Holiday stockings offer familiar warmth in an unfamiliar place:

Holiday Stockings Offer Familiar Warmth In An Unfamiliar Place

Every year children across the country wait for Christmas, a time of celebration with family and gifts. However, not all children have the same opportunity to celebrate the holidays, especially those living on Native American reservations where one in four people live in poverty. Partnership With Native Americans® (PWNA) works with Program Partners across the Southwest, utilizing the Santa Stop service of the Southwest Indian Relief Council® (SWIRC), a program of PWNA.

Program Partner Arnalda is the coordinator for the Casa Blanca Community School FACE program, an initiative that promotes parent-child engagement, and adult and early childhood education to strengthen families in Bapchule, AZ on the Gila River Indian Community. As a current recipient of the Healthy Living service through PWNA’s Southwest Reservation Aid® (SWRA) program, Arnalda wanted to utilize SWIRC’s Santa Stop service to provide holiday cheer for the 13 children enrolled in the FACE program.

Taking place during the Family Circle, a regular session where parents engage with their children and other FACE families, children received stockings full of toys and other goodies. The stocking was especially exciting for 5-year-old Kiyanna and her mother, Candelaria.

Originally from the Navajo Nation, 46-year-old Candelaria and her family relocated to Chandler to expand her opportunities. Candelaria began working for Casa Blanca as an ESS teacher and saw the FACE program as a great opportunity to engage more with her daughter. Navigating a new job in a new environment comes with its challenges. “I usually don’t have that time to spend with my daughter because I’m very busy,” said Candelaria when describing the need for more parent-child engagement.

Not only does Candelaria experience difficulties in spending quality time with her two children, which includes her 11-year-old son Chase, but she finds the holidays a particularly challenging time for her finances. “Being a single parent, it’s hard to find gifts for my kids and my family,” she added.

Candelaria also feels a strong need to preserve the Navajo culture with her children, saying, “coming out here, I feel so guilty, because I feel like I’m taking my kids away from their culture.” Nevertheless, she is committed to preserving her culture in a more metropolitan area, ending with, “we can make it work.”

In a message to donors who support SWIRC, Candelaria said, “I’m grateful for them to take time out of their day to provide for families who can’t afford things. It takes some of the stress off us knowing that there are other people who care and are willing to help. It’s a warm feeling and lets us know we are not alone.”

If you want to help spread joy during the holidays and support families, donate to SWIRC today.

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