Writer’s block hit me just when a new blog was due. I just couldn’t think of anything exciting to say that would inspire everyone to help with our September project. Not sure our supporters need too much inspiration as so many of you have sent box after box to the High Horses with no prodding at all. Our projects this month are blankets that are sewn, crocheted, knitted, woven or purchased, new or gently used, and pajamas for kids in all sizes. Also needed is bedding for the 100 new beds donated last month which includes pillowcases, sheets, pillows, and mattress covers. Making a larger size quilt or afghan would be great, even if it means you only make one.
For this blog we’ll focus on blankets, quilts and afghans, but please work ahead on other things if blankets don’t appeal to you. It seems we’re right on target for getting warm items to the kids and their families, it was 37 degrees the other morning in Wanblee and there was even talk of snow for this week. If it doesn’t make it next week it will certainly be there before anyone wants it.
When I first started helping Pine Ridge there were families, especially elders, who refused to take blankets from people off the Rez. Native Americans had no immunity to smallpox (now eradicated) and to a lot of other diseases Europeans brought with them to the new world, so when they were exposed and became ill, most of them died. It’s long been thought one of the ways they were exposed was through donated army blankets that had been used on men who died of smallpox. From this article we learn, that blankets were not the culprit, lack of immunity to the diseases was the main reason for the deaths. But because this information was passed on to Native Americans thru the moccasin trail and for many other reasons , evident in Native American history, tribal people believed it. Only over time, have people on the Rez been willing to trust donations from the outside. The reason we ask for new or nearly new items with a list of guidelines for used donations is because of the past. Our Native American friends have been treated so badly for so long that we want to make them feel they are special and demonstrate that with the gifts they receive from all of us.
Native Americans believe they need to take care of Mother Earth and only take what is necessary to survive. Animals were taken to provide meat for the family and their hides for clothing and to cover their tipis. When the buffalo numbers decreased, they had to find a new way to cover themselves so they traded items with the Europeans for cloth and wool blankets . Native Americans learned how to make quilts from the Europeans. Native Americans have been making quilts for many years, you can read about the traditional star quilt here and it’s significance in their religion and beliefs.
Theresa wants to revive the art of quilt making with the local women and teach them the skills they need to make quilts for their families. There are many women around Pine Ridge who make beautiful quilts and sell them, something Theresa hopes might be a possibility for some of the women in the Wanblee area if they can get the needed supplies, at least initially until they sell some. It will bring income to the family. Most of the quilts they will be making at first will be for their families and made in the “sewing bee ” fashion with some putting the quilt together and others quilting it by hand on quilting frames. Hopefully , one day I will get to sit in on the swing circle in Wanblee and learn how to make the star quilt under their direction.
Here are a few samples of quilts made for me by some Native Americans, one from a family I sponsored, who gave it to me to thank me for helping them and the other two I bought and need to get quilted.
Not all the quilts that Native Americans make are able to be sold as the stitching and the cloth used are not of high enough quality. Many of the quilts were and still are made from scraps of material or by cutting up old clothes and were/are used for bed covers, for covering for the housing, for insulating the home etc. Laundering quilts on the Rez is an issue, so making really expensive quilts does not make sense except for those made for those special occasions. The quilts I’m making are the functional type for everyday use but am making them a little more interesting by using bright and cheerful colors. Remember Native Americans love lots of color (Lakota colors are yellow, black, red and white) so check your stashes and have some fun. Please don’t use fabrics printed with owls as it’s a sign of death or coyotes as they are tricksters.
I made one of my quilt tops from corduroy squares cut from pants I could no longer wear and another from men’s shirts so think outside the box when looking for quilt fabric. And the rest from scraps left over from other projects. Quilt backing can be cotton, flannel, sheeting or pieced from different fabrics if yours isn’t large enough. Batting can be traditional or an old light weight blanket, flannel, lightweight fleece, etc. Here are a few ideas for easy quilt making,…. strip quilt (use a rotary cutter if you have one), bandana quilt (or cut large squares of fabric), and a basic sew and turn quilt .
Quilt making can be expensive, if you purchase everything new it’s cheaper to buy a quilt ready made. If you’re a beginner creating a stash is the most economical way to make quilts, recycle old clothing, scour resale shops and garage sales and ask friends for donations to build up your stash. Making children’s quilts is a little cheaper as they don’t take large pieces of batting or backing. Piece your quilt backs and your batting from smaller pieces, in other words never throw anything away if you’re going to make quilts. I love to create for the younger kids as I see how excited my grandkids get when they get something new.
Since Christmas will be coming soon some of these quilts can be used as gifts for children. Make a “theme” quilt using kids fabrics and send a book or stuffed animal to match, you can even add a pocket to store their treasure in. Fabric stores sell quilt panels for kids printed with maps, roads (add a toy car), cartoon characters, etc. that make great gifts and are quick to make. Quilts for baby can have ties added to hold toys that can easily be detached for washing. Some ideas…… superhero quilt from T-shirts, tic-tac-toe quilt, a checkerboard game quilt, fox quilt, (increase size for older child) and an I spy quilt as done here and here. Theses are a great way to use up scraps and great way to teach kids their numbers, colors, animals in a fun way etc.
Quillows would make a great gift for older kids and teens using any fabric that’s not too childish or babyish, the last thing a teen wants is a quilt like his kid brother or sister’s! Traditional quilts are good for this age group too and something all kids would appreciate is a fleece sleeping bag to use in the community bed, it’s sort of like a bed in a bed. Here’s a tutorial for a no sew sleeping bag made from fleece or you can make one from fleece yardage or even some of the fleece blankets sewn together. Here are a few other patterns to sew them here and here. You can also make tie fleece quilts as seen in these photos. There are a few ways to tie them as seen here on this Pinterest site.
Knitters and crocheters get those needles and hooks ready we need your help making afghans. We don’t want to leave the “loomer’s” out, if you have one of the larger looms make squares and sew them together for an afghan or make a complete blanket using these looms here and here. Of course you can always sew squares of fleece or denim together and make a rag quilt. Many beautiful afghans have been made in the past by our members and folks on the Rez love them. Gather some friends and work on making an afghan together with each person using different colors or patterns, just make sure your finished size is all the same for ease in assembling. I’m just putting the finishing touches on a corner to corner knit baby afghan, see a similar one in crochet here. There are lots of ideas on Ravelry and Pinterest for making blankets and afghans. Just google those sites for ideas. I’ve been going through my yarn stash and have some set aside to make baby sweaters when we do our warm clothing month. Joan Nelson asked for a supply of free yarn to be sent to the Rez from a yarn company and we’re happy to report they’ve received it already. Some women already know how to knit and crochet on the Rez and other’s would like to learn so they can have a hobby and keep busy and make things for their family and friends.
Please share pictures and patterns of your quilt/afghans with us here, our Facebook page or Yahoo group. If you’re not a crafter and want to contribute send a blanket or a kid’s sleeping bag new or gently used or donate cotton or cotton/polyester fabrics or batting to the Wanblee ladies sewing group so they can make a quilt for their family. Worsted weight acrylic yarn, crochet hooks in sizes G, H, I, or J and knitting needles in sizes 7, 8 or 9 are needed too. If you have any looms you’re not using, those would be great to get a child interested in learning to work with yarn and make something at the same time. Please send a pattern and skein of worsted yarn along too.
I have a stack of quilts pieced together that I will show you once I get them finished. I made various sizes and used many colors.
Please send all your donations to Jerome and Theresa High Horse at this address. Thanks for helping us warm the Rez!
