Second Winter Jacket Drive Nearly Three Times As Large


By Sam Stevens (MCC Advisor)

Mesa, AZ - As the coolness of Fall settles in, bringing with it holiday cheer and the festive spirit of giving, the month of November is typically when people begin to express their thanks for the good and positive things in their lives. With the holidays just around the corner, the gift of giving also seems to promote a willingness to reach out and share one's goodwill toward others.  It is appropriate that during this month of giving thanks there are many people who are grateful for one special MCC student.

Marlinda Haudley is a very driven and motivated young student from Chinle, AZ, located in northeastern AZ on the Navajo Nation. In a previous story published on our website, she was highlighted by the American Indian Center at MCC for her efforts in collecting and distributing over 100 jackets and other warm winter gear for the homeless and less-fortunate in her hometown of Chinle. Because of its success, she decided to attempt a second winter jacket drive, which became even bigger and more successful than the first.

Reaching out to many of the same people and organizations who had previously donated, Marlinda anticipated comparable support and hoped to help about the same number of people as before. Little did she know that her previous efforts would be noticed by many more, whose willingness to help others would lead to nearly three times the amount of donations.

She received tremendous support once again from The Assistance League of East Valley who provided her with another exceptional donation of 150 jackets. She also received warm weather gear from many of her peers and schoolmates at MCC. As more people became aware of her jacket drive, donations began pouring in. Her apartment started to be filled to overflowing with all the jackets she was receiving. The director of the summer health program she attended at UCLA, Dr. Lawrence Doyle, even sent a package worth several hundred dollars worth of jackets from California.

Through the Office of Student Life and Dr. Niccole Cerveny at the Red Mountain campus, she received nearly 15 bags filled with jackets and winter clothing, as well as contributions from the Veteran's Office and Children's Center at MCC. Packages were mailed to her apartment and her mother's home in Chinle regularly, increasing the number of items she could give. So plentiful was the support she received, that her aunt thankfully, made a trip from the reservation to bring a truckload of jackets back for her. When Marlinda left from Mesa she had packed, crammed, jammed, and filled her car to capacity with all the remaining donations. All told she collected 284 cold weather items to give out on Saturday, Nov. 9th.

As Saturday arrived, Marlinda, her boyfriend, mom, stepdad, and aunt all gathered the donated items together and brought them to the Basha's parking lot in Chinle to begin giving them out in the same place they had utilized just weeks before. A crowd of people awaited their arrival and Marlinda's excitement was high. However, as they were unloading their donations and beginning to give them out, they had a minor setback. An unhappy business owner complained of the gathering of people and called the authorities to get them removed. After a few moments of unsuccessful negotiations, Marlinda's team took the high road and left, but as karma would have it, found an even better spot. An open lot next to the one they had just vacated was available so they moved there. In a kind gesture that proved optimism can prevail in the face of adversity, the vacant lot's owner refused to take any type of payment to use his property. Instead he stood around talking and mingling with Marlinda's team of helpers and people who came for jackets. This provided a positive experience for everyone involved and even allowed ample space for a larger crowd of people to congregate and partake of the group's generosity.

As Marlinda reflected on this experience she explained that she could not stop smiling throughout the day and continued to be very pleased through the long weekend. People's gratitude and appreciation manifested themselves to her through adoring handshakes, hugs, countless thank-yous, and the excitement of children exclaiming their surprise and gratitude at getting the much-needed winter clothes. An elderly Navajo woman, speaking through her husband as translator, wept tears of joy upon receiving a warm coat and knitted beanie, gratefully acknowledging Marlinda's effortss. Not only was this second winter jacket drive a tremendous success, but it has driven a very bright MCC student to realize how much of an impact she can have, simply by putting herself aside, focusing on the needs of others, and trusting that good things will happen to good people. The American Indian Center greatly supports all the positive and beneficial efforts of our students and realizes that Marlinda is well on her way to greater success by remaining committed to her education, believing in others, and persevering in the face of adversity. We wish her all the best as she prepares to transfer to ASU in the Spring 2013 term and we look forward to seeing her do great things in the future.