A giving tribe

Southern Ute Public Relations Coordinator, Trennie Collins receives a Thanksgiving meal from Executive Officer Andrew Frost for the Thanksgiving food drive; food items will be donated to a family in need.
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum

Holidays are just around the corner and for some Tribal Departments it’s the time of giving. This time of year families come together to spend quality time, have a nice meal and give each other gifts. While there are families who don’t have a problem with the seasonal expenses, other families struggle to make the holidays possible. Within the community and the Tribe, there are departments and businesses that do their part in helping families make the holidays better for those in need.

At the beginning of the school year, the Southern Ute Education Department distributed school supplies for Southern Ute and Johnson O’Malley families. Students received a backpack as well as all the supplies they needed for their grade level. Rez Girls Catering also gave away free school supplies to families in need, together they gave over one thousand dollars worth of supplies to students who weren’t able to afford them. They recently started a program where they donate two to three meals a week to families in need of assistance, nominated by community members.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Public Relations Department (PR) does a lot to help the community throughout the year. In February PR holds a coat drive and distributes donation boxes throughout the tribal campus as well as Farmers Fresh, ELHI, Ignacio Community Library, Ignacio Post Office and Thriftway. In February of 2016, Permanent Fund, Growth Fund and community members donated about one thousand coats and reached out to SUPD, Social Services, BGC, Ignacio Schools and the Senior Center to find people in need of warm coats. They also hold food drives for Thanksgiving and Christmas with the help of BGC. Together they find families within the community and tribal employees who are in need of Thanksgiving dinner as well as a few more meals to get them through the holiday weekend.

The Boys and Girls Club of The Southern Ute Indian Tribe (BGC) has several programs to help families in the community as well. BGC Mentor Coordinator Cassandra Sanchez runs the Backpack Program where they take a weekend worth of food, pack it into a backpack and distribute it at the Ignacio Schools every week. They now have 32 participants. “It helps families out a lot and we have developed a great relationship with the students,” Sanchez said. The school counselors identify the students to BGC and Manna Soup Kitchen of Durango provides the food.

Along with the food drive BGC holds a toy drive during the Christmas Holiday, where they put out boxes to collect toys from the community and tribal departments for kids ages infant to 15. They don’t tell the community what day they will distribute the toys. They team up with Los Pinos Fire and drive around with their sirens and intercoms to announce that they are handing out toys. They go to the Ignacio trailer park, Shoshone Park, Ignacio Peak, Cedar Point, Browning Avenue, Candelaria Heights, Northridge and Sunset Cir.

BGC Program Coordinator, Tristany Sanchez also created a program a few years ago called Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) for the kids in BGC. The program encourages kids to get into the community and give a helping hand or act of kindness. “I started the program to get the kids to understand that giving back is a good thing,” Sanchez said. They have gone around the community and visited tribal building throughout the years, handing out random gifts and lending a helping hand.

These programs have been successful and have helped many children and families. “I think it’s always good to give back and the Tribal Council and Executive Office supports PR and BGC,” PR Coordinator Trennie Collins said. Without these programs alot of families would not be able to celebrate some of the holidays, have adequate food or even the basic school necessities.

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