Assisting Native American Parents with the Support of Baby2Baby

Have you ever experienced serendipity? An occasion when someone or something comes into your life at just the right time? PWNA’s longstanding partner, American Red Cross, acted as our Eyapaha (ee-yah-pah-hah) or advocate, sharing PWNA’s work in tribal communities and connecting us with Baby2Baby.

A nonprofit organization, Baby2Baby provides diapers, clothing and other necessities for infants and children up to age 12 when faced with disaster or economic disparities. The Los Angeles-based organization is supported by many celebrities and has distributed more than 100 million items to children in homeless shelters, foster care, hospitals and underserved schools across the country. Baby2Baby’s mission aligns effortlessly with PWNA’s work in underserved tribal communities across the Southwest and Northern Plains and our partnership could not have come at a more crucial time.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, PWNA’s distribution centers in Phoenix and Rapid City were already running low on some of the basics needed to assist families. Diapers are particularly in demand and at the top of many of our reservation partners’ lists, including Alan from the Northern Cheyenne Reservation who works with local families and says they always receive requests for diapers.

Not to mention, shopping for essential items while on tribal lands is limited – even in “normal” times. It may take someone an hour to travel to and from a convenience store or gas station, given the remote location of some reservations. So, what does one do? Spend your limited money to gas up a vehicle that’s likely already in need of repair only to travel twice as far to a bigger store with discounted prices? Or do you stay closer to home and pay significantly more for the same item at a trading post?

Lovena, a partner from the Sweetwater community on the Navajo Nation, also shared that increased shoppers from surrounding areas have created even more demand in local trading posts, making it difficult for locals to purchase the food and items they need as the supplies are gone within a few hours of restocking.  

The COVID-19 pandemic is further magnifying this problem and even ‘big-box’ stores are experiencing empty shelves and price increases, so what are families in remote communities to do? Tribal governments are also asserting their sovereignty through stay-at-home orders, critical roadway checkpoints, curfews and even lockdowns to protect their citizens from the deadly virus.

Fortunately, PWNA has continued regular deliveries and also distributed tons of supplies to impacted tribes through our COVID pandemic response. And with the supplies donated by Baby2Baby, we’ve already been able to assist families living on the Navajo, Hopi, Pine Ridge, Crow Agency, Northern Cheyenne, and Spirit Lake reservations and the San Felipe Pueblo.

So, from all of us at PWNA, I’m sharing a heartfelt Lakota ‘thank you’ to Baby2Baby: Pilamaya yé. We appreciate your generosity and will leave you with a recent message from Marguerite, a resident of the Chinle community of the Navajo Nation:

“My heart is so full right now as I look at the food and baby supplies you delivered to our home today.  You couldn’t have known that we were wondering where we would find the money to go to town and that we were down to our last [items]. Ahehee’ (thank you)!”

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