My apologies for not being active on the site the past few weeks. We spent last week with our new 3 month old granddaughter and her parents, which we thoroughly enjoyed. The previous week good friends from Illinois arrived and we spent the week exploring parts of California together and catching up on the local news of the place we lived for 34 years. Family and friends are so important to our lives and we loved spending time with them.
Summer is winding down and children across the US are starting back to school, Wanblee student’s first day was August 28th. The Labor Day break a few days later allows them to ease into the new year slowly.
Theresa and Jerome have been receiving lots of items for school – backpacks, pencil cases, school supplies, school clothing and they send their thanks for all your help in making sure kids are starting the year with new clothes and the supplies they need to start learning. Last week the High Horses drove to Porcupine to pick up a delivery of backpacks donated by Running Strong, this is the first year they’ve received “back to school” help from this organization. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit sent many filled backpacks as well for the kids. Thanks to all the generous donations this year most students will have a bag and some supplies to get started. Jerome thinks there will be enough left to give some backpacks to a tribal school about 30 miles away. When I called the other day Theresa had people knocking on their door asking for help with school supplies. By donating to the back to school program we’re encouraging students to attend school in an area where attendance is a problem and we’re helping parents free up some of their money so they can use it for other essentials such as food, electric, etc. Continue sending any school supplies you have, students will run out and need to be re-supplied and extras can also be used for gifts at Christmas.
Jerome and Theresa had pretty much given up on the back to school picnic idea as all their funds were spent on the extra fuel needed to pick up long distance donations and making more deliveries than usual around the Rez. Their daughter still wanted the kids to have their party so she provided the hot dogs, hamburgers, buns , watermelon and fruit juice for a cook out using the barbecue grill that Jerome designed. They had a beautiful afternoon for the cookout and the kids received their school supplies and backpacks. Afternoon turned into a nice evening so Jerome decided to show a movie as some of the kids were still there. Some of our generous supporters recently sent in a fresh shipment of popcorn and supplies so they enjoyed fresh popcorn along with their movie. A popcorn machine was donated a while back by members of the local fire department so that made for a real movie experience.
Jerome and Theresa received another call last week from Running Strong to pick up food donations for the area and with the help of several volunteers, they put together 300 boxes of food for distribution from contents of the boxes received. Many items are divided into small amounts and packaged in plastic bags or containers- like coffee, sugar etc. Some boxes were picked up at the site but many others had to be delivered to folks with no transportation. Some of the gas money needed for the deliveries came from a newly formed 501c3 organization, (still waiting final approval from the IRS), called Lakota Circle of Friends. We will hopefully be working alongside them as they plan to help Wanblee and the surrounding areas. Once they get their website up we’ll share that link and give you more information about them and which projects they plan to help with. We all may have a slightly different focus but with Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, Sew For Kids, our Ravelry Sew For Kids Knit and Crochet group, the Halfknits, Pine Ridge Elders and Baby group, Dress A Girl Around the World, Running Strong, NAHA and the newly formed Lakota Circle of Friends working together hopefully we can make a difference and help make permanent changes to the area that will make life better for it’s residents and give them hope for the future. Many of these groups are small but what they lack in numbers they make up for in the generosity and determination of their members. When we formed Sew For Kids our idea was to work with a smaller area on the Rez so we could make more of an impact. The biggest challenge for us was finding people on the Rez to work with, fortunately we found Jerome and Theresa High Horse who’ve been a dream to work with. Because Wanblee is in a more isolated area of the Rez we’ve found the people there to be so appreciative of any help that comes their way.
This past month Jerome and Theresa received a donation of 100 queen size mattresses from NAHA and have since delivered them, with the help of their trusty volunteers, to people needing one. Many on the receiving end had never owned a mattress and others had never had a mattress that large. Jerome and his volunteers want to make more pallet bed frames so that will be one of their Fall projects. Unfortunately on delivery day Jerome slipped and fell when his bad knee,(soon to be repaired), gave way and he landed on his elbow. He chipped his elbow, twisted the wrist on his other arm and his right leg. He will have to be on “consultant only” duty for many of the projects in the next month or so until he gets himself back into a more functional state. We wish Jerome a speedy recovery from these recent injuries and with his upcoming knee surgery.
The house for Bernadette is nearly finished but due to some unforeseen issues during the build, work was delayed and will be completed by some construction friends of Jerome’s from Wisconsin. When the home is finished we’ll be sharing pictures. The home is livable now which is good for Bernadette as she and her son were living in a tent during the construction process.
News from Sew For Kids….We want to thank all of you who have sent donations recently. Many of those shipments came in without a return address so Theresa couldn’t send a thank you letter. The High Horse’s are most grateful for all the donations they receive and like to acknowledge your gifts. They’re used to seeing packages arrive from the US but were recently surprised to see boxes from Quebec, Canada and as far away as Australia. The box from Australia contained some adorable stocking type caps and she would like to thank whoever sent them. A BIG THANKS to those donors who hear about us and help in their own special way. Please remember to add a note with your address so they can acknowledge receipt and thank you properly. We also like to acknowledge donations from SFK donors in our blogs.
One of our supporters, Darlene Dean and her husband, made a recent trip to the Rez and visited with Jerome and Theresa. Their 2 daughters helped with the purchase and collection of items that filled 20 boxes! They took things for the school project- clothes and school supplies, winter items including hats, boots, coats, scarves and shoes, outerwear for various ages, blankets, underwear , socks and PJ’s, toiletries, and OTC drugs, baby items, coloring books, food, popcorn supplies, party dish and cutlery supplies, sewing supplies, 20 pairs of leather gloves for the Woodchucks, ice scrapers, tarps, chainsaw oil and many other items not listed. They took everything but the kitchen sink, it was just like Christmas! They plan to make this a yearly trip and are already collecting for next year. A BIG thank you to the Dean family for their generosity!!
Cheryl Torres, long time SFK supporter, has been quietly sewing fleece sleep sacks for the new babies on the Rez. She’s made more than 30 to date and they come with a matching hat and mitts. Cheryl loves babies and so do her granddaughters who helped her with packing the boxes and of course their suggestions on color choices. Thank you so much Cheryl for all your hard work. We don’t hear a lot from Cheryl, now we know it’s because she’s too busy sewing!
Another of our faithful volunteers, Beulah from Wisconsin, (who just turned 81 a couple of weeks ago), recently finished 20 messenger bags with matching pencil cases for boys in grades K through 2 and added socks and underwear to each bag. Many thanks, the boys will love them! Beulah is our “Recycle Queen” and can remake, repurpose and reuse just about anything. She’s also a retired professional seamstress having made dental uniforms for the trade and sewed everything for her 3 boys while they were growing up including snowsuits, coats mittens, everything she said except their underwear and socks. Hmm… she must’ve run out of time on those socks, she knows how to knit.
Margaret Hrbachak, another of our valuable senior volunteers, recently sent in lots of school supplies along with dresses and PJ’s she made and is already busy working on her adorable Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls to be given out to some lucky kids for gifts at this year’s Christmas party. She’s another of our “quiet” volunteers we seldom hear from but she’s always busy working on something for the kids. She’s a longtime supporter of Pine Ridge and has sent things to the Rez for many years. Thank you Margaret for your continued support!
