Pioneers of Peace » Pioneers of Peace Walk Not Just Talk

Make the Holidays Special for Children on the Rez

Hello again,

I am so excited to share this opportunity to help provide Christmas on the Navajo reservation through the non-profit “Adopt a Native Elder” based here in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Before I say anything more, this is what is needed: Knitted or crocheted children’s hats sizes preschool through 6th grade, both male and female; NO traditional Christmas colors, and NEW small (approximately 6 inches) stuffed animals. All items must be donated by October 20th.

Last week Richard and I had the pleasure of visiting the Adopt a Native Elder pavilion while attending the Sheep Dog Championships in Midway, Utah. Before going, I had read there was going to be a demonstration on Navajo Weaving which really interested me. It was so inspiring to see the “grandmothers,” some over 90 years old carding and spinning wool. I’ve recently taken up drop spindle spinning so I was in heaven watching them.

It was very interesting to learn that there are over 550 elders living in the remote areas of the reservation still herding sheep, living in hogans, and carrying their own firewood to heat their homes. The Adopt a Native Elder Program provides food,  medical supplies, and clothing being very careful not to disrupt their culture. They also organize opportunities for Navajo rugs to be sold, which for many on the reservation is their only source of monetary support. We couldn’t afford to buy a rug, but we donated money to provide wool for weaving them.

I spoke with the director Linda Meyers and asked if they needed any hand knit items. She gave me a smile and said there are still men who herd sheep in the dead of winter. They could really use warm hats. Soooo….I told her I just happened to have several hand dyed wool hats knit by my friend Warren that were looking for a home.

This morning I delivered Warren’s hats to the Adopt a Native Elder warehouse. In all of the time I’ve been organizing donations to various charities, I have never been met with such an outpouring of gratitude. High 5 Warren!!! Your kindness and hard work have made a difference.

As I was getting ready to leave, I met Joan who is in charge of providing Christmas stockings to all of the school children on the reservation. She said she used to provide necessities but now she just wants the kids to have fun.

I asked her to tell me more about the program and this is what she said. Every year she begins by contacting all of the schools on the reservation to ask them if they would like to receive Christmas stockings filled with goodies for each of their students. A stocking contains items she collects over the year, along with a small stuffed animal. Then the contents of the stocking are hidden with a hat covering the opening.

“Joan” I said, “Do you get enough hats to do that?”  She said, “No, we never have enough hats so we have to use clothespins.”

Well in that moment, oxytocin and adrenalin began to course through my veins and I said, I will help. I happen to know a lot of great people who would love to make a difference in children’s lives this Christmas.

We are in a bit of a time crunch because all of the items need to be in the warehouse by October 20th, so they can be assembled and delivered before school breaks for the holidays.

Are you in? Get those needles out and start knitting or crocheting. Let’s cover those stockings with the cutest hats ever. Adopt A Native Elder prefers acrylic or super wash wool yarn. If you don’t have a pattern, google free knitted kid’s hat patterns or free crocheted kid’s hat patterns. Here is one of the links for free patterns

Remember, they also need new small stuffed animals. If you are not a knitter or crocheter you can still help.

Be sure to take a look at the Adopt a Native Elder website to learn more. I will be posting drop-off locations as they become available.

Love to all,


P.S. Linda Myers founder and executive director of Adopt a Native Elder has been honored as a CNN Hero. Watch here.


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