Utah family honoring Native roots with coat drive to help remote community

Jan 30, 2024, 11:20 PM | Updated: Jan 31, 2024, 8:19 am

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah family is honoring their Native American roots with a coat drive. They’re collecting donations for the Navajo Nation in New Mexico.

This is the Tourangeau family’s second annual coat drive. The American Fork family is using their garage to accept and sort through clothing and household goods.

On Feb. 16, they’re heading to the rural community of Two Grey Hills where the closest convenience store is an hour away. That’s where they’ll distribute the items to families in need, with a special focus on providing for elderly residents.

Jennifer Tourangeau grew up in Two Grey Hills, some of her family members still live on the reservation.

“I have a sister that lives in Two Grey Hills and she shares with us that the elderly a lot of them are homebound and some of them are widowed and so they are home alone,” Tourangeau said. “And there is a need for warm coats, blankets, food. Once a month, they try to get to the nearest convenience stores for essentials, so there is a great need.”

In early 2022, Jennifer’s daughters, Kim, Brittany and Rachel, decided they wanted to do something for the community members of Shiprock, New Mexico. In February, they drove down with a cargo van full of clothing and essentials. When 100 families turned out, they knew they were onto something.

Women prepare donations in a garage

The Tourangeau family is helping Native Americans in a tiny Navajo Nation community over an hour away from the nearest convenience store. (Tourangeau family)

“There was a grandma who walked 2 miles to get stuff for our coat drive,” Kim Tourangeau said.

This year, the Tourangeaus will be delivering donations to Two Grey Hills, which sits between Shiprock and Gallup, on Feb. 16.

The Tourangeaus say they have plenty of women’s clothing but they’re still in need of men’s clothing and essentials like paper towels and toilet paper as well as non-perishable food.

You can find more information on their GoFundMe* account.

This is also a way for Jennifer Tourangeau to pass down the traditions of her ancestors.

A woman prepares clothing to go into a donation box

The Tourangeau family is helping Native Americans in a tiny Navajo Nation community over an hour away from the nearest convenience store. (Tourangeau family)

“The elderly mean a lot to me, they’ve impacted my life so much,” Jennifer Tourangeau said. “They just have so much knowledge to share and with today’s fast pace of life we forget to sit down and listen to their stories.”

Jeniffer Tourangeau’s father served in WWII as a Navajo code talker and her mother wove beautiful rugs that she traded for essentials like flour to feed her family. In later years, when she traveled to larger cities like Phoenix and Salt Lake City, Jennifer Tourangeau remembers her mother would always go home with groceries and supplies for families in Two Grey Hills.

“She set an example for me and I want to do the same for my girls and my nieces,” Tourangeau said.

One of the most rewarding aspects for Jennifer Tourangeau and her daughters has been the outpouring of community support.

“It’s just really neat to see people that are willing to be of service and to give — and their reactions and their excitement,” Jennifer Tourangeau said.

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Utah family honoring Native roots with coat drive to help remote community