Carol Binnie-Johnson and her supporters from Dress A Girl – Tucson, have been busy once again making dresses for the Rez. Supporters from many states in the US sew dresses and send them to Carol for distribution. Katie, one of those volunteers and an expert seamstress, focuses on sewing dresses for plus size girls which are especially needed as most of the clothing donations that come in on the Rez are in the smaller sizes so these girls are usually left out. Another new volunteer has been sewing long sleeve dresses for the girls to wear in cooler weather. Many of the women who sew for Carol’s group request their dresses go to children in the US so this has been a great match for us to have them working with our group. Carol and many others have sent sewing supplies for the new sewing group which has been meeting and sewing informally at the High Horse home but plan on renting the Kennedy Hall for some serious sewing when they can afford the rental fees.
Jan Eggert sent in lots of clothing and backpacks that will all be put to good use. Jan and her husband are great garage sale people as are Janet, my co- admin at SFK and her sister-in- law Ruth. They even went to many of those sales on their vacation, now that’s dedication! They are collecting coats (75 so far) and other warm items to ship to the Rez in late October or early November. Jan E and her husband hope to visit with the High Horse’s next year.
We’re not officially working on Christmas gifts yet but Donna W. and her granddaughter have finished 20 tote bags for the younger kids for gifts and she’s asked her friends to help fill them with crayons, coloring books, etc. Kudos to Donna for cultivating her granddaughter’s giving spirit and to her for spreading that spirit to her friends. There’s nothing more inspiring than kids helping kids. Her granddaughter also sews dresses for girls through another project, what a wonderful young lady and we’re grateful she chose SFK to work with!
We’ve decided for September to start working on warm items for the inevitable cold weather that usually makes an early appearance on the Rez. Warm blankets are always needed and now there are 100 new beds out there needing blankets, mattress covers/pads, sheets, pillows and pillow cases.
Blankets/quilts/afghans are needed in baby, youth, twin, double and queen sizes. Of course clean, gently used items are always welcome. The children’s pillowcases we made earlier this year were a big hit so now’s your chance to make some for older teens and adults. Also very much needed to get a good night’s sleep are pajamas in all sizes. You can make the bottoms from fleece or flannel and buy a long sleeve T-shirt for the top or make the top and buy the bottoms, any combo works. Get friends or families together for a fun social day.
Just as a heads up for those who are not blanket makers, warm outer wear items are much needed and will be our project in November and December. Some of these items will be given out as gifts at the party and our October project will be making/purchasing Christmas gifts. I ‘ve heard the Pine Ridge Elders/Babies group and the Halfknits have already gotten a head start on the Christmas and winter warmth projects. Whatever skill or interest you have we need your help, just find a project you like to do and dig in!
Please send all your donations to the High Horses here. Again thanks to everyone that gave so generously to our Lakota friends. We continue to be amazed at the generosity of SFK volunteers, you’re the best!!
July has been a busy month for the High Horses and the community of Wanblee. The Pow Wow is happening now as I write this, Jerome and Theresa attended but didn’t stay long as they had to get back to oversee volunteers working on community projects. They did get to the Sun Dance and sweat lodge as did some of their visitors.
Jerome, his work crew and some Youthworks volunteers worked on getting Bernadette’s house ready for the re-build that began this week and continues for two weeks. Volunteers from Wisconsin and Minnesota arrived to begin the complete re-construction of the house. The house was in such sad shape Jerome’s crew had to strip it down to the framework. This project has been 2 -3 years in the making and is finally being realized thanks to this group of volunteers and the efforts of Jerome and Theresa who were instrumental in finding funding and workers for the job. They’ve spent many hours coordinating this project and looking for constructions materials including the services of a backhoe. We’ll share photos of the finished home when completed. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit donated a bed to Bernadette and to her son and a new refrigerator, the Wisconsin group will be bringing more household items too. Theresa has been saving things for Bernadette that come in on the monthly NAHA truck such as sheets, towels, a comforter, dishes and some bathroom items. Someone donated a tent so Bernadette will be camping outside her home during construction.
Hopefully this group of workers will also have time to build ramps for three disabled elders. The original plan was to arrive last week so they could help clear wood from a lady’s ranch to get ahead of the winter wood project but those plans changed so Jerome and his crew of young men will begin that work after the house build is over.
If this build is a success, there’s already a plan to raise funds to build a small home for an elder with heart problems like the one they built for Roland. Roland still isn’t in his new home as he’s deciding if he wants to live in his current trailer, on his uncle’s land (a temporary move as the property changes hands upon his death), or in the town of Wanblee. Jerome and a friend are inquiring about buying some deeded land in town to put the house on if Roland agrees to move there.
Outhouses are a big need on the Rez, many homes have no running water or sewage systems. Youthworks built some new outhouses for those that lost them to recent storms but their time on the Rez has come to an end as it’s time to head home for school or college. Each week a new crew of young people arrived and were assigned a project to work on, coordinators were the same and remained on the Rez for the summer. Houses were painted, home repairs made, weeds mowed around homes and outhouses and the young people that came learned about the Rez and Lakota culture and made many lasting friendships and memories.
Recently NAHA donated 8 queen size mattresses so Jerome and his crew built frames for each bed out of pallets. Gotta love those pallets and the items you can make from them! Having a bed frame gets people off the cold, drafty floors so they stay warmer during the frigid winters. There aren’t enough beds for everyone in many homes on the Rez so they have a “community bed” meaning many family members share the same bed. Those new beds will need sheets, pillows, pillowcases and some warm blankets for those of you that want to help. Pillowcases are easy to make and any extra’s can always be used, if you have any gently used sheets send them too. One of our future projects will be making warm items for the cold winter ahead and blankets will be on that list.
Jerome has also been busy (does he ever sleep?) insulating, installing electric and skirting around the storage truck so he can store the summer machinery there in the winter. The truck has been moved to its final resting spot on his property. Hopefully we’ll receive photos to share with you.
People are still working in the community garden which took a beating from a recent hail storm destroying some of the crops. Some things have recovered though and people are enjoying the fresh veggies.
The High Horses held a naming ceremony and 7 people were given their Lakota names. A wide variety of people attended including adults who had never received a name and children of various ages. The recipient’s first and last names are translated into Lakota and they’re given a name that’s relevant to native culture, usually pertaining to nature such as “Soaring Eagle”.
School starts August 28th and I’m sure we easily reached our goal of 25 filled backpacks. A big thanks goes out to Pat Jacks and her Franciscan fraternity, they filled 5 complete backpacks and collected over 100 notebooks, tons of pencils, pens, filler paper, binders, scissors, glue, glue sticks sharpeners, crayons, colored pencils, folders, etc. Those supplies will go a long way in filling up those school bags and pencil cases our members are either sewing or buying. Donna S, Jennifer B, Carol B, Pat J, Beulah L and others are making some of those. We’re hoping folks will send in some pics so we can share with you in a future blog. Thanks also go out to Carol M, Janet S, Ruth G, Kerry R , Donna S. Alice A , to name a few donors and many others who’ve already sent school supplies. Darlene D and her hubby are driving their supplies to SD on their way to their vacation spot. Please continue sending supplies, the kids will need to be re-supplied again in January after Christmas break and prices will increase dramatically after the “back to school” sales are over. Think about storing a few now for January.
The back to school picnic that was being planned is temporarily on hold until they can find funds to purchase the food, a definite decision will be made in the next few weeks. Children were to receive their school supplies during the picnic but they will still be handed out regardless. Let’s cross our fingers the needed funding will be found and the picnic happens as it’s a nice way to end the summer and start the new school year.
