Children at Oaks Indian Mission opening their presents. Different Native American student groups are also featured in attendance.

The Native American Student Association is organizing an angel tree event, along with a Christmas party, for a local mission school in the Oaks community. The student group has been organizing this annual event since 2006 and hopes to continue the event for the foreseeable future.

“We call the mission and set up a date that we think works best for both groups,” said Tiana Long, NASA president. “This event is about us being able to give back to our community. This is an Indian mission school that serves children from a bunch of different tribes, so it also gives us a chance to have conversations with these students about the paths available after high school.”

Oaks Indian Mission has a long history, dating back to the Moravian Missionaries in 1801, but the mission as most know it today established itself in May 1980. Cottages were formed for a family environment with cottage parents present 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The mission serves children ages 4-18, who are all placed there by families, legal guardians, tribes, courts, or DHS.

“This will be my second time participating in this event,” said Grace Hilton, NASA public relations officer. “It was a lot of fun playing games and getting to know some of the kids there. It’s nice to see their faces light up when they unwrap their gifts. We played small games like, duck-duck-goose, ninja, and our own Native version of ships and sailors. It might have taken a little time for them to warm up to us, but after a little conversations and food we made sure to leave with good memories.”

NASA receives wish lists from the mission and organizes with faculty, students, and staff to get gifts for each child. A deadline is made for the gifts in order for the student group to facilitate a wrapping party with refreshments and materials for the participants to wrap their gifts together, which usually occurs the night before.

“These kids might come from a troubled background or because they had nowhere else to go,” said Bradley Fields, NASA vice president. “I grew up playing baseball with a some of them, and a few of them didn’t finish high school. I like to think that by having this event we are able to give them all a chance to see the other side and give them something to strive for in their adult life.”

For more information about the event, visit NASA on Facebook at Northeastern State University NASA, email nasa@nsuok.edu, or call 918-444-3044.

For more information about Oak Indian Mission, visit their website oaksindianmission.org.

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