Tuba City teens lead donation drive for Okla. tornado victims

By Krista Allen
Western Agency Bureau

TUBA CITY, May 30, 2013

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(Times photo – Krista Allen)

When four young women learned about the devastating tornado that ripped through the suburbs of Oklahoma City on May 20, they decided to start a donation drive. Pictured, from left to right are Dretine White, 12, Aelainah White, 13, Aryn Begay, 13, and Deja Begay,12.

F our young women are leading an effort to collect donations for victims that have been affected last week by the massive and powerful tornado that ripped through the suburbs of Oklahoma City.

Thirteen-year-olds Aryn Begay and Aelainah White, along with 12-year-olds Deja Begay and Dretine White, are doing what they can to help provide relief for those in the Sooner State.

When the girls learned that the fierce tornado had left a trail of destruction, leaving neighborhoods in ruins, they decided to start a donation drive.

"Those people are going through a hard time," said Aryn.

"We had stuff we didn't need and didn't use a lot, said Aelainah.

With the help of their mother, Dawn Nez, the girls initiated the drive at the Tónaneesdizí Chapter on May 20, the same day the tornado carved a devastating path south of Oklahoma City for some 17 miles.

"We just came down here and started it out of nowhere," said Nez. "The chapter helped us out with the building and waived our fee."

On Friday morning, the girls made posters out of butcher paper outside the chapter in the sweltering heat. The girls made jokes as they printed letters using blue acrylic paint.

The first poster read "Donations 4 OKC Today." Meanwhile, the second poster read "Donations 4 OKC @ chapter house."

The girls said they borrowed the acronym OKC from their favorite basketball team: Oklahoma City Thunder.

Last week's deadly tornado struck the communities of Newcastle and Moore, causing 24 deaths, injuring more than 375 others, and damaging 12,000 residencies. On the Enhanced Fujita scale used to classify the strength of cyclones, the storm rated a five (EF5) – the strongest category of tornadoes measured, according to the National Weather Service.

"It's pretty sad," said Deja. "I don't think anybody would want to go through that."

And so far, the girls have collected brand new material from more than 20 people including a company from Flagstaff that donated 500 T-shirts.

The girls said the donations they're getting are specific – baby socks, baby bottles, clothes, shampoo, shoes, spill-proof drinking cups designed for toddlers, toothbrushes, toothpastes, and other basic necessities.

"We may not have as much stuff, but we're trying to help them with what we have and what we got," said Dretine. "If something happened to us like that, we would probably want some help."

Nez says she comes from a family that teaches to help one another.

"I think that's pretty much where they are getting it from," she said of the girls. "People who are struggling—that's something that we were taught: to always help out and not push anybody away no matter what."

"It's the Diné way," said Aryn. "It's really good to help people. It makes us feel good because we know that we're doing things good for other people."

"Sharing is caring," said Deja. "So we should pass it on, and hopefully they'll do the same if we're ever in need."

Unfortunately, the girls have received some negative feedback from the community.

"'Why should we help them? They're not going to help us.' That's something we got, but we're going to do what we can," Nez added.

Nez and her girls plan to continue collecting donations until they accumulate funds to deliver the goods to Oklahoma. However, her brother will be delivering some of the items.

The four girls were recently promoted from the eighth grade at Tuba City Boarding School. Deja Begay and Dretine White will be entering the seventh grade in the fall.

Information: Dawn Nez, 928-691-0828 and Sara Riggs, 928-255-7126.