ZUNI, NM (Nov. 4, 2021) — Halloween 2021 is in the books, and the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project worked hard to ensure that local children would be able to celebrate the Zuni way. In partnership with the Santa Fe Community Foundation, ZYEP distributed 420 Halloween Wellness Kits to Zuni youth, transforming what is typically an unhealthy, sugar-oriented holiday into a healthy, active, family-oriented one.
The nonprofit youth organization distributed 300 kits in monster bags to families on Oct. 22. Each bag contained a pumpkin, acorn squash, corn, apples, oranges, and popcorn balls, as well as a Halloween-themed neck gaiter, notebook, and arts and crafts activities.
“We also included two recipes, one for stuffed acorn squash and the other for pumpkin muffins, with instructions for how to roast the pumpkin for the muffins,” said Shelley Edaakie, ZYEP’s office coordinator. “It was really fun getting all the kits put together.”
ZYEP also assembled 120 kits for youth football players, which staff distributed at their Sunday games. Each tote bag included apples and oranges, popcorn, a Halloween mask and neck gaiter, hand sanitizer, and paper towels.
With the support of 20 different funding organizations and countless individual donors, ZYEP has been able to deliver 5, 270 wellness kits to Zuni youth since the Covid-19 pandemic began in March 2020. Each distribution has featured its own theme and unique contents, yet they all have one thing in common.
“We make sure that each kit reinforces Zuni values and life ways,” explained Joe Claunch, ZYEP’s executive director. “With each distribution, our children and families have access to nutritious produce and activities that multiple generations can enjoy together — preparing meals, making art, and getting active. It’s all about encouraging healthy lifestyles and strengthening our kids’ connection to their Zuni culture.
“We’re honored that we were able to serve our community this way for Halloween,” he continued, “and we’re grateful to the Sante Fe Community Foundation for making our Halloween initiative possible.”
To learn more about the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project and its programs, and for information about making donations, partnering with ZYEP, and volunteering, call (505) 782-8000 or visit zyep.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest news and events, follow the nonprofit youth organization on Facebook (/zuniyouthenrichmentproject), Instagram (@zuniyouthenrichmentproject), and YouTube (/ZuniYouth).
Founded in 2009, the nonprofit Zuni Youth Enrichment Project is dedicated to promoting resilience among Zuni youth so they will grow into strong, healthy adults who are connected with Zuni traditions. ZYEP fulfills its mission by providing positive role models, enriching programs, and nurturing spaces that contribute to the healthy development of Zuni youth. ZYEP strives to provide every child with the encouragement and opportunities they need to reach their full potential.