section 8 housing.
Former Oklahoma Sooner and NFL Chicago Bear fullback J.D. Runnels speaks to students about the importance of dressing for success.
Justin Ford, senior pastor at Oakdale Baptist Church in Edmond, Okla., recognized a need in the nearby Oklahoma City-area community in 2008. The church began to partner with the school, and the relationship still flourishes today.
“When we had the opportunity of participating in an impactful ministry to young boys, we knew we couldn’t pass it up,” Ford said.
Crutcho hosted its first Tie Day Feb. 14, where local businessmen were invited to come and invest time with male students by teaching them how to tie a tie and the importance of being successful, productive men in society.
More than 150 men were involved with Tie Day, and hundreds of ties were donated for the event.
Carlos Robinson, one of the men who spoke at the event, said, “It’s about showing people that I’m going to put my best foot forward today. In order to be a man, they need to see a man, so that’s the difference we’re trying to make in our community.”
According to the National Center for Fathering, children in a home where a father is not present are almost four times more likely to be at poverty level. Fatherless children are also at a greater risk for drug and alcohol abuse. This makes mentorship opportunities like Tie Day imperative.
Brian Williams works with a student on his tie.
J.D. Runnels, former Oklahoma Sooner and Chicago Bears fullback, spoke to students about the importance of doing your best. Runnels, now a business owner and entrepreneur, grew up in Midwest City and attended Carl Albert High School, which is a short drive from Crutcho.
Teresa McAfee, superintendent of Crutcho School said, “We had more ties and men than we needed. We had representatives from the Highway Patrol, the Sheriff’s department, police department, pastors, congressmen, educators, NFL players and more. You never know when that one moment will be the moment that makes a difference for a child.”
Through the relationship established between Oakdale Baptist Church and Crutcho, the congregation has been able to share the gospel and teach the students the importance of having a relationship with Christ.
“Since Oakdale formed a partnership with Crutcho School eight years ago, the leadership at Crutcho has made it clear that they believe our church efforts have a direct and positive impact on students that are often in significant need,” Ford said. “Over the years, Oakdale has been allowed to provide volunteer staff, work days, prayer support for school staff, meals for PTA meetings, tutors and even birthday cakes for each student on their birthday.”
Through Tie Day and just one hour a week, volunteers have built relationships with the boys at Crutcho that have appeared to impact not only the boys, but the volunteers as well. Those involved in the effort believe a tie could open a door to a promising future filled with Christ’s love.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Stephanie Boone is a communications assistant Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. This article first appeared in The Baptist Messenger baptistmessenger.com, newsjournal of the BGCO.)