St. George store needs help providing Christmas for hundreds of Native American kids

Shoppers peruse toys at Hurst Ace Hardware in St. George, Utah, Nov. 23, 2016. Hurst Ace Hardware helps with an annual toy drive for Paiute children by offering discounts on merchandise purchased for the charity. | File photo by Mike Cole, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — M & S Turquoise in St. George has launched its annual “Shivwits Toy Drive” to benefit Native American families in Southern Utah during the holiday season.

2016 file photo of Shivwits Toy Drive banner hanging in the window of M & S Turquoise, located at 53 E. St. George Blvd., St George, Utah, Nov. 23, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The effort to bring Christmas to children and families living on the Shivwits Reservation, as well as other Native American bands in the area, has been spearheaded by Jim Sevy, part-owner of M&S Turquoise, a family run enterprise that includes a retail store located at 53 East St. George Blvd. in St. George, as well as a wholesale organization that distributes all over the western United States.

The Shivwits Toy Drive was started more than 21 years ago when Glenn Rogers, Shivwits Band councilman and jewelry finisher at M & S Turquoise, saw a need for families on the reservation and asked for help, which is when he went to Sevy, who saw the need and joined in the effort without hesitation.

“We are in the Native American art business and saw the opportunity to help,” Sevy said. “We have seen an increase of support from the community and, over the last several years, we have been able to expand our donations to the Cedar and Kanosh Band of Paiutes.”

Last year, the toy drive raised $8,000 and delivered gifts to more than 300 Native children and several dozen seniors, Sevy said. The program also received a boost when an influx of toys came in; so many, in fact, that some were held over and will be delivered to children this year.

He said the program has been successful because of the generosity of the community, one that “has come through for these kids every single year.”

The program also had a recent delivery of toys donated by a local business, so at this point, Sevy said, what the program needs most is cash donations that will be used to purchase gift cards for the older kids, ages 13-18, who often want something more specific, such as electronics, clothing and so on.

2020 file photo of Jim Sevy, part-owner of M&S Turquoise and founder of the Shivwits Toy Drive, poses with a Santa statue in front of the M&S Turquoise store, St. George, Utah Dec. 15, 2020 | Photo by Megan Webber, St. George News.

M & S also partners with Walmart and other stores who discount the gift cards and other items for the toy drive, including Ben Franklin and Hurst Ace in St. George, businesses that have  supported the cause for years.

In addition to stocking Native American merchandise to support the Shivwits Band, they also help by providing significant discounts, enabling them to purchase even more toys to give to the children. Any leftover money is used to buy gifts for adults and seniors and food for Christmas dinners.

Last year they were also able to provide scholarships to several young adults attending Dixie State University, and they would like to do the same this holiday season, depending on donations.

He went on to say the program is also focused on the families hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sevy said that 100% of all donations are used to purchase toys, scholarships, gift cards and so on.

“Every single penny goes to helping these kids and their families,” he added.

Southern Utah is home to five bands of Paiutes, including the Cedar Band, Indian Peaks Band, Kanosh Band, Koosharem Band and Shivwits Band. Of all those now living in Washington County, none have been here as long as the Shivwits Band of Paiutes.

All the gifts will be delivered on Dec. 21. From Dec. 21-24, families on the Shivwits Reservation will be able to drive to the community center and receive their gifts. Similar drive-up gift collections will be organized on the other tribes’ reservations.

How to donate

If you would like to donate for this cause, drop gifts or monetary contribution off at the M & S Turquoise showroom located at 53 E. St. George Blvd. Donations may also be made using Venmo or over the phone by calling the store at 435-628-0393.

For more information, go to the store’s Facebook page or website.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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