SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — A group of University of Utah medical students is turning to the public to ask for their help in getting winter essentials to the homeless community in Navajo Nation.

The donation drive is set up in coordination with the nonprofit With Love, From Strangers. A list of needed donations can be found on Amazon.

Medical students from the university are trying to collect things like sleeping bags, non-perishable food items and winter clothing for the Navajo Nation community in Shiprock, New Mexico.

Tsivya Devereaux, a third-year University of Utah medical student, told ABC4 that she worked with family medicine down there. 

She said she saw first-hand the lack of resources not just for the homeless community but for everyone else. 

The ultimate goal is to establish a clinic on wheels, but first, Devereaux said she wants to make sure people make it through the winter. 

“This is healthcare: Making sure [people] do not freeze to death at night,” she said.

Devereaux added that it’s easier to donate to a local shelter, but the Navajo Nation desperately needs these items. 

“The Native Americans are the founders of our land, and we as the colonialists need to pay our respects and do what we can for them,” she said.

This is all part of a street medicine project. 

The tribal communities are vastly underserved, and Devereaux said they want to establish the first homeless shelter in Shiprock. 

“There are proportionately more Native American people that are homeless than they are Native American people in that town,” she said.

Indian Health Services released a video to help people understand the needs of the Navajo Nation, especially those who are unsheltered.

They are still collecting donations and will send out their first round of items in the next couple of weeks. 

Anyone who is interested in helping should reach out to With Love from Strangers.

ABC4 also received this statement from the University of Utah American Indian Resource Center:

Like many families across the State of Utah, the Navajo Nation is facing a housing crisis. The remoteness of many communities makes it difficult to provide adequate housing, leaving many homeless or under-housed. Many of these households also include multigenerational families who share small spaces and are at increased risk of getting sick. If you are able to help, please consider donating to Utah Navajo Health System which supports the community with access to healthcare, a food pantry, and firewood. Items needed right now include warm clothing such as coats, gloves, and hats, hygiene kits, and nonperishable food items.