ST. GEORGE — M & S Turquoise in St. George has launched its 21st annual “Shivwits Toy Drive” to benefit families living on the Shivwits Indian Reservation and throughout Southern Utah – a program that has expanded as the number of struggling families continues to rise.
The Shivwits Toy Drive started more than 21 years ago after Glenn Rogers, a jewelry finisher at M & S Turquoise and a Shivwits Band councilman, saw that many families on the reservation were struggling. Rogers knew he couldn’t do it alone, and asked Jim Sevy for help.
Sevy is in the Native American art business as part owner of M & S Turquoise, a family-run enterprise that includes a retail store and a wholesale organization that distributes all over the western United States.
During that first year, the group purchased toys and items for less than 50 children. Today, that number has risen to well over 300 children, and with the expansion of the program, the needs have changed as well.
This year, the group is seeking primarily monetary donations that are needed to purchase the gift cards and new toys that will be given to the children at the annual Christmas party later this month, Sevy said.
Additionally, gift cards are also given to the elder members of the tribe to help with food costs, along with much-needed items for the entire family.
Sevy also said 100% of the proceeds and donations go to helping the children and families.
“We have so many volunteers that are involved in the toy drive,” he said. “And none of them are paid, so we have no overhead — none whatsoever.”
Thanks to growing support throughout the community, the group is now able to help families outside of the Shivwits Band and into other bands of Paiutes, Sevy said, many who have significant needs. Once a struggling family is identified, the group assesses what those needs are and then provides whatever they can to help each individual family.
The toy drive is supported by a number of businesses and organizations throughout Southern Utah, many of which become involved by donating either money or items. Other groups support the cause by volunteering, Sevy said. A few businesses established donation incentives through the workplace by matching funds with employee contributions, while others hold events from which a portion of the proceeds from the sale of items is donated to the program.
Hurst Ace Hardware in St. George has supported the cause for years, Sevy said. And in addition to stocking Native American merchandise to support the Shivwits Band, they also help the group by providing significant discounts, enabling them to purchase even more toys to give to the children. Walmart is another generous sponsor, he said, and sells $25 gift cards to the group at a significant discount so they can purchase a larger amount.
One local business has offered their facility and volunteers to do the wrapping this year, while another small company donated a portion of the proceeds sold during an event to the group to purchase toys and food for the families.
The toy drive helps as many families as possible, “until the money is gone,” Sevy said.
How to donate
To make a donation to the cause, drop gifts or a monetary contribution off at the M & S Turquoise Showroom at 53 E. St. George Blvd. Donations may also be made by phone at 800-643-6913 or 435-628-0393, or by using the Venmo app, donating to jamesmsevy.
Conserve Southwest Utah is also holding its 2019 Shivwits Toy Drive Hikes, which give the “real history” of the area, Sevy said. Each hike includes a tour through several petroglyphs and other historical sites. Two hikes are scheduled in December, the first of which takes place Dec. 7, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. through the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, and a second hike will take place Dec. 14, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. that covers the Santa Clara River Reserve. The suggested donation for the hike is $20 and all proceeds go to support the toy drive.
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