Ahead of the holiday weekend, Osage Nation employees collected donated Christmas toys and food baskets for distribution throughout the area for families and children in need.
The Nation’s Financial Assistance Department hosted its annual Tree of Gifts initiative and asked the public for donations and delivered the gifts and food baskets to families on Dec. 21. In early December, the Financial Assistance Department announced the 2022 Tree of Gifts, which included ornaments on the department’s office Christmas tree containing area children’s wishes that were on the tree until sponsors filled the donation requests.
Andrea Kemble, Financial Assistance Department director, said 103 families with children received gifts ranging from toys, clothing items to bikes. In addition, some families received food baskets containing groceries for cooking a family meal.
That afternoon, department employees loaded up vehicles with the toys and food baskets and split up for deliveries. Employees delivered to families in Hominy, Fairfax, Pawhuska, Skiatook, Bartlesville, Burbank and Shidler, Kemble said.
“The Christmas gifts came from our (tree) and so families, parents and grandparents were able to sign their minor child up and each child is able to fill out a wish list with some information about their hobbies, their likes, their age, their clothing sizes, and we put them on the tree and then advertise to the community and our workforce – and to include Osage Casinos,” Kemble said.
“Private sponsors can come in and pick up a child’s ornament and then go shop for them and in most cases, our sponsors were able to get what is actually on the wish list, so that was really good. The Osage Casinos at all seven locations also had a toy drive, they partner with us every year and they delivered approximately 280 toys last Friday and they’re various toys for both male and female kids of different ages and that gets included with ones on the wish list,” Kemble said.
The food baskets were distributed to financial assistance clients, which include large families with children, Kemble said.
In addition to local sponsors, Kemble noted ON elected officials and employees came in to donate and added Osages living in Texas also donate to the initiative by either donating money or ordering gift items online which are then shipped to the department office in Pawhuska before the delivery date.
In Pawhuska, Keith Krohn was among those receiving a grocery basket that day. “I feel very blessed and grateful and everyone have a Merry Christmas!” he said.
For more information on ON Financial Assistance Department services, visit the ON Financial Assistance Department located on the first floor in the Welcome Center at 239 West 12th St. in Pawhuska or call (918) 287-5325. The ONFA services are also on the Nation’s website at: www.osagenation-nsn.gov/what-we-do/financial-assistance
To watch the Osage News video of the distribution, visit https://youtu.be/qny6_PKGF-A