On December 17 and 18, Navajo Nation First Lady Martha Shelly helped make the holiday season special for Tuba City, Arizona youth by helping to deliver more than 8,000 toys.
According to a Navajo Nation press release, the first lady and the Native American Toys for Tots Program coordinated the Toys for Tots toy giveaway that included another 80,000 gifts Navajo Nation wide.
“I am thankful that some of our children will have toys this Christmas. I’m thankful to the Toys for Tots program for helping us get toys to our young ones. It makes me feel good to see the children smile when they get a gift,” First Lady Shelly said.
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly accompanied his wife in helping Lt. Col. Peter Tagni, coordinator for the Native American Toys for Tots program.
“I’m thankful that we can help the children of the Navajo Nation and other Native American tribes. I can see the happiness and it makes me feel good,” said Tagni, who is retired from the Marine Corps and has been coordinating the Native American Toys for Tots program for 30 years.
Tagni was honored at an appreciation dinner on Tuesday and received a Pendleton robe.
On December 17, stops were made to the Eagle Nest Intermediate School where age appropriate gifts were delivered, then to Tuba City Middle School, where seventh and eighth graders received watches, books, basketballs, and digital cameras.
December 18, the first lady and President Shelly visited Head Start classes in Tuba City, followed by a community assembly at Tuba City High School where Soulfly singer Massimiliano Cavalera was the guest speaker.
“Don’t give up you dreams,” Cavalera said. “Once you achieve your dreams, you will be able to help others who need help.”
Shelly addressed the parents in attendance in his speech.
“I want our kids to be standing on top of the world,” President Shelly told the audience at Tuba City High School. “It’s up to you, the parents, to make that happen for them.”
More than 200,000 toys were given out to American Indian youth through the Toys for Tots program this holiday season.