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Southern Utah News Front Page: December 1, 2016

Southern Utah News Front Page Photo

Food for good thoughts

Susan Honey (left front row) pictured with the group that delivered food to reservation elders near Navajo Mountain for Thanksgiving. Donations from Honey’s and others are greatly appreciated.


By Dixie Brunner

The cheerful, bustling group at Honey’s Marketplace had a benevolent focus – gathering ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal to be delivered to the reservation elders near Navajo Mountain. While many of us would think that it is a wonderful charitable gesture, making the long two hour drive to the reservation might be a bit time-consuming during the busy holiday season.

“This is a blessing for us,” said project organizer Fientje Allis. “We don’t hurry, we want to savor the good feelings we get from doing this. I think we get as much from this as they (the recipients) do!”

Honey’s Marketplace owner Susan Honey and store manager Lance Davis have assembled two enormous pallets, one of water and another of flour, for the Navajo Mountain giveaway. Several of the nine volunteers take the large items out to begin loading into the delivery cars, while the rest grab shopping carts to pick up the other food items on the grocery lists.

Allis, who lives part-time in Kanab and Salt Lake City, has been doing volunteer work on the reservation since 1998. The first outreach Allis organized, with the help of other generous donors, was a couple hundred pounds of locally-grown apples. She said the recipients were appreciative, and the fruit was so welcome to someone living on the dry, isolated reservation.

In addition, she occasionally takes non-perishable food donations to those in need on the reservation. Food items such as cereal, tuna, Vienna sausages and peanut butter are great to feed folks when perishable food supplies run out. Other good supplemental food items are oatmeal, crackers, sugar, canned spaghetti and soups.

She said most people happily step up to share their bounty! Allis said Marty and Sara Mathis, and Grand Canyon Expeditions, have been especially generous. “They just have us come to their warehouse and load up!”

Allis became aware of the Thanksgiving need a couple of years ago while visiting the Senior Center on the reservation. The director commented that many of the elders did not celebrate a Thanksgiving meal. When asked why, she said at month’s end, many of the low-income residents were out of money, and didn’t have the way or means to make the two-hour drive to a big grocery store. Allis added that the elders living on a fixed income, who get between $200-$800 a month in monetary assistance, often run out of food by the fourth week.

In addition, the senior center, where many of them get their only meal of the day, is closed on the holiday weekend from Wednesday to Monday!

She began the Thanksgiving (Navajo Mountain giveaway) food drive last year, and said she’s been charmed by the willingness of people to donate. “They want to share from their bounty,” said Allis. “Most find their blessings more than double!”

This year, Allis and friends also delivered Thanksgiving meals on Monday to Monument Valley. In that remote location, they made home deliveries. When dropping off Thanksgiving meals to the Navajo Mountain recipients, they deliver to the senior center.

One challenge of the food drive is finding drivers to haul the large amount of donations the two and a half hours to the reservation. “This year I have four drivers from Kanab, and four from Salt Lake,” said Allis. She expressed her appreciation to: Gale Reeves, Kanab; Noel and Renee Pierce, Kanab; Dave Parker, Kanab; Jacqui Wittmeyer, Salt Lake; Abi Wittmeyer, New Zealand; Jill Clarke, Lehi; and Amber Shill, Provo.

Who receives the bountiful Thanksgiving meal? Allis lets the reservation’s senior center director make that determination. While the elders are among the primary recipients, the director has also seen a need among young, single parents who are struggling to make ends meet. For those, she has them volunteer some hours to receive a package.

Thanksgiving meal recipients are grateful!

“They are a very proud and independent people, and they are on no one’s radar!” said Allis. “One elder told me that by giving him food I wanted him to live – thank you.”

Another recipient began to cry and said she didn’t understand why people who didn’t even know them were willing and wanted to help like this.

But what’s for Thanksgiving dinner, you ask? The care packages contain a turkey or turkey breast, green beans, corn, broth, butter sticks, pie, Blue Bird flour and bottled water.

Honey’s Marketplace and Susan Honey are generous donors to the Navajo Mountain giveaway. Allis appreciates all the extra work the project is for the grocery’s employees.

She also thinks Susan Honey is just a special person. They met through a common friend, Madge Atkin, who has since passed away. She said Atkin was a wonderful spiritual woman as well, who would pray for Allis’ safety when she went on her volunteer trips to the reservation.

“I’d like to thank those in the community who have so readily given to this food drive,” said Allis. “The recipients measure the giving by the amount of sacrifice and effort the gift required.”

She stressed that donations don’t always just come in the form of food items or money; they also come in the form of prayer! She said many who are unable to help financially offer prayers for the hearts, spirits and safety of both those receiving the food, as well as those who organize and deliver it!

“That’s the beauty,” said Allis, “so many hands coming together!”

It’s a season and reason for joy and gratitude.

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