The sewing circle is meeting, sewing supplies are arriving and another sewing machine has been donated by a Wisconsin supporter. Fabric and thread are ongoing needs so please send as you can. Raid your stash, check out garage sales and thrift stores as Carol M did, ask friends and family for donations. Karen H sent fabric for quilts and to make regalia such as shawls and jingle dresses. Carol BJ from Dress A Girl Tucson receives lots of fabric donations so she shared some with Theresa as well. Judy C sent pin cushions she made for all the ladies, others have sent notions, scissors, etc. Theresa says they still need more pins, needles, thread, quilt batting and polyester fiberfill . Batting and polyester fill are needed as their first projects will be pillows and quilts, an 8 year old made her first pillow the other day. If you have any spare quilting rulers send them along too.
When the circle begins their quilt making they plan to have two teams, one group will do the piecing and the other will be hand quilting around a frame just like the quilting bees of the past. They’re looking for a large quilting frame so if you have one to donate let us know. If you have DIY plans to make one or have other ideas please share with us. There are some smaller PVC quilting frames heading to the Rez so that’s a start but they’re looking for a frame large enough to have several quilters working on the same quilt at a time. The group would like to eventually find a long-arm quilting machine so they can produce a quality product to sell. The machine would be community owned belonging to the sewing circle. Women who are lucky enough to own a sewing machine and make quilts for profit have to find someone with a long-arm machine to do the quilting which can cost upwards of $200 or more which cuts deeply into their profits. Women on Rosebud Reservation have acquired a machine and started a business so the women of Wanblee would like to do the same. For now the quilts being made will be for families in need or their own personal use.
WIC was really pleased to receive all the donations you’ve sent for babies and toddlers so a big thanks those of you that sent them. Ruth G sent a big box of toys for the daycare center, which they were thrilled to receive, we’ll let you know if there are more things needed. Our apologies to those of you we didn’t mention by name, there are so many that donated to this project we lost count! We know that none of you helping the Rez are doing it for name recognition but we still like to give credit where credit is due so if we missed you let us know.
More popcorn supplies have arrived on the Rez thanks again to our supporters, Carol M being one of our biggest popcorn suppliers. July has been too busy with work projects, Pow Wow’s, etc. to show movies but everything is being saved for whenever movie night resumes, hopefully soon. Winters are long so having a chance to go to the movies is a really big treat for the kids and something they look forward to.
Food donations have come in from Alice A and many others that stuff the corners of their boxes with food items. Theresa loves to get small cans of tuna, chicken, ham, spam, etc. to give out to families to add to their soup pot adding a little protein for those growing children.
Well that’s all the news for now. Find a project that interests you or contact us for suggestions of how to help. Every conversation I have with Jerome begins with a request to thank all of you for your wonderful gifts. You make his and Theresa’s job so much easier as they have something to give out when families come calling with a need. Many of you send things we never hear about until I call Jerome so thanks to all of you generous people working behind the scenes. Everything you send is needed by someone and appreciated, you are making life a little easier and giving hope to children and their families. Thank you!!!
Starting a new school year was always an exciting time for me. I looked forward to learning new things, meeting new friends and catching up with old ones, meeting my new teachers and getting involved in after school activities. But what I loved most was starting out the school year with new clothes, shoes and school supplies, and looking forward to a new beginning.
My mom would load all 5 of us in the car for 3 days of school shopping. One day would be devoted to shoes, another day clothing and the last day we would get a new backpack and fill it with whatever was on our supply list. Since there were 5 of us we usually got one new outfit, the rest of our school clothing was hand me downs or anything from the previous year that still fit and a new pair of shoes if we needed them.
The past few months we’ve been working on sending summer clothes for the kids so with school starting in mid August they can get through a month or so before we start our drives for warmer clothing. Some of the dresses/skirts that were sent for the girls can last a little longer with a long sleeved shirt and a pair of leggings worn underneath. Our SFK supporters have been so generous in providing clothes for the kids and some of you have included socks, shoes and underwear in your packages. Many have told me they make it a habit to throw in a package of underwear or socks in their cart whenever they go shopping. With the recent donations of shoes from Running Strong and hopefully a few other organizations, most kids will have a decent pair of shoes to start the new school year.
Starting school on the Rez is a time when parents want their kids to look nice and to have the supplies needed to start learning as they feel it reflects badly on them if they can’t provide for them. Many parents will even keep their children at home until they can scrape up the money to buy what they need. However, this practice severely affects the amount of funding each school receives as it’s based on the number of students present on a certain day. Crazy Horse school in Wanblee can only service so many students as there aren’t enough teachers or books for each grade, so they need all the funding they can get. Many children are bused to other schools on or off the Rez, there are both public and tribal schools. Many kids attend public schools as they receive more resources than the tribal schools. Teachers in the schools on the Rez may come from foreign countries (their ticket to possible US citizenship) as well as from organizations like Teach For America as they lack teachers on the Rez with adequate skills. Some teachers not used to Rez conditions leave mid year. For the kids this can be an issue as there is lack of continuity from year to year because the school staff changes so often. Some of these issues of course, do exist off the Rez in other low income areas of the country. Education is the key to success and a good foundation and developing a love of learning depends on a child’s first experiences with school.
If children have the needed school supplies they can be ready to start learning from day one. Teachers, like many in our schools off the Rez, can only pay for so many items from their own pockets. So that’s where we come in, we would like to fill a minimum of 25 school bags. If you sew and have a stash simple school bags and pencil cases can be made for the younger students. Remember those bags we made around Easter? Well they were all given out at the party and the kids loved them! Since these are for toting books and supplies use a heavier fabric such as denim, twill, corduroy, etc. Check out my Pinterest board for ideas.. This is the time of year backpacks are on sale along with school supplies so please let us know of any good sales you find here, our Yahoo group or our Facebook page.
Needed school supplies:
- Paper, loose and spiral bound, wide and/or college ruled
- Pens, pencils and sharpeners, erasers
- Safety scissors
- Washable markers fine and wide tipped
- Glue and glue sticks (melt in the mail in the warmer months)
- Pencil cases
- Sanitary hand wipes
Hearts of the Sacred Spirit and Worldwide Hunger Relief will be joining us in this Back to School Drive. Hopefully with all our groups working together we can send the kids off to school properly outfitted and supplied and ready to learn. There will be a back to school picnic held soon so this will be the perfect time for children to receive a filled backpack. After school starts extra supplies can be given to the school to hand out to students in need.
Please share with us what you’re sending so we can track our progress. Donations can be sent to Jerome and Theresa here.
As always thanks from Sew For Kids.
“Summertime and the living is easy” so they say in the song by George Gershwin in the musical ” Porgy and Bess” and , maybe it is for many of us but not for the Rez. Summer is the time that volunteers arrive to help the local communities with projects of all kinds. Summer is the time to take advantage not only of the extra help but also of the good weather.
So here’s the latest Rez news……….
The Woodchucks are busy cutting and stacking wood for next winter. Much better to do it now during nice weather when the men don’t have to worry about frozen hands and feet. Most don’t own a coat and show up for a day of woodcutting wearing tennis shoes. Thankfully they’ve received work gloves from some of our generous members, but they’re constantly wearing them out and needing more. Once winter hits they will need more saw blades and oil for the saws.
The vegetable garden needs constant attention and volunteers from the community and from visiting groups help to keep it in shape, lots to weed, water, plant, etc. This year they tried pallet gardens for the first time so will be interested to hear how those work out. Last time I talked to Jerome there were several items coming up between the slats. Gardens allow families to afford healthy food in the summer.
