November is Native American Heritage month, you can read more about why it was established here and here are some ways you can celebrate the month. October proved to be a very busy month on the Rez. Bernadette’s home is now officially finished and she’s all moved in, before and after pictures are below. Bob, Jerome’s old construction friend, brought men from his company to the Rez and paid them to finish up all the things that were not completed by the group who started the project due to time constraints. Needless to say, Bernadette is ecstatic and wants to thank all of you that sent things for her new home. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit provided her a new wood stove and refrigerator. Bob and his wife Mary have formed a new 501c3 and plan to fundraise to help build a community building and to rehab local homes in need of repair. Jerome has come up with some plans for the building that would encompass the needs of the community. I’m sure it will need tweaking but it’s a start and at this stage only a dream. A community center is needed as the Kennedy Hall is often not available for events and activities and is also expensive to rent – $50 each time it’s used and then there’s the tribal politics one must deal with.
Wanblee has been working on creating a volunteer fire department, desperately needed as presently homes that have a fire usually burn to the ground. Fires are a real danger in homes without electricity using candles for light and burning wood in stoves improperly installed or in poor condition. The men found an old “fire truck”that they rehabbed and then asked around to see if anyone could help with equipment. Jerome asked an old friend, a former coach of the NY Mets, if he knew anyone who could help them. He did and two firemen from Virginia came to the Rez with equipment for the new department. They were welcomed with a special dinner and were given a star quilt which the men are taking back to display in their station. Jerome took the men for a tour of the Rez and to Bear Butte and hosted them for the week. There might be another truck for the force if all goes as planned. Jerome hopes more firemen will come visit the Rez and help educate and train the Wanblee firefighters.
The sewing circle ladies have met a few times but hope to meet more often during the long winter days ahead. They can’t meet as often as they’d like, sometimes it’s difficult to come up with the $50 fee needed to rent the building. Theresa allows women that need a sewing machine to take one home to use with the understanding it must be brought back when the group meets. She felt it didn’t make sense to have machines sitting idle when women could be busy making quilts or other items for their families at home. Some women are working on quilts, others on ribbon shirts, Theresa has made some pillows. One lady made her first blouse, although it did need quite a bit of help from the more seasoned sewers, still it was a great first attempt at a sewing project. Another sewing machine has been donated by Karen Johnson, a friend of our great supporter and talented sewer, Kerry Robertson, who told her about us. Kerry also was involved with helping with the purchase. Thank you ladies ! Batting, fabric and thread are an ongoing need for the group so if you have any extra add it to your next box going to the Rez. Jerome and Theresa have held some “fitting” days for the kids so they can come and try on the clothes we send so they get a good fit and pick out their favorite colors and styles too. These are held in their home and they make it a little extra special by serving donuts and hot chocolate or cider. Events such as this couldn’t happen without the generosity of all of you. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall and see them leaving in their new clothes?
The Woodchucks are very busy cutting wood and delivering it to those in need. Funding from LIHEAP (low energy heating assistance program) has been delayed so those who have wood stoves are using them to heat their homes until funds come in for propane. Each family needing heating assistance must apply and it’s on a first come first served basis. They receive about $250-$300 per year which helps a little but so much more is needed as winters are long and cold and homes are poorly insulated. Thankfully our SFK volunteers have been sending lots of warm coats, clothing and blankets to the kids and their families. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, our “mother organization” is currently fundraising for propane, utility hook ups and the wood program which includes purchasing woodstoves. If you can, please consider a donation to help families stay warm this winter. Jerome has already put in two requests for propane for elders and we can assure you it won’t be the last.
Another project that might be receiving funds are community college scholarships, more news on that when we receive it. There’s also an organization that might be donating funds for two vocational scholarships, $1500 per semester for a total of four semesters. There are some students in the community who want to learn automotive, electrical and plumbing skills. I was telling Jerome and Theresa it would be great if they had a place where students could work on homework after school. With so many of the students living in overcrowded homes it must be difficult to find a quiet place to study. Jerome said there was an after school program available at the school and college students volunteer to come and help those who need it.
