“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

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“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

VIEWS: 2171 January 20, 2021

First Annual George L. Lerma Holiday Drive Honoring Veterans

By Dodie Manuel

Morningstar Miles and her family wanted to do something in honor of her brother, the late George L. Lerma. Miles and her three children, Asa Padilla, Isaiah Lerma and Zackariah Miles, wanted to continue to honor George’s legacy of helping veterans from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and surrounding tribes. 

Lerma’s family did just that by organizing the Holiday Drive Honoring Veterans, delivering hot meals for SRPMIC veterans on Christmas Eve. The family did get some help from Lerma’s motorcycle group, the Red Mountain Riders, who escorted the family to each of the veterans’ homes as they made their deliveries. The riders included James Osife, Leonard Villanueva, Dennis Toya and Sef Manzanares.

“This opportunity came about when me and my son adopted a family for Christmas here in the Community,” said Padilla. “I told my mom (Morningstar Miles) about it, and she wanted to do something similar, but to honor her brother. It has been eight years since he passed. Giving back and honoring our Community veterans is something he enjoyed, and we felt this would be a good time to do that.” 

Miles and her family worked with Delphine Burbank of the American Legion Post #114 and SRPMIC Veterans Representative Troy Truax to get the contact information for the Community veterans. The meals were ordered from Bashas’; Bashas’ Deli Manager Mary Hunt and her chef prepared all 26 meals that were delivered to the veterans and their families.

“We originally planned to do this event for Thanksgiving, but due to the overwhelming orders from people staying home due to COVID-19, they were unable to accommodate us. So, we moved it to Christmas Eve,” said Padilla. “Next year we will plan to have it on Thanksgiving Day.” 

Although George Lerma was not a veteran, he did a great deal of community service to help veterans. Miles and her children donated their own personal funds to help pay for the meals, and they provided goodie gift baskets as well. All those who participated in the Holiday Drive Honoring Veterans event followed Community guidelines by wearing face masks and gloves and maintaining 6 feet of distance. 

“We will greatly appreciate donations for next year, but the information will be out around September. We would like to reach more veterans in the Community, especially those who need the help,” said Padilla. “Thank you to everyone that helped to make this possible: Mary Hunt and Bashas’, James Osife and the Red Mountain Riders, Delphine Burbank and Troy Truax, and Chris Easchief with Devil’s Claw Photography for capturing photos.”