Movie night is back and an important event for the kids. They sit outside the High Horse home and watch movies projected on a homemade white, wooden screen that Jerome made and attached to the side of the house. Requests have come in again for some more popcorn supplies like oil, bags of regular popcorn, popcorn bags, hot chocolate, etc The last movie they showed was ” Little Rascals” that the kids enjoyed. If it gets too chilly, blankets you sent in and a fire keep the people warm outside. It is a desert climate so it’s hot during the day but does cool off at night, thank goodness!
Organizing volunteers is a big job and Jerome scouts out the area to see where they can best be used. Recently Sew For Kids purchased a trimmer so they can clear away brush and weeds from around the homes and outhouses of the elderly and disabled. We also sent some string for the machine that will have to be replaced from time to time.
Volunteers have been busy doing that job as well as painting homes that need a little sprucing up. Ramps for the elderly and disabled need to be added to homes and some outhouses need to be rebuilt due to recent storms knocking several down.
There’s always truck delivery contents to be sorted and handed out to those that need them or delivered to those that don’t have transportation in from the outlying areas. A recent NAHA truck brought in some toiletries. Volunteers, visiting and some local people, make up the bags for individual needy families. Youthworks helped with the 2 recent distributions. Wonder why we sometimes ask for plastic bags. Boxes are used first but they do not always have enough to use. Of course they need them for garbage bags at community events and if the High Horses have to foot the bill every time then it gets expensive. Garbage service on the Rez is hit or miss so is why you see so much trash around homes.
Running Strong gave them a donation of running shoes and laundry soap so Jerome and Theresa headed over there to pick them up. There won’t be enough for everyone that needs a pair, but it’s a good start and will help the kids who need shoes to start the new school year in August. People must sign in to receive a donation to make sure that all is distributed as fairly as possible. There is never enough for all but they try to help the most needy families in the area.
Summer is Pow Wow time and each community on the Rez hosts their own. People are busy putting the finishing touches on jingle dresses, dance shawls , grass skirts , ribbon shirts and other regalia. Summer is also Sun Dance time, which is a very sacred spiritual event held by many of the Plains Indians tribes. Sweat lodges and other ceremonial preparations are held prior to the actual Sun Dance ceremony.
The big project for early August is repairing an elder’s home that is in near unlivable condition for an elder and her son. The home will have to be taken down to the frame and then rebuilt. A church group from Wisconsin is providing the supplies and the manpower to do the rehab along with Rez volunteers. A picture’s worth a thousand words so here’s the before photos of the home with the after picture coming in late August when the work is completed. Another elder will receive a new roof during their visit.
Speaking of school, we’re starting a new month so it’s time for a new project. You guessed it…school supplies! We can easily sew pencil cases and tote bags for the younger kids, we’ll be providing some suggestions later as well as sales we hear about for school supplies. Walmart has cheap supplies starting in July but you need to shop early as they sell out early. The larger office supply stores usually run a couple of really cheap items every week to lure you into the store, but worth a stop if you happen to be driving by. If you use Amazon , sign in under Amazon Smile, and choose Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, the organization we are under and 1% of the bill will go towards their cause to help the people on the Rez.
Needed school supplies:
- Paper, loose and spiral bound, wide and/or college ruled
- Pens, pencils and sharpeners, erasers
- Safety scissors
- Washable markers fine and wide tipped
- Glue and glue sticks
- Pencil cases
Not school supplies but still always needed are underwear and socks for boys and girls. There’s an ongoing need for these items, they’re always on the “most requested” list and they’ll be on sale whenever the “back to school” sales start. We have links for free underwear patterns on the SFK Pinterest site for those of you interested in trying that project.
There is a back to school cook out planned for the start of the school year in mid August.
We realize a lot of you are either on vacation or have plans for one so for July we’re concentrating on purchased items to send since your time is limited and everyone is out enjoying the weather and their family. Hope you and your families all had an enjoyable weekend and commemorated Independence Day with parades, BBQ’s, socializing and fireworks.
Send any items to the High Horses here. Thanks from Sew For Kids.
In a few of the past blogs I’ve talked about helping the women in Wanblee and surrounding communities set up a sewing circle and maybe even working with us on some projects in the future, sort of a sister group. Theresa has began to help a few women learn to sew by starting them out with making their first quilt. The goal is to increase the number of women involved with classes/sewing sessions being held at the Kennedy Center. I personally love sewing along with others as it’s a good way to learn new skills, share patterns and just get together and have fun. A sewing group in Wanblee could do the same and also give women a chance to build new friendships, discuss local news and become more involved in their communities. They could learn to repair their own clothing and even learn how to recycle or refashion the unfashionable clothing that sometimes comes in on the trucks. Sewing could be a source of income for women making and selling their wares, sewing regalia for Pow Wow’s and doing alterations for people needing a new zipper, etc.
Women could learn to sew and preserve the tradition of the star quilt. These special quilts are given out to commemorate births, deaths, graduation or just to honor someone special. I sponsored a Lakota family for many years and they honored me with a star quilt which is very dear to me and especially meaningful as the family had so little. Getting girls involved in sewing could teach them a skill which would help build their self confidence and maybe keep them from doing things that could be destructive to their lives. You can read more about star quilts here and see them here. I met an elder a few years ago that made a star quilt top every day. I’ve purchased a few of these beautiful quilt tops from other Native Americans that I need to have quilted.
This past week Rachel, president of Hope 4 Women International , sent a very generous donation of three new sewing machines to Theresa for the sewing circle. This organization strives to empower women around the world. This brings the total available machines to six, two of them belong to Theresa and her sister and one was donated last year during Janet’s visit with Jerome and Theresa. Carol Binnie Johnson from Dress A Girl Around the World- Tucson helped us in making the connection with Hope 4 Women. Thank you ladies for helping the women of Wanblee and please visit the sites of both of these great organizations and see all the wonderful things they do for women.
We can help the sewing group too by sending notions and supplies for them. Below is a list from Theresa of needed items.
- Bobbins, Class 66 and 15
- Fabric, any kind and color
- Needles, machine all sizes; hand sewing and quilting, all sizes
- Quilt batting and fiberfill for pillows, etc.
- Thread, hand quilting and general purpose, all kinds and colors but especially neutral colors and black and white for hand quilting.
- Yarn, any color
- Scissors, dressmaker type and smaller, thread snips
- Straight pins, all sizes, safety pins, all sizes; larger better for “pin basting” quilts
- Rotary cutting supplies: self healing boards, cutters, blades, rulers
- Tape measures, seam gauges, seam guides for the machine, yardstick
- Fabric markers, disappearing or other and quilting pencils for marking tops
- Quilting Frame, lap type hoop or PVC; If donating large floor type, let us know as want to check with Theresa re the space
- buttons ,snaps, elastic, zippers
SFK would like to also make a few things to get them started…..pin cushions, needle holders, trash thread holders and a sewing bag to hold all their supplies. First we need to get some basic supplies for the group project and then can work on a bag of items that each person might need to work on items while at home. Jerome said he would put together a thread holder to store all the spools of thread. Hopefully once the ladies learn to sew they can make their own starter supplies for new members joining the group. Check out this page and this page for some ideas for making these items. Also here are some sewing organizers and ideas of what to put in the kit.
We’re excited about this new venture and hope that with a little help and encouragement from us and Theresa’s teaching skills, this will be something that has the potential to change lives on the Rez. We’ll ask for pictures once the group is up and running. Let us know if you belong or have belonged to a sewing group and your experiences there.
This isn’t a monthly project and your donations can be sent here at any time. We thank you for your continued generous support to our friends in Wanblee.
