Teen acts on her concern for firefighters

By Noel Lyn Smith
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, June 16, 2011

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(Courtesy photo)

Tiana Todachine collects donations of bottled water, Gatorade and personal items to give to firefighters who are battling the Wallow Fire in northeastern Arizona during a donation drive June 10 at the Bashas parking lot in Window Rock.

Tiana Todachine might have a quiet personality but what she set out to accomplish is no small task.

For the past week, Todachine has been collecting donations of water, Gatorade and toiletries to donate to the firefighters who are battling the Wallow Fire in northeastern Arizona.


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Todachine, 13, decided to help after reading about the fire, which started May 29 about 18 miles southwest of Alpine, on the Internet and watching TV news.

"I felt really bad for the firefighters and for the people who were losing their homes," Todachine said in a telephone interview Wednesday from her Gallup home.

At press time Wednesday the fire had burn 478,452 acres and was 20 percent contained.

So far her effort has netted cases of bottled water and Gatorade and travel-sized containers of lotion, sunscreen, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and toothbrushes.

Todachine and some volunteers spent June 9 and 10 collecting donations at the Bashas' parking lot in Window Rock.

KTNN was also there and interviewed Todachine about her project.

In pictures from the event, Todachine can be seen carrying boxes of sunscreen. Another photo shows pickup trucks packed with cases of water and Gatorade.

They also collected fruit and personal supplies.

"Some people said, 'You're doing a really good thing,'" she said.

Besides the individual donations, Todachine received a donation from the Navajo Travel Plaza in Gallup of 10 cases of water and five cases of Gatorade.

The residents of Oak Springs and Sawmill chapters also donated cases of bottled water.

Family members have also helped.

People have been dropping off items when they see her grandfather's truck parked at Bashas' and donations have also been left at her parents' work locations in Gallup.

To those who dropped off their donation anonymously, Todachine sends this message, "Thank you for donating."

Todachine, her mother Josephine Todachine, and her grandfather Ben Smith, made a delivery June 10 to the Apache County Sheriff's Office in Springerville.

While she was in the community, she saw smoke from the Wallow Fire rising into the air.

"I was thinking, 'this is a lot of smoke, wow!" she said.

During her visit, Todachine said a firefighter thanked her for the toothpaste he received.

"He had not brushed his teeth in a week," she said. "I felt happy I was helping out."

Todachine finished collecting donations Wednesday and is planning to deliver the last of the items today (June 16) to Springerville.

Jonathan Todachine, Tiana's father, said the family keeps an eye on current events and noticed his daughter's interest in helping after news about the fire was reported.

"I'm really proud of her and I'm surprised," he said.

The project has been a learning experience not just for Tiana, who will be an eighth-grader at JFK Middle School this fall, but for the family, Jonathan said.

Together, they have learned that people will help if attention is given to any circumstance.

"One thing I told her is that when I was your age, I didn't think of anything like that," he said. "For her to care about other people, we must be doing something right."

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