Nittak Hullo Chito Na Yukpa Photo by Chris Jennings

Nittak Hullo Chito Na Yukpa (Merry Christmas)

The Choctaw Nation shows the spirit of giving for the holidays

By Christian Toews
December 1, 2021

The holiday season is a time of gift-giving and community. It is a time where we slow down and reconnect, giving back to the community around us. The recent years have been challenging for many people because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and we need a season of cheer more than ever.

The Choctaw Nation and its employees have continued to show generosity and a spirit of community through these difficult times. This holiday season is no different. The Choctaw Nation is giving back to the Choctaw people and the surrounding areas in many ways.

Food, clothing and toys for children are just some of the ways the Choctaw Nation gives back during the holiday season. Angela Connor is the Director of Foster Care and Adoptions. She works with over 200 foster children in the Choctaw Nation’s custody and in the State of Oklahoma’s custody. Connor said that her entire department had gathered gift cards for foster children across the state of Oklahoma.

She noted that many employees are motivated to attain as many gift cards as possible for these children.
“One employee today, notified us that she has attained 30 gift cards,” she said. According to Connor, Christmas gifts will be distributed during three events held in Durant, McAlester and Oklahoma City to reach as many foster care families as possible. The gift cards aren’t the only way this department is giving back.

Connor said they have also partnered with the Wellness Centers who have placed bins at every location to collect toys for the foster children within the Choctaw Nation. Chase Henson is the director of the wellness centers. Henson said that the toy drive had been a huge success in past years, and he expects this year to be the same.

According to Henson, they’ve hosted competitions in the past where all of the proceeds from the competition were donated to the Chahta Foundation. The Chahta Foundation would match their donation and give those funds to help the children in the Choctaw Nation’s foster care program.

Due to COVID restrictions, these competitions were canceled this year. He said he is thrilled they can still do something impactful this year. The toy drive is not the only way the Choctaw Wellness Centers are giving back this year. According to Henson, they also have bins at every location for canned food and winter clothing. These items will be distributed to the local communities where each wellness center is located.

“Every location works with their district and donates this food and clothing. We just want to give back to the local community,” he said. According to Henson, in previous years they have been able to raise thousands of dollars, thousands of canned goods and hundreds of coats, hats, gloves and scarves that help the local community during the holiday season.

The Choctaw Nation’s Recycling Center is hosting a used toy drive this year as well. While the toys from the Wellness Center will go directly to the Foster Care program, the toys collected with the Recycling Center’s drive will go to the Choctaw Nation and the surrounding community through a local nonprofit called Native American Ministries, according to Jason Lilley, Recycling Manager with the Choctaw Nation.

This is the ninth year the toy drive has been held. Last year the recycling center donated 541lbs of toys to Native American Ministries. Lilley said they are hoping to exceed last year’s donation amount.

Collection boxes for gently loved, clean and unbroken toys will be located at tribal facility locations throughout the Choctaw Nation service area. While these are just a few of the ways the Choctaw Nation is giving back this year, the Choctaw people have a long history of generosity.

From helping the Irish people during a famine, helping to grow the economy across the State of Oklahoma and providing programs and services to tribal and non-tribal members– Choctaw is there to lend a helping hand.

The Holiday season is a special time of generosity and giving back to those in need. However, the vision of the Choctaw Nation has always been living out the Chahta spirit of faith, family and culture.
The Choctaw Nation offers services to its tribal members year-round.

To find out more about services and programs available, visit choctawnation.com/services.

Photos

Battiest Choctaw Community Center
Photo by Chris Jennings

Choctaw Nation associates and volunteers prepare a meal for tribal members at the Battiest Choctaw Community Center. In November, the Choctaw Nation served thousands of curbside Thanksgiving meals to tribal members throughout its reservation.

Toy Donations
Photo by Chris Jennings

Gently used toy donations are collected by Choctaw Nation Recycling every Christmas. Toys collected are given to children in need throughout the area.

Food Drive
Photo by Chris Jennings

The Choctaw Nation collected non-perishable food items from November 1 to November 22. These items were donated to food pantries throughout Southeastern Oklahoma.