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SHEEP SPRINGS — More than 1,500 people living on the Navajo Nation – tribal members and non-members – tested positive for COVID-19, so the Tooh Haltsooí Chapter sought to keep people safe at home by holding a drive-thru distribution for food and essential items.

Chapter officials, employees and volunteers assembled packages for the giveaway on April 24. It was designed to help community members comply with public health emergency orders issued by the tribal government and to help reduce the spread of the new virus.

"At no time will they get out of their vehicles," Chapter Manager Kevin Begay said to the group before the first set of vehicles drove onto the chapter house grounds.

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Residents had the choice between selecting food packages or gift certificates for groceries, propane, wood or livestock feed from T&R Market near Gallup. 

In addition, they each received paper towels and toilet paper. If the individual was elderly, a fleece blanket was provided.

"One food box," Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty shouted after helping a community member fill out necessary documentation to receive items.

A few yards away, volunteers Terence Suina and Ray Livingston loaded food into vehicles.

"I love to help our community. I love to help the people where I can and when I can," Suina said during a break.

Begay said 132 residents participated in the distribution. Items were provided by the chapter, as well as donations from the State of New Mexico and the National Guard.

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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