Last Thanksgiving, the Southern Utah News reported on a touching humanitarian effort by a group of concerned citizens and local businesses. It was a large and coordinated outreach to provide a Thanksgiving dinner for isolated seniors on the Navajo reservation.

Project organizer Fientje Allis became aware of the need several years ago while visiting the senior center on the reservation near Navajo Mountain. The director commented that many of the elders did not celebrate a Thanksgiving meal. When asked why, the director said at month’s end, many of the 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.

To add insult to injury, the senior center where many of them receive their only meal of the day is closed on the holiday weekend from Wednesday to Monday!

Allis said the need is still there, and the Charity Anywhere organization is currently organizing and will be collecting cash and item donations for the 2017 Thanksgiving Navajo Reservation food drive. She shares the following:

“The real heroes on the Navajo reservation, and of this story, are the community health workers and coordinators of the senior centers who are tasked with the well-being, health and often survival of the people in their care in the absence of care facilities, with often little means to do so,” said Allis. “Their clients live in remote areas often on their own, with family far away. The health workers and the senior center are their life-line.”

Allis said the charitable work to oil the wheel, so to speak, is just that, a small way to assist the healthcare workers in their jobs and to fill some of their humble, but real, needs. They also source wheelchairs, ambulatory aids, hygiene products and blankets throughout the year as requested and identified by the reservation healthcare workers.

“We order the food for the 50 packages at Honey’s Marketplace, who help with this and other ways to provide a Thanksgiving dinner,” explained Allis. “Other local businesses like Grand Canyon Expeditions have helped with additional non-perishable food items from their warehouse. All of the food is carried by volunteers to Navajo Mountain and distributed from the senior center on needs as identified by the coordinator.”

In addition, another group of volunteers take food boxes donated and/or put together by service groups, families, or individuals to Shonto and Monument Valley for the homebound. This year Allis said they also had a donation of comforters from Quality Inn.

“We welcome donations for the dinner packages, and non-perishable food,” said Allis. “Everything helps (money and food donations) and we ask that if this is not your year, to please find a place in your heart to keep these recipients who are on nobody’s radar, but whose needs are real, in your thoughts and prayers as those who make this giveaway possible. If we share from what we have, we can all enjoy Thanksgiving.”

For information, contact Fientje Allis at 801-903-8641. Donations are tax deductible. Feel free to share with anyone you think might be interested in participating. Checks can be made out to Charity Anywhere, 247 N Main, Kanab, UT 84741.