Will life ever slow down around this place? Every week I start out with big plans to get a lot of things done but something always seems to come up and back they go on the “to do ” list, blog included. I still make time to sew every day but usually don’t accomplish as much as I’d hoped. Many of our great volunteers have been sending boxes to the Rez full of clothing and other goodies for babies and children. Wouldn’t you love to see all the kids wearing their new outfits around town this summer? The summer clothing project has been an outstanding success, everyone pat yourself on the back, and June isn’t over yet!
Once I realized the clothing needs were being taken care of I decided to work on accessories. What a great way to use up some of my scraps, which you all know by now I have plenty of since nothing gets thrown out. I sent 7 diaper bags during bag month to Jerome and Theresa so decided to work on some things to help fill those bags.
First project was a changing pad, I’ve made several of these in the past and blogged about it here. They’re easy to make, washable, provide parents a clean place to lay their baby down and they roll up nicely for carrying in the diaper bag.
Next project, bibs. Most children start to resist wearing bibs when they become toddlers, at least my grandchildren did and we decided this was a battle we didn’t want to fight. If their friends had been wearing them or if they’d had their favorite superhero on them it would’ve been an easier “sell”. We have laundry facilities and enough detergent to wash dirty kids clothing here, although I don’t like to waste water as we’re having a drought here in CA. Sadly laundry facilities aren’t a reality for every family on the Rez and laundromats don’t exist. Hopefully parents will use bibs if provided which will lighten the laundry load.
I love cute kids bibs but since I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to the project or large pieces of kids prints, I could at least make them colorful using scraps. Below are a few of the bibs I made using a pattern from a store bought bib. As kids get older making an “art smock” type bib and using cartoon or other favorite characters is a good way to make them more appealing. And of course you can upcycle items you have like denim jeans , T shirts as here , here and here .
My next project was burp cloths, look at this page for some ideas. Using scraps from my stash I pieced the front together and added a backing of terry or flannel. Babies tend to spit up for about 6 months and instead of moms grabbing a blanket or piece of clothing, this offers another option. Check out this blog on burp cloths and bibs.
Receiving blankets were up next, great to use for those cool summer nights. Ideally babies under 12 months should only be using a cotton sleep sack over clothing to reduce the incidence of SIDS with the highest risk being in the first 6 months. But blankets are great to use when babies are being held or swaddled and are also serve as “security” blankets for many children. They should be at least 30 inches square using fleece, flannel, terry or other soft fabric, single thickness for warmer months and double for winter. I pieced the fronts of mine from scraps and added a flannel backing with some machine quilting to hold the layers together when washed. I find rounding the corners off to be easier sewing and like the appearance better. This is a quick project, cutting scraps into usable pieces takes the most time. I also used this pattern tutorial for a few of my receiving blankets. I’ve read new babies should have at least 6 receiving blankets in their layette as they’re constantly being soiled, doubt we’ll be making that quota for the Rez. Check out this blog on blankets.
I have plenty of terry cloth scraps left over from the 10 hooded towel sets I made a few months back and plan to make some washcloths just to use the scraps up. When I find a good sale on towels or locate some good used ones at the thrift shop my plan is to use “Steam A Seam” and do some appliques to dress them up a bit. New or gently used towels are always needed on the Rez, embellished or not, they just need to be in good condition if used. I also plan to knit some baby washcloths with Peaches and Cream cotton yarn, there are so many cute patterns on Ravelry for free and they take very little time and make cute gifts along with some hotel size soap. I made my son and his family some dishcloths from this yarn as a stocking stuffer 2 or 3 years ago and was surprised to find during my last visit they were still in good shape, although a little stained.
Baby sun hats is another project I made from my scrap bag, gosh you’d think I could see the bottom by now…. nope I can’t! Sunscreen can’t be used on young babies so hats are a great way to protect young skin from the damaging sun and help prevent skin cancer in later years.
For new mothers I made some nursing pads to protect clothing from those occasional leaks, as those of us who’ve breastfed a baby all know about. Here are a few more patterns you can choose from here and here. One of our volunteers, Beulah from WI, has sent lots of nursing pad sets with cases to the Rez and and the women love them. For mine I used 4 pieces of flannel per pad using this pattern. Generally I try to use a neutral color, at least on the outside of the pad but did not have any for this picture.They will still be used. Nurse Debbie has started a breastfeeding group to encourage women to breastfeed longer and to have a place where they can some together for mutual support and get their questions answered. Each mom on the Rez as in the rest of the USA gets a free electric nursing pump so that they can pump and leave the baby in the care of others while they attend school or go to a job. Also nutrition education is provided as a good milk supply depends on a good diet, not always easy but doable if they get WIC and food stamps or commodities and some recipes. WIC tries to educate clients at their monthly visits.
The last project I’ve been working on are quilts. I love to piece and really like the modern quilts that are all over the web, but I used what I had in my stash. I like to bind my quilts instead of doing the sew and turn method as for me it’s a relaxing process. Quilts can be backed with cotton, flannel or fleece in all sizes. These pictures show some completed quilts and others that need binding or assembling. To make a fast quilt try sandwiching together backing, batting and top, stitch around edge leaving an opening for turning, turn right side out, top stitch 1/4 inch from edge and tie every few inches or machine tack. Here’s a demo for the “quilt as you go” method. Making quilts is a great way to recycle old clothing such as jeans, corduroy pants, stained clothing, men’s shirts, etc. Here are some free quilt patterns to get you started.
All the projects I made are easily dried in the SD sun as none of them are very heavy and most are sized to be easily washed by hand with some soap in the bathtub, sink or pan. Will be adding a few baby spoons, cups and plates to my box for the baby project.
Let us know what you’re working on and send pictures if you have any. Will be discussing a few more items in the next blog featuring projects you can work on in your leisure time such as training pants, cloth diapers and underwear! Clothing and other items we send are given out to mom’s at the daycare center, at WIC when they pick up the monthly food supply and by nurse Debbie at her immunization clinics, home visits and in the breastfeeding group.
Please send all donations here. Thanks from Sew For Kids.
It’s June already and time to start work on our next project. Every few months we like to build up the stock of baby and toddler items for nurse Debbie, the daycare center, WIC and of course for those parents who call or come knocking on the High Horse door.
Babies are born larger on the Rez so newborn clothes are quite often too small for them, aim for the 3-24 month size range. Many of you find bargain prices on baby clothes at garage sales and resale shops and don’t bother to sew clothing for this age as it’s not really worth the time and trouble. Good baby clothing is usually plentiful at sales and many times there’s lots of items that were never worn as babies grow quickly and are on to the next size before you know it. At these ages kids aren’t mobile so clothing stays in better condition. I’m amazed at the high price of new baby/toddler clothing and the inferior quality, sometimes it’s more than I pay for some of my clothing.
The clothing the daycare receives allows them to have clothes on hand for children that come to the center dirty – due to a lack of soap and water, adequate clothing or education at home. The daycare will wash children’s clothes (if they have detergent) and bathe them and at pickup time toss a few extra outfits in a bag for the child to take home. WIC and nurse Debbie give moms clothing and other items sometimes as an incentive gift for coming to a follow up appointment or to teach a new skill using the item or just to give mothers what they need to take proper care of their new baby. Theresa and Jerome help anyone who comes to their door or calls with a need and will go shopping for them if the shelves are empty. We want to stock their shelves so their money can be saved for other essentials such as gas for their car so they can deliver needs to people in outlying areas or go pick up food or other supplies in Rapid City.
We need clothes for all seasons, weather is extreme on the Rez with winters being very cold and windy and summers hot and dry. Remember Jerome has a storage container now so feel free to send clothing for next fall and winter too.
