ST. GEORGE — The 26th annual Shivwits Christmas Toy Drive and Scholarship co-founder became misty-eyed as he spoke, dedicating this year’s event to a Shivwits Band of Paiutes Native American leader who passed away in May.

Volunteers for the Shivwits Christmas Toy Drive are accepting donations at M & S Turquoise Company (L to R) McKenna Sevy, Denee Iverson, Gracie Wood & Karen Shaver, St. George, Utah, Nov. 30, 2023 | Photo by Stephanie DeGraw, St. George News

“We would like to dedicate this year’s toy drive and scholarship funding to Glenn Rogers because of all he has done for the people on the reservation. He did some great things,” Jim Sevy, co-founder of the drive and co-owner of M & S Turquoise, said. “Glenn was quite a leader, as quiet a man as he was; he certainly let his opinion be known.”

Sevy worked alongside Rogers in various capacities for 35 years. Rogers was a silversmith for M & S Turquoise and a leader for the Shivwits Band of Southern Paiute Indians. Sevy spoke of their road trips to buy Native American jewelry and how Rogers didn’t want the radio on.

“He wouldn’t let me turn on the radio when we drove because he wanted to talk,” Sevy said. “And we’d have eight-hour drives down the road. Yeah, he was good at talking. He knew more about me than my wife did.”

The toy drive is expanding this year and is seeking more corporate donations to accompany the private gifts that are trickling in. Toys and donations are accepted at M&S Turquoise in downtown St. George until Dec. 18.

“People have brought nice gifts into our store. We’re starting to get the gifts to come in, but we need the donations because the older kids, we give them a gift card so they can go shopping. And for the expansion of the scholarship fund,” Sevy said.

Last year, the drive provided toys and food to over 300 children and tribal elders. Scholarships were awarded to 24 Native American students for books and supplies. Sevy said that due to Southern Utahans’ generosity, the organization assisted three tribal groups.

Co-founder of the Annual Shivwits Christmas Toy Drive, Jim Sevy, is still accepting donations at his store M & S Turquoise, St. George, Utah, Nov. 30, 2023 | Photo by Stephanie DeGraw, St. George News

In addition, the drive was able to help the St. George Rotary Club deliver gifts and food to the resident school near Mexican Hat, Utah, on the Navajo Nation Reservation.

“Some of those kids are the residents at the school year-round with no family, so there’s nothing in Christmas for them,” Sevy said. “So the Rotary Club has been able to take bikes down to them and help them with gifts and stuff.”

This year, the drive is expanding to include members of the Southern Utah Paiute Shivwits Band, the Cedar Band and the Kanosh Band. Sevy said he enjoyed hearing that the tribal elders liked the hams they sent.

“Last year, we just gave everything we had; we ran out. I said, ‘Oh my gosh, we ran out!’ because there were so many needs,” Sevy said.

He added that the tribal councils vet the students who receive the scholarship assistance. The scholarship applications also have an interview with Sevy.

“They’re just delightful. They’re just special kids and motivated to go to school,” Sevy said. “They want to get this education because they understand how important it is and so do we. So we’d like to help them any way we can.”

Donations can given via cash, credit card or checks made out to the Shivwits Christmas Toy Drive or Venmo @msturquoise. New toys may be dropped off at M & S Turquoise Company at 53 E. St. George Blvd. For questions, call 435-628-0393 or email.

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