A Season of Giving

Published December 11, 2023

By Chief Gary Batton

Halito and I hope everyone is having a safe and relaxing Christmas season. This time of year, at the Choctaw Nation we are busy with holiday activities, but most important it is our season of giving.

The notion of giving without expecting anything in return is engrained in the Choctaw people. It is handed down through generations of hardworking, generous Chahta who found that helping others was their way of giving thanks for their many blessings. There are lessons of Chahta generosity throughout history and we, as a sovereign nation, have a duty today to add to that history of generosity set forth by our ancestors.

Giving back is not a boastful thing, but it is to show our Lord that we as a sovereign nation with a thriving population of tribal members throughout the United States, are thankful for the many blessings that we have received and continue to receive. In Oklahoma alone, our tribal members and Associates have opened their hearts and are giving back to those less fortunate on the reservation. We have had robust food, coat, Angel Tree, and Outreach drives that will help many less fortunate tribal members get the services and items they need this holiday season.

These drives also show our tribal members that there are people in this world who care about them. Some people want to see that all our tribal members are safe, well-fed, and cared about, so they have a chance to make a better start to their new year. To illustrate this, here are a few of the numbers of items collected so far this holiday season.

Choctaw Nation’s Wellness Center takes funds raised from the Tushka Trials and partners with the Chahta Foundation to purchase Christmas gifts for foster care children. This year, the Chahta Foundation, Foster Care, and Wellness Center teams had the opportunity to shop together for the gifts. Over $6,000 in available funds helped ensure 72 children have the joy of opening Christmas gifts.

Education Food and Coat Drive

Food Drive data collected for incoming items for Head Start and Childcare:

  • Antlers – 60
  • Atoka – 265
  • Battiest – 35
  • Bennington – 25
  • Broken Bow – 50
  • Coalgate – 125
  • Durant – 33
  • Hugo – 59
  • Idabel – 40
  • McAlester – 64
  • Poteau – 1508
  • Stigler – 504
  • Wilburton – 16
  • Wright City – 85
  • Bennington – 116
  • Coalgate – 125
  • Durant 1 – 728
  • Durant 2 – 375
  • Stigler – 613
  • Talihina – 200
  • Poteau – 1508
  • Idabel – 125
  • Durant Travel Plaza – 106
  • CN Headquarters – 306

Head Start collected a total of 3090 canned foods, Childcare collected a total of 790 canned foods with a total of 5247 canned foods across the reservation.

Head Start collected a total of 191 coats, Childcare collected a total of 114 coats with a total of 305 coats.

Jones Academy Angel Tree

  • STAR program has collected presents for the Jones Academy Angel Tree. 145 students will be receiving gifts from Choctaw Nation Associates.

Outreach Services

  • Thanksgiving Holiday Food Vouchers- 3244 to be sent out.
  • Christmas Holiday Food Vouchers- estimated 3591 to be sent out.
  • Elder Angels – 240
  • Little Chahta Angels – 320
  • Christmas for Needy Families – estimated 1600 to be sent out.
  • Kids Coat Drive/Donation – 100 given out.
  • 197 pounds of toys have been collected at Choctaw Headquarters in Durant, as of Dec. 5.

For those who gave this holiday season, Yakoke! Just remember, it is not how much you give, but just the fact that you are open to helping others have their best life possible. And Yakoke to all of you who display the Chahta spirit each and every day!

Merry Christmas, Yakoke, and God Bless!