Give it up for Grandma

Volunteers make sure elders have something under the tree

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, Dec. 12, 2013

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For many the holiday season is about giving back to those in need, and the number of those is increasing in these tough economic times.

On the Navajo Nation, volunteers are coming together to makes sure local elders are thought of on Christmas.

Atsa Entertainment in Piñon, Ariz. and the Department of Behavioral Health Service in Fort Defiance are chipping in to make sure that happens by hosting their own events.

"We found here that our senior center isn't getting any funds to give out gifts for grandparents (this year)," said Farrah Sam, committee member of Atsa Entertainment, which will sponsor, "Christmas for our Grandparents." Being that it's such a last-minute idea, Sam said people who are willing to volunteer only need to buy stuff that is needed by the elders.

Suggested gifts are thermal wear, blankets, coats, gloves, socks and hats because those are the most needed by grandparents during the winter, Sam added.

"Being a part of a non-profit committee it's always about volunteering our time and ourselves to a good cause," Sam said, adding that since "it's so cold this year it's the least we could do." Atsa Entertainment is a group of volunteers from the Piñon Unified School District and surrounding community, Sam said, adding that they try to get together once a week and just do anything for the community that they can.

Sam said that the Piñon Senior Center is expecting at least 100 grandparents to show up to their Christmas lunch, which is why they have a goal of getting at least 100 gifts.

Caroline Nutlouis, the cook at Pinon Senior Center, said she's really happy that someone is willing to bring the seniors gifts.

"At least the grandparents will be receiving something this Christmas. It will make them feel better," Nutlouis said.

The last day to make donations is next Monday, Dec. 16 at the Piñon Unified School District's Technology Department.

On Dec. 17 Sam and other volunteers will take the gifts to the Piñon Senior Centers Christmas lunch.

The gifts could be already wrapped but they don't have to be, Sam said, adding that they would like it if volunteers mention on the gift if it is for a grandma or grandpa.

As of Dec. 9 Sam they had at least 30 donations, including the 10 gifts she's given, but she's pretty confident they're going to hit the 100 gift goal.

If this event goes well they plan on doing it again next year.

Information: 928-725-2192.

The other group of volunteers looking out for grams and grampus this coming holiday season is the Department of Behavioral Health's Domestic Violence Prevention Initiative (DBHS-DVPI).

"It's our opportunity to bring joy to the local elders with what could be the only gift they received," said Davina Segay, DBHS-DVPI coordinator, on why they wanted to host the event.

"It's sad to see that some grandparents don't receive a gift." Segay said this time of year it's not uncommon for a lot of grandparents to be left out, which is why they're hosting their "Adopt a Grandparent This Christmas" event.

"It's Christmas time, it's supposed to be a time of giving," Segay said, adding people who want to volunteer can simply come down to their office and take a star off their Christmas tree.

On that star is the name, age and senior center of the grandparent along with five items they wished for this year, and it's up to the volunteer to decide which item to get.

Segay said that many of the things listed on the stars are "things that they really need," such as, gloves, snow boots or jackets.

"It's up to the volunteers if they want to buy all the items listed," Segay said, adding that the limit they have set is $25.

So far 50 names have been provided by the Sawmill and Fort Defiance Senior Centers, but Segay said they are expected to get more before the week is out.

"It's a way to bring cheer and also make the holiday special for someone else," Segay said, continuing, "I hope everyone is able to adopt a grandparent this Christmas, and make a holiday special for someone else." The deadline to adopt a grandparent is on Dec.

18, and all volunteers will have to bring their wrapped Christmas gift to the DBHS in Fort Defiance.

On Dec. 20 Segay and a few other volunteers will take the gifts to the senior centers' Christmas dinners.

Information: 928-871-7610.

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