- Coats, sweaters, jackets, buntings, snowsuits
- Winter hats and mitts
- sun hats
- Shorts and T shirts
- Sleepers, gowns, onesies
- Sun hats or baseball type caps
- Sleep sack – light cotton for summer/fleece, double flannel for winter
- Pants and long sleeve shirts (fleece is especially warm)
- Socks and slippers
- Shoes and boots for toddlers
- Training pants
Baby accessories are needed too, many of the items below can be made from fabric you already have in your stash or by recycling or upcycling.
- Changing pad
- Diaper bag
- Blanket/afghan/quilt 36×48
- Receiving blankets, 30- 36″ square or larger. Go larger if you have the fabric.
- Burp cloths
- Bibs – newborn or small
- Towel/hooded towel
- Washcloths, baby/toddler size
- Scratch mitts
- Diaper wipes – homemade from flannel, terry cloth, cotton knit or purchased disposable
- Nursing pads made from flannel and stored in a small clutch
- Slings, moby wraps, etc.
- Cloth diapers
These items are always needed and have to be purchased.
- Baby Wash
- Teething rings
- Baby bottles (BPA free) and bottle brush
- New nipples for bottles, newborns and older
- Sippy cups
- Plastic dishes and cutlery
- Cloth or board baby books
- Cuddle toys or learning toys (could be handmade, no eyes, strings, buttons or other choking hazards)
- Disposable diapers size 2 and up, larger sizes 3 and up rarely come in on the trucks
We would like to start making cloth diapers and covers so parents have something to use toward the end of the month until their new SNAP card arrives. Many times Jerome and Theresa don’t have the extra money to purchase disposable diapers and it could be 2 months or more before the NAHA trucks bring more. Cloth prefold diapers can be made from recycled T shirts, flannel and fleece using a pattern such as this one and the covers from fleece, wool or PUL. Diapers and covers can be made as a single item and use inserts to absorb the wet. Here is a good site to find diaper and covers to make, to get you started thinking about making them but there are also many more good sites. And here is a video of how to make the flannel diaper on that site. The diaper inserts or the diapers themselves don’t need to be thick as one can use more than one diaper or insert, allowing them to be easily line dried. Training pants are basically underwear with some padding at the front or back and these are also easily made for toddlers. I need to devote a blog to this topic as we would like to show moms ways to save money and the environment. It just takes a little effort on their part but certainly is doable. I am no expert on this subject as much has changed since I raised my kids so we are open to suggestions and patterns etc.
I will soon share some items I’ve been working on for the baby project, don’t forget to share your ideas, patterns or photos of finished projects with us. We like to see all your projects, and especially love to see how you put to use scraps of materials you have on hand to make or add to a project or upcycle items.. Making baby items is a great way to use up those items.
Items made can be sent here. Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.
Its that time of month when we update you on the latest news in Wanblee. We hope those of you participating in the Summer Clothing Project have had fun these past couple of months making or purchasing items for the kids. We would love to see what you’ve been working on. I know that dresses, shorts, tops , underwear, tennis shoes, flip flicks , socks , sunhats are several of the items that have been sent or are on their way to the Rez, thanks to our great group of supporters. Jerome said the weather has been in the 90’s lately so the kids will have something cool to wear. Weather is unpredictable on the Rez, folks needed their coats over the Memorial Day weekend and a tornado touched down in the Black Hills area.
There are many projects planned for the Rez this summer with some already in motion. The gardens have been planted with cold tolerant plants and the radishes and onions are growing nicely. Seeds that came in from donors and NAHA were distributed to families wanting to have their own garden patch. Some of the seeds were planted in the community garden next to Jerome’s garden and there’s also an experimental pallet garden this year since they have so many pallets to recycle. They’re thinking this type of garden might be easily managed by elders or children .
Jerome has a wall of over 400 pallets so they’re using this free source of lumber (most of it’s oak!) to build many projects this summer. They’re currently putting the finishing touches on the chicken coop and have plans to build a dog house, birdhouses, and picnic tables. It takes a lot of time and labor to recycle the pallets but will keep the young men busy this summer with plans to sell some of their finished projects. Jerome said there are some families in need of an outhouse (he and Theresa built 15 last year) so they’re planning to use the pallets as there’s no money at present to purchase lumber. If you’re interested in seeing what else you can do with pallets check out this site on Pinterest. Pictures below are from Robin Lober’s high school class who dismantled the pallets and built a chicken coop. Thanks Robin ( Hearts of the Sacred Spirit ) for sharing the photos.
You can find a picture of the nearly finished structure here . Jerome needs to add some nesting boxes to them and then purchase the feed and water containers. A local rancher has offered him some chickens and a rooster to get him started. Jerome can always use advice on raising chickens as a lot has changed since he was a boy so if you have suggestions post them on the site and will pass them along to him.
Jerome and Theresa headed to Wisconsin Memorial Day weekend, trailer in tow, to speak to members of a church about helping fund some rehab housing projects in the Wanblee area and to pick up some furniture. They needed ten beds for families some who had to destroy theirs due to bedbugs and were able to pick up five of those, some were new, some used. Homes will be thoroughly sprayed before the new beds are installed. Stacey Lecas, a SFK supporter who lives in Wisconsin and is herself Native American, worked tirelessly to gather donations to send back with Jerome, she did such a wonderful job that they couldn’t fit everything on the trailer. They are planning a trip to the Rez next month to deliver the rest and any other donations they can gather so if you live in the Wisconsin area and have anything to send, contact Stacey here. Great job Stacey!! The folks will also need new bedding (sheet sets, blankets and pillows)to go along with those beds so send Jerome’s way if you have any. Donations never last long on the Rez, there’s always a family in need with most of those needs never being filled. Once Jerome arrived back in Wanblee he had one of those families in need, they were sleeping on the floor on blankets so he took the beds to them and also gave them the sofa and rocking chair he’d picked up, they had no other furniture in the house other than two straight back chairs.
Some of those pillowcases we made a few months back recently found a new home with some school children heading off for a weekend trip. Myself and some other donors recently sent some new pillows so they each received a new pillow clad in a colorful new pillowcase for their trip. The kids loved the different designs and the fact that no one else had one like theirs. We may want to do this project again sometime as it was a huge hit!
Jerome is working on the inside of the storage trailer – putting in insulation and installing electric, he’ll also add skirting to help keep it warmer in winter. The materials to do the job are stored in the trailer along with some shower stalls, sinks and toilets, donated from a contractor in ND. They will be installed in homes when the rehab projects begin this summer. There’s still plenty of room to store things in plastic containers as the trailer is 14 feet wide by 70 feet long so keep sending your donations. I plan to send a donation to purchase more containers, Jerome can get them for about $5 each.
Other needs are a push mower and gas powered weedeater as Jerome’s are on their last leg. They need them to keep the grass and weeds cut around the homes (and outhouses) of elders and the disabled so snakes can be easily seen and not stepped on, rattlers are common on the Rez. Used machines in good condition are acceptable as would be nice to have a few of each so can do it quickly. Great items to put on a truck if its going to the Rez. Also we are under a 501c3 ( Hearts of the Sacred Spirit) so can get a charitable tax donation if one is needed.
Jerome and Theresa attended an ambulance appreciation ceremony for her mother, Eleanor Charging Crow. She and her late husband started the first ambulance service on the Rez in 1966 using a station wagon to pick up patients and take them to the hospital. Eleanor still works there at the age of 83, not driving patients but helping with laundry and other jobs.
