by John Aldrich
Big Mountain is the Big One. With over 80 Elders, this food run dwarfs the rest. Elders typically arrive with several family members so that makes a large crowd already. Then add 45 volunteers and other hangers-on and suddenly you have around 300 people. This event has been hosted by the Robertson family at Hardrock for many years, and their generosity and hard work in staging the run is greatly appreciated by ANE.
In recent years, the Penske truck with all the boxes has left Winslow well ahead of the rest of us. On our arrival at the Robertsons, the box crew was elated by this sight.
Howard Benally, who drove the truck, had rounded up enough local help to get it completely unloaded. Of course there was still plenty of work remaining to be done, but this got the day off to a great start.
And what could be a better next step than to pause for a cinnamon roll? Alice Robertson, a member of the host family, makes these for a living.
The following photograph shows the layout of the food run. The Elders sit in a large circle with the tarp in the center. At the top the volunteers are lined up to be introduced.
Here are the volunteers lined up for introductions.
Mary Robertson-Begay, in addition to being one of the hosts, serves as translator.
Alex Robertson, our host, received the ANE Pendelton blanket.
During the giveaway portion of the program, new volunteer Keith Karren hands out ten pound bags of Blue Bird four. This is in addition to the 20 pound bags that Elders receive with their Rainbow Food Box sets.
A number of volunteers on this run were sponsors of Big Mountain Elders. Here are Oregon volunteers, Ron and Shelia Borden with their Elders, Donald and Lorraine Wesley, and their family.
Tandra Goodwin and Steve McGeeny of Tuscon visited with Harry Horseherder, Steve's Elder.
The tarp is shown here.
With the Elders sitting close by, many have already eyed special items they would like to claim. So when the signal is given to start, there is a mad scramble from the sidelines.
Following the program, giveaways, and meal, Elders and other local Navajos present their arts and crafts for sale. Given the scale of this food run, there are many choices.
Salt Lake volunteers Lynn Decker and Pauline Blanchard pose here with their Elder, Faye Begay, and her beautiful storm pattern rug.
Young Emma, whom we met in the Sanders blog, appears destined to be a serious shopper.
My featured hairstyle for this day belongs to Mae Tso.
While the ladies were shopping, the box crew was busy loading Elders' vehicles.
After loading Louise Helen Goh's truck Leroy Arellano bids her farewell.
Following the food run, the return drive to Winslow takes roughly 1 1/2 hours. We do not return in a convoy so we are free to spend as much time as we like along the way. It's a time to peacefully reflect on the beauty of the day and the blessings each of us received.