Halloween came and went, I didn’t dress up for the day but the kids and the families we help on the Rez sure did and they attended a party held for them on October 25th. Preparations took 3 days to complete which included decorating the Kennedy Hall, preparing the chili and fry bread and making all the booths for the carnival. There were about 15 game booths with the Woodchucks building five of them from recycled wood and other materials using the construction skills they learned from Jerome. Over 300 kids attended, mainly from Wanblee but also from across the Rez and from Rosebud Reservation. Kids dressed up in their costumes and made a procession through town so those who didn’t attend the party could join in the celebration and feel included.
The tribal president made an appearance, not just for the celebration but also to put a plug in for his campaign. Tribal council members from Rosebud who attended wanted to know how they could set up a similar event for their kids. This party as well as all the community events are possible because of many dedicated volunteers all working together. Each event they hold brings in new volunteers to help with the work load. There’s a strong community spirit brewing in Wanblee as people realize it takes the entire community, not just Jerome and Theresa, working for the common good to bring about positive changes.
Before any party begins it’s customary to say a blessing for all the people who helped make the day possible and to put up a list of donors – we’re known as Friends of the Lakota. NAHA was a big supporter of the event as they brought down several costumes for the kids and lots of Halloween decorations as you see in the photos and some stuff for prizes. The decorations are stored in the truck for next year but the kids took their costumes home. They were told to keep them in a safe place so they could bring them to the party next year and exchange for a different one. Theresa’s sister helped make cakes for the cake walk and many others helped Theresa make the chili (they used 30 lbs. of ground beef!) and fry bread. Many SFK volunteers sent in Halloween candy and trinkets that were used for the fish pond, etc. but anyone that has sent anything to the High Horse’s the past few months helped too as some of those things were given out as prizes too – such as the coats used for ring toss prizes. A Sew For Kids Volunteer provided the food for the main meal- pumpkin pies, chili ingredients and flour for the fry bread. Theresa has promised to share her bread recipe with us. The meat had to be purchased locally at a higher cost because Jerome and Theresa don’t have a freezer large enough to hold that much food.
When the storage truck gets wired for electric we may want to do a drive to raise funds for a freezer. It would be nice to have a place to keep food for parties but the main reason is for storing food to be given out to hungry families. They want to have a small pantry in the truck so they have food available when they receive calls or have people come knocking on their door for help. A freezer would allow them to take advantage of grocery sales and stock up at lower prices. Wanblee is in an isolated area many miles from the nearest grocery store so having food available in the truck would save time and money spent driving around looking for food. Kids often stop by after school looking for something to eat as they know there will be nothing to eat at home. Theresa and Jerome also feed the Woodchucks and many of the people who come to volunteer. The hope is that one of the two newly formed 501c3′s can get the High Horse’s into the food bank in Rapid City where food can be purchased for 18 cents a pound. Of course that means donations would have to be made monthly to that organization so funds would be available.
The next event for Wanblee is the Thanksgiving and Sobriety dinner scheduled for November 22nd with 300 people expected to attend. The addiction organizations on the Rez will pay for a live band and encourage those who are dealing with a drug or alcohol problem to seek help. The High Horses have asked for help with food from the organizations that help the area. They need pie filling, cranberries, instant potatoes, canned sweet potatoes/yams, cake mixes, drink mixes, tea, stuffing. If you would like to help and plan on sending a box to the Rez before the dinner just toss in something from the list. Also needed are sponsors to help purchase the following: 6 Turkeys $20-22 each, 6 Hams $12-14 each, and 3 cases of pies (12 per case) $28 each. Donations can be made through Lakota Friends Circle which are tax deductible. If you can help let us know here. NAHA does not usually bring food on their trucks and Running Strong tends to help with Christmas dinners for families in need so the High Horses are not expecting help from those groups. Here is the address for Lakota Friends Circle.
Lakota Friends Circle
c/o Anne Fields
2415 Amberbrook Lane
Grayson GA 30017
Once again Jerome and Theresa weren’t intending to have a party but the community asked them to please have one if at all possible. Sew For Kids will only commit our volunteers to officially help with the Easter and Christmas parties and let larger groups help with other events. We’re a small sewing group comprised of people of all ages but a good majority of our members are seniors living on fixed incomes or parents raising children. We don’t want to burn out our generous volunteers with constant requests for help. Some of you can and may want to do more, that’s why we’re listing the requests, we don’t expect you to donate to every need. Take care of your family first and give when you can. There may be another group joining us for next year’s Christmas celebration, the more the merrier and it lessens the burden when we all share the load.
