A Norman nonprofit organization donated $10,000 toward COVID-19 relief in the Navajo Nation and will continue fundraising until June 15.
The Auntie Project's Navajo Nation COVID-19 Family Relief Effort is designed to provide supplies for Navajo families affected by the pandemic. The nonprofit and volunteer nature of the organization allows 100 percent of the donation to go toward COVID-19 relief, the project’s president Amanda Cobb-Greetham said.
“Our mission is very simple, and we keep it simple on purpose. We work to be of service to Native American and indigenous kids,” OU’s Director of the Native Nation’s Center and member of the Chickasaw Nation Cobb-Greetham said. “Our general feeling is that if there's anything we can do to help (during this pandemic) we need to try.”
COVID-19 has significantly impacted members of the Navajo Nation, having the highest per capita rate of cases in the U.S. with 5,343 positive cases, according to Indian Health Services in a May 26 release.
Although the Navajos are based in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, the efforts of the Auntie Project hold importance in Oklahoma as, according to OU’s Fact Book, 3.9 percent of students enrolled in the Fall of 2019 were Native American.
The $10,000 donation was sent May 22 and will provide resources such as food and medicine to families and children affected by COVID-19, according to the Auntie Project’s website.
With an average donation of about $20 per donor, Cobb-Greetham said she was overwhelmed by people’s generosity and willingness to help.
“We did not expect to achieve our initial $10,000 goal so quickly,” Cobb-Greetham said in the release. “That we did demonstrates love and kindness of so many people.”
The Auntie Project hopes to see momentum continue throughout the next few weeks, Cobb-Greetham said. It plans to raise as much as it can this month and reach out to the Navajo Nation to see how the situation is continuing and what is needed most.
“Aunties” play a special role throughout the community in most Native cultures, according to the release. Their role is similar to that of a mother because they provide for, mentor and love on Native American children.
“An Auntie is always there with hugs, love, and advice,” said Auntie Project board member and member of the Cheyenne Nation Gloria Tallbull in the release.
For the aunties of the Auntie Project, doing something is key, according to the release. The persistence and resilience of Native people have been apparent throughout history — but even the perseverant and resilient need help sometimes, Cobb-Greetham said.
“I think one of the main things to think about during an event like this is the ways that it connects us rather than the ways that it separates us,” Cobb-Greetham said. “Nobody heals from anything without each other — so we must think, what can we do to be there for each other?”