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SHIPROCK — A nonprofit group observed the holiday season with those less fortunate in the community with an event featuring food, gifts and holiday activities.

The nonprofit Healing Circle Drop-In Center serves Shiprock and the surrounding communities.

Shirley Montoya, the center's program director, explained that among the program's principles is that everyone is a relative.

"Sometimes, our relatives who are very needy or unable to take care of themselves or their families, need some help. Even the little gifts they get today, they can share that with their kids and the kids don't have to go without gifts," Montoya said.

On the Dec. 19 menu was steamed corn stew, chili beans, frybread, tortillas and blue corn mush.

Montoya explained that board members donate food when the center hosts such gatherings.

Under the Christmas trees were gifts for children. Each attendee was asked whether they have children and if they did, they received a gift.

Also distributed were T-shirts, coats, sweaters, underwear, socks, gloves, mittens and blankets – all donated from the Four Corners Native American Ministries, which collected the items from various United Methodist Churches across the United States.

Elizabeth Marshall carried the items she received with care.

"It makes you feel good, something that you need is given to you," she said.

Her son, JJ "Scooter" Marshall, received a red jacket and visited Santa Claus during the event.

He later helped distribute paper bags filled with apples, oranges, peanuts and candy.

Tony Arviso, a volunteer at the center, gave out socks. He asked the individual for shoe size and whether their children needed socks as well.

Later, Arviso said the event provided space for those who do not have a place to have a Christmas dinner to enjoy a meal and celebrate the holiday.

Caroline Padilla, the center's program coordinator, said the celebration included an arts and crafts session where attendees made ornaments.

The session was organized "just to see their smiles, the expression on their faces," Padilla said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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