As a sign of solidarity with its members, the Nanticoke Indian Association tribal council hosted a drive-thru giveaway of bagged essentials May 9 at the association’s museum off Route 24.
Each paper bag, 150 in total, contained a hand-sewn mask, a 2-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer, a $10 gift card to Wawa or Royal Farms, and reading material on ways to keep mind and body healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The drive-thru opened at 11 a.m., but Nanticoke Indian Association Chief Natosha Carmine said people began showing up to the word-of-mouth event at 9:30 a.m.
Tribal council member Avery Johnson helped organize the event. He said he and other council members are willing to do anything possible to help the tribe.
Johnson said he recognizes the gift cards aren’t much, but that’s why gift cards were distributed and not food. Under the current conditions, it’s hard to conduct a food giveaway, he said.
“Maybe if they don’t do anything with the gift cards other than buy a dessert, at least it gives them the opportunity to do that,” said Johnson. “It’s important for us to help each other out in times of need.”
Susi Church turned a portion of her federal stimulus money into $10 gift cards. A recent Sussex County transplant, she said she decided to help because she believes in giving back.
“When a person receives a universal gift, it’s important to give a portion away,” said Church.
Church isn’t Native American, but she said she’s had the opportunity to work on reservations across the country as a traveling nurse. The First People are special people in her heart, she said.
Carmine said tribe member Linda Harmon made the masks from material left over from regalia, the custom-made outfits worn during circle dances at the annual powwow.
Church said even if someone already has a mask, getting a second one allows for the person to be safe while the first is being washed.
Carmine, who was sworn in as the tribe’s first woman chief in January 2016, said there have been conference calls, but the tribal body has not met since March 7. The bags are a little something to show that members are in leaders’ hearts and prayers, she said.
“The safety of our members is of the utmost importance,” said Carmine. “We have no idea if this is the new norm, but it’s a little something. What we have to give, we give from our heart.”