ST. GEORGE — M&S Turquoise is accepting donations of cash, toys and clothes for its annual toy drive to benefit the Shivwits Band of Paiutes and other local Native American tribes.
Now in its 20th year, the toy drive has expanded to include the Cedar, Kanosh and Koosharem Bands, but the COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges for receiving donations and delivering the gifts.
“This year’s gonna be a little tough for everybody because we haven’t collected the donations that we normally get,” said Jim Sevy, part-owner of M&S Turquoise and the man behind the toy drive. “I think this year we’re more motivated because a lot of these people in this income bracket have been hit really hard. People have lost jobs, mothers have had to stay home from work to be with their kids so they’ve lost that revenue, it’s just that this has been a tough year. And we just don’t know what’s happening or what’s ahead.”
It all started about 20 years ago when Shivwits tribal councilman Glenn Rogers approached Sevy and asked for help buying and delivering gifts for the tribe’s children. Last year, the toy drive raised $10,000 and delivered gifts to 300 Native children and several dozen seniors, Sevy said. This year Sevy doesn’t know what to expect, but all donations they receive will go directly toward the tribes’ Christmas celebrations.
The toy drive has already been successful in collecting clothes and toys, Sevy said, but they are still in need of cash donations so they can buy Walmart gift cards for older kids. Children ages 0-13 always enjoy having toys to play with, but kids 13-18 often want something more specific, so M&S partners with Walmart and other stores who discount items such as gift cards for the toy drive. Any leftover money is used to buy gifts for adults and seniors and food for Christmas dinners.
“We’re just looking for all the help we can possibly get. Our community has always risen to the occasion,” Sevy said. “These are all Southern Paiutes, they’ve been here long before we were. This is their place. They’re just our local citizens that we share a community with.”
People on the Shivwits reservation are being cautious of the virus these days after at least two people died, Rogers said. To help people feel more comfortable, the Shivwits canceled their annual Christmas party where Santa Claus normally hands out presents.
“This year we’re not going to do that, and that’s going to be kind of a letdown for the children cause they won’t see Santa,” Rogers said.
All the gifts will be delivered on Dec. 21. From the 21 through the 24, families on the Shivwits Reservation will be able to drive to the community center and receive their gifts. Similar drive-up gift collections will be organized on the other tribes’ reservations.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.