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NMSU’s American Indian Program collects items to support Crownpoint community

When Michael Ray, director of New Mexico State University’s American Indian Program, found out a community was in need, he didn’t waste any time gathering resources or making the necessary trips to deliver them.

Trunk full of boxes of diapers
The American Indian Program is partnering with Crownpoint COVID-19 Relief to address the need for supplies unavailable in nearby stores in Crownpoint, New Mexico. July 17 will mark the third trip to Crownpoint for the American Indian Program, which is hoping that this will be their biggest trip yet. Currently, there is a need for items that elders use, including adult diapers and flushable wipes, Gatorade and Pedialyte, as well as disinfectants to assist with cleaning home medical equipment. Along with the elders, there is still a need for baby formula and Pedialyte for the babies of the community. (Courtesy photo)

Located nearly five hours from Las Cruces, the Navajo community of Crownpoint can be found on the northwestern side of New Mexico in McKinley County. The community’s small size and remoteness – about an hour’s drive from the nearest larger town – means that access to food and supplies can sometimes be a challenge for those living in Crownpoint. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, that limited access became increasingly problematic.

“We have students that come from Crownpoint, so we started to have this conversation about the difficulties they have to access everyday things,” Ray said “They have many small grocery stores, but can’t always the everyday items that they need.”

Ray said bigger relief agencies can miss small communities like Crownpoint or force residents to rely on transportation, which isn’t always feasible and could be the tipping point between getting food or not.

“In order to help out, we reached out to Crownpoint NM COVID-19 Relief. They are the ones going into smaller communities,” he said. “My in-laws live in Crownpoint, so we have created a great relationship with the community there, and our help has been very well received. Many people there have asked if they can give us a dollar or two for helping.”

This trip will mark Ray’s third trip to the community, and he’s hoping this will be the biggest one yet. Items will be delivered on Friday, July 17.

“My wife and I made the first two trips to Crownpoint, which can be a 10- to 12-hour round trip. We used personal and rented vehicles to do it, but we are hoping we can do even more so we don’t have to go back for two months,” Ray said. “The New Mexico Department of Agriculture has lent us a building there where we can hold supplies, but we’re hoping to have enough that the National Guard will have to help us transport all the items.”

Ray said this time around, they are looking for donations of adult diapers for both men and women, flushable wipes, Gatorade, Pedialyte, disinfectant wipes and sprays, and Similac formula and pre-mix.

“A lot of homes surrounding the Crownpoint area don’t have running water, and it’s not a simple process for the Navajo Nation to get pipes in there,” Ray said. “So, the Pedialyte will help some of the elders who don’t drink as much water stay hydrated, as well as youngsters who don’t have the ability to advocate for themselves when they are thirsty.”

Monetary donations will also be accepted.

“Aggies are all over the world, so if they are unable to donate items, they can send money,” Ray said. “We will use the money to cover travel costs and it also gives us the opportunity to go to the stores ourselves to buy these items if others can’t.”

Ray is hoping to start a trend among other diverse communities to help each other out when the time comes.

“This is a great way to support and help each other out,” Ray said. “We look forward to helping other diverse communities – if one of them needs help, we are there to help. We are looking to help all our programs and the needs of their communities, that we can start a trend with one another to help and we will help as much as we can.”

“Aggies look after Aggies,” he said.

For more information or to donate items in Las Cruces, contact Michael Ray at mikerry@nmsu.edu and a pick-up can be arranged. If you wish to make a monetary donation to Crownpoint Covid-19 Relief, visit https://gf.me/u/x37wfq.