The Citizen Potawatomi Nation supported local efforts to bring holiday cheer to Tribal members and others in the community. From toy drives to distributing food baskets, employees eagerly worked to share their giving spirit with others.

Grand Casino Hotel & Resort

Employees at the Grand Casino Hotel & Resort donated 394 toys and more than $3,000 in cash to the Salvation Army’s annual toy drive. As they gathered for a holiday lunch, staff brought dolls, board games, sporting goods, trucks and other presents.

“The staff are great people. They love (helping out). I know times are hard with inflation going up, but they love to give back, especially when it comes to kids,” said Grand Casino Hotel & Resort General Manager Joe Garcia.

CPN’s partnership with the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club has been in place for several years and become a long-time holiday tradition for the Grand’s nearly 700 employees.

“It just gives them a great feeling that they’re able to participate in things like that. Even though it’s been a rough year for (many employees), it just gives them that great feeling to help out,” Garcia said.

A representative of the Salvation Army collected the donations that were then distributed to area children who might not otherwise have received a new toy this year.

FireLake Discount Foods

FireLake Discount Foods donated food to the Salvation Army to help area families celebrate the season.

“Every year, we donate food in conjunction with the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree,” said FDF Director Richard Driskell. “While they (hand out gifts), they also give out a box of groceries. Our store donates some of that product. We have staff that go and help with the distribution that day.”

Assisting with the food basket distribution were Driskell, Bill Rumbo, Tyler Maxwell, Jason Boyce, Tim Yates, Timmy Tucker and Nicole Sanchez.

“We’ve been doing this for 10 plus years, and it’s a way for us to give back. We pride ourselves in giving back to the community, and that’s just one of the ways that we do it,” Driskell said.

This year’s basket included a ham, eggs and other staples that have recently gone up in price due to inflation, which made this year’s donations even more important to families experiencing economic challenges.

“A lot more people are needing and seeking donations due to inflation, high fuel prices, high grocery prices and high utility prices. There’s a lot more need nowadays than there has been in the past,” Driskell said.

Workforce Development & Social Services

CPN employees attended the Shawnee Police Department’s first-ever toy drive and participated in the 14th annual Shop-With-A-Cop event. The event was created to foster positive relationships between youth and law enforcement officers, the national Shop-With-A-Cop website said. School-age children are selected each year during the holiday season to shop at local stores to purchase gifts for members of their immediate family.

SPD received 751 toys that were distributed to 162 children, according to the department’s Facebook page. About 150 children and their families shopped at Walmart. Officers from the CPN Police Department were among the law enforcement agencies assisting. Also present were officers from the Shawnee, Asher and Earlboro police departments, Pottawatomie County and Lincoln County sheriff’s office, Kickapoo Tribal Police and the Absentee Shawnee Tribal Police.

Workforce Development & Social Services Safe and Stable Families Counselor Jamelle Payne attended both the toy drive and distribution. He nominated CPN families who participate in the department’s programs to receive toys.

“I’m super thankful to Glenn Blankenship of the Shawnee Rescue Mission for inviting me to witness the community joining together with tribal police officers, sheriffs and city officers,” Payne said. “You truly forget about the troubles of the world when surrounded by kids. It was a night of smiles, laughs and memories. Each of the officers helped create a smile for tomorrow. I appreciate Glenn for reaching out to our CPN Workforce & Social Services.”

While many people look forward to the holiday season, Payne said it is important to remember that others may experience depression during what is thought of as a happy time of year. He attended a workshop and learned that Oklahoma ranks third in the United States for rates of holiday-related depression, making CPN’s efforts to support tribal families even more critical.

“I’m proud that Shawnee is addressing (holiday-related depression) in so many different various ways with Project Safe, the police department, along with Shawnee Rescue Mission and the Hope House Shelter, with everyone coming together to make the difference,” Payne said. “It’s definitely needed. (Outreach) feeds the soul of everyone around.”

Garcia agreed that everyone should reach out during the holidays to care for the people around them.

“I tell our (managers) to do three things — take care of their employees, take care of yourself and take care of each other, and good things will happen,” he said.

Visit FireLake Discount Foods online at Learn more about the Workforce Development & Social Services department at