Bringing Thanksgiving to the Navajo Reservation
by Fientje Allis
Thanksgiving is on the horizon, and as in previous years, a group of Kanab residents and friends in the Salt Lake City area are starting to prepare for another delivery of food boxes, produce, water and turkeys to the at-risk households, the homebound and the elderly on the Navajo reservation.
The COVID pandemic has hit the Navajo nation particularly hard both in people terms and overall supply shortages. Many elderly passed away, including a number of medicine men, the keepers of the culture. Several community health care workers quit their jobs with the stress of the Delta variant, leaving additional work loads on the few left behind.
Those households living in remote areas, could neither travel under lock-down, nor trust that aid would reach them because of their isolation. And the situation was aggravated by the fact that few knew where they even lived; yes, the very households we have been serving all these years.
Out of fear of catching the virus, families restricted strangers coming to their properties, sometimes including health care workers who had to conduct their welfare checks by phone or remain outside the house and communicate with the client standing on the outside of the door and the client on the inside.
“In pre COVID years we only did food deliveries for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and if funding allowed, Valentine’s day also,” team leader Fientje Allis reports. “But with the extra help in fundraising as below, we were able to do additional deliveries on Mother’s day and fall break.”
Helping us again this year with fundraising was a group of young cyclists under the initiative of Abby Lowry, a student of Skyline High School in Salt Lake City, who was one of the four riders who rode from Salt Lake City to Page last year, and whose fundraising effort assisted in making the extra deliveries possible.
Abby Lowry and her three companions completed their 300 plus mile bicycle ride on Saturday, October 30, when they crossed the bridge over the Colorado river late afternoon, kicking off the fundraiser for the coming year.
“We service some 75 households over three communities. For Thanksgiving we are hoping to put together generous boxes with staple foods that last beyond the holidays, and humbly seek the support of the community and businesses once again,” says Allis.
“It has been a long and difficult two years for all of us. It is so good to send some cheer to those whose lives are hard even without the pandemic so all can share in the blessings of Thanksgiving,” Allis adds.
If you would like to donate, send donations to https://www.gofundme.com/f/navajo-nation-food-drive-2021 or contact Fientje Allis for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject: Navajo Thanksgiving.