Theresa says the local daycare can care for 3 babies and 7 toddlers as well as several school age children and have very few toys to play with. Now would be a good time to pick up some toys for them with all the garage sales going on in your local towns. Also a good time to go through your closets and kids toy boxes to see if you have anything they’ve outgrown or don’t play with. Some suggestions:
Blocks, larger lego-type so they can’t fit in small mouths
Plastic trucks, cars, trains, etc.
Farm animals, larger
Balls – nerf balls are softer and safer
Puzzles, large pieces for toddlers, 100 piece for older children
Sand box toys; plastic buckets, shovels, etc.
Craft items; crayons, markers, construction paper, glue sticks, safety scissors, etc.
They have plenty of books for now and don’t want any stuffed animals as they need to be washed regularly and they don’t always have laundry soap. When they are lucky enough to have soap it’s used for the essentials, many times employees will take out of their own pockets to provide it. Theresa gives them soap off the NAHA truck if they receive any. I think the book issue is due to space issues. If they get to many then they send them home with kids. Would love to see something like this around the area, even outside the daycare, Head Start etc. Stuffed animals and books can still be sent to give to WIC and to the nurse so please send if you have them, but mention whom you intended them for. Most people going to the daycare are using WIC.
The school year is coming to a close so graduation ceremonies will be held for those in grades 8 and 12. Sadly only about 25-30 percent of children will finish high school with many not even experiencing an 8th grade ceremony. Recent article addressing some of the reasons here.
Jerome and his men are still cutting wood, local ranchers want their creek beds cleared so cattle can get to the water. They want to take advantage of the good weather as it’s much easier to cut wood in the summer months and many of the men don’t have the appropriate clothing or shoes to work in the brutal winter weather. The young men are helping him with this project.
Movies are being held when the weather permits and many thanks to those who sent the popcorn and other supplies, it simulates the movie theater atmosphere for the kids.
Theresa’s women and girls are sewing and they’re in need of fabric, scraps are welcome too as their first project is a basic quilt. Sewing notions are needed too so if you’re sending fabric please add some thread, needles, etc. to your box. Maybe some of those picnic tables they’re making this summer could be used for a “sewing bee” placed close to the trailer so they could use that electric source and not have to pay the $50 fee for renting the Kennedy Center, at least while the weather is warm. Sewing machines and projects could be stored in the truck ready for the next meeting. We’re crossing our fingers and hoping the sewing project takes off and is successful, it would be a great skill to learn and also a good project to keep kids busy.
May 31st will finalize our summer clothing project for the kids and we appreciate all of those that participated. Please continue to send your summer things through the first couple weeks of June. June’s project will be sewing for babies up to 24 months, more information on that project in the next blog.
We also want to thank Jane J and her husband Larry for sending work boots for the men, so badly needed and they were thrilled to get them. Work boots are expensive and out of reach for most men on the Rez. The wood cutters always need them, Jerome says they come to work wearing tennis shoes! Jane works for General Mills and was able to get spices from her employer for the Rez and she also sent laundry soap, toiletries, garden seeds, winter accessories, tennis shoes, etc. along in her boxes. She also organized a school class to make tied fleece blankets for the kids on the Rez as their class learned about Native Americans. They hope to do this again next year and hope other classrooms will join with them. Jane already has a head start on our baby project – making flannel receiving blankets. Thanks so much Jane for organizing this learning project and getting the word out about needs on the Rez and thanks to your employer General Mills for their generous donation.
Please send your donations here.
We would love you to post photos of items you send on our flickr site on this page so all can see the great work the group does. I have to fix a few things on the site but will let you know when you can post. You can also post photos on our Sew For Kids Facebook page , and if you are a member ,on the Sew For Lakota Kids yahoo site and the Sew For Kids Ravelry group. As always,thanks from Sew For Kids.
Sorry for the delay in getting this blog out but my husband’s younger sister passed away last week after a long illness, we’re so thankful she’s at peace now. Just as one door closes another opens as was true in our family this week with the birth of a new granddaughter. Having two grandsons already, both dear to our hearts, we were all happy to welcome a granddaughter.
May is the month we’re sewing or purchasing summer clothing for boys, hopefully you’ve been working ahead and not waiting for my post. Boys definitely need a few changes of summer clothes, at least my grandsons do, as they’re pretty rough on their clothes and seem to gravitate toward dirt, maybe more so than girls. I’ve lost count of the pants I’ve repaired this year with holes in the knees, trying to get out grass and mud stains is another weekly chore for their mother and me with some remaining as a testament of their escapades. We wouldn’t want it any other way and neither do parents on the Rez, we all want our kids out playing in the fresh air, getting exercise and exploring, however parents on the Rez don’t have a lot of extra clothing nor do they have access to laundry facilities and detergent. Having extra clothing for their kids means less wear and tear on each garment which means they won’t be worn out when they’re handed down to the next child and they have enough clothing to last until they can get resources together to make a trip to the laundromat.
The boys need shorts and shirts/T-shirts (darker colors hide dirt) and the younger ones love cartoon characters, superheroes and sports themes as seen here. If you don’t have any kids prints add a contrasting pocket in primary colors to a pair of shorts or add an applique of a basketball, dinosaur or other boy friendly subject to a T-shirt you make or purchase to give it a little pizzazz. Younger boys don’t need a fly on their shorts, even the older ones don’t but if you want to add a false fly you can find the how-to here. Many of the shorts patterns I purchased didn’t have a fly front.
We have lots of free patterns on the board “Sewing for Boys” at our Pinterest site and I have some on my board “Boys Clothing Sewing Projects”. Commercial patterns can be had at JoAnn’s for 99 cents or check the thrift stores or yard sales to get them even cheaper. A pattern can also be made from a ready made pair of shorts, instructions here or refashion a pair of shorts from a T-shirt as shown here. T-shirts can be made but sometimes knits are hard to find so why not check the sale racks, garage sales and thrift shops for some gently used ones, just remember to stick to the guidelines for used clothing found here. If you are lucky enough to have some knit fabric here and here are a few free patterns for shirts or again just trace around a shirt you already have and add seam allowances. I have some knits in my stash so will be making some T-shirts, may have to color block a few but that only adds interest to the garment.
Another needed item for the hot summers on the Rez is a hat. The sun is very intense there and the use of sunscreen is rare, mainly because it’s considered a luxury item to families that don’t have a lot of money for the non-essentials. Kids love to be outside so we want to protect them while they play, any sunburns acquired during their younger years predisposes them to skin cancer when they’re older. Below are a few hat patterns to try.
Free hat patterns at Love to Know
Making a baby hat video
Scrappy sun hat tutorial
Sun hat with brim tutorial
Reversible bucket hat tutorial
Reversible hat tutorial
Sun hat with brim – tutorial
April Cobb sunhat tutorial
And finally if you happen to find flip flops or other summer shoes for the kids they would be greatly appreciated. The ones they wore for school either no longer fit or have been worn down to a frazzle. Many kids go barefoot but foot infections from stepping on broken glass, nails, etc. and burns from walking on hot pavement are always a risk not to mention being downright uncomfortable. Gently used shoes are welcome too!
Summer vacation is right around the corner and the High Horse’s will soon be seeing kids running around in their torn, stained and ill fitting summer clothing. So please all you sewers and shoppers, join us this month and help provide some new clothing for these deserving kids. Can’t you just see the smile on their faces when Jerome and Theresa hand them a new outfit or pair of shoes?? Some of the children will be attending daycare where the workers will give clothing to families that need help. Don’t forget to share your favorite patterns and photos of your finished projects. Happy sewing!
Items made can be sent here to the High Horses. Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.