Many of Santa’s SFK elves are busy in their workshops making things for Christmas. Our Facebook group, Sew For Kids Volunteers , Ravelry group and our Yahoo Sew For Lakota Kids group are busy making dresses, PJ’s, pillowcases (some with new pillows), quilts, craft kits, baby clothes, hats, mittens/gloves, scarves, slippers, teddy bears, dolls and softies. Some are sending games, puzzles and books too. I went to a garage sale this past weekend and got some great gifts for kids aged 3-6. I want to put a request in for some balls for the kids as they love to play soccer, basketball , football and baseball. Young children just like to throw balls which helps with developing coordination skills and girls love to skip rope. Exercise is so important for kids on the Rez, diabetes is rampant and diets not very healthy.
One of our volunteers, Cheryl Torres sent the High Horses a doll house donated by her granddaughters and she purchased the dolls to go with it. A little girl named Sophia received the doll house and was delighted to receive her Christmas gift early. In the picture she is wearing a Dress A Girl Around the World Dress , from one of our many volunteers. Toys aren’t cheap to buy so we need to find ways to make used toys seem new, presentation is key. If you find good deals and can afford it send new. For those of you reading our blog for the first time, check out this past blog to see what’s needed for the Christmas party on December 13th. Gifts for the party should be sent here after Thanksgiving but by the beginning of the first week of December. The High Horses said toys can be wrapped if you choose but should be labeled girl/boy with an age range. Clothing items should be left unwrapped as kids come in all sizes. Well that’s all the news for now, the next blog will go into more detail about the Christmas party. In the meantime Santa’s confident his elves will get their work done for the kids of Wanblee. Thanks from Sew For Kids for all you do throughout the year, not just at the holiday season. We have the best volunteers!!
Time to put a plug in for a few other things on the Christmas list, especially for those who either aren’t crafty or don’t have a lot of time to craft. Many of our dedicated volunteers are busy making quilts, craft bags, dolls, stuffed animals, warm hats and scarves and clothing. Winter is long and cold on the Rez and it isn’t always easy to get outside to play, especially if you don’t have a coat and warm clothing to wear. We’re hoping that will change this year with all the coats and warm things that have been shipped to the Rez these past few weeks. Kids need to have something to do while cooped up indoors and we want to keep those young minds active and learning and of course having fun too.
Some Rez families have a TV, often purchased at a garage sale on their travels off the Rez, but reception in many areas is poor or nonexistent. If they can afford $35 for a DVD player, they can watch movies but sometimes the choices aren’t appropriate for younger kids. Most people need to save all the money they have to heat their homes and feed their families so a TV or DVD player is a luxury item usually found in homes where a family members(s) has been lucky enough to find a job. This is one of the reasons Jerome and Theresa sponsor movie nights for the kids when they can afford the $50 fee to rent the Kennedy Hall. There are no movie theaters on the Rez and even if there were people couldn’t afford the admission price. If you have any DVD’s or VHS movies you no longer need, please think of sending them to Jerome for movie night or for families that are lucky enough to own a TV and DVD player.
We all love to watch TV but we want to limit the amount of time kids spend in front of one as it is passive learning and we want kids learning actively. These days kids are exposed to too much violence, inappropriate sexual content and commercials on TV that contributes nothing to healthy mental development and simply gives children the wrong message. That’s why we’re asking for donations of books, puzzles, crafts, games and sports equipment so kids can pass their time in a more healthy, constructive way.
Many Rez kids are at least 2 years behind the national standard in part because they don’t have books. With school funding cuts across the nation items like books aren’t readily available in some schools and classrooms. For some Rez classes only the teacher has a book and copies of workbook activities have to be made or they make use of the blackboard. Recent studies from the American Academy of Pediatrics says kids should be reading at a very early age, not likely to happen without books. Kids who aren’t exposed to books don’t have the vocabulary of kids that are and most never catch up.
Books are great to have so kids can interact with their parents in a positive way. Remember the warm, cozy feeling you got after being read a favorite story by your parents before drifting off to sleep or how about reading that really good book with a flashlight under the covers after “lights out” was called? My grandkids love to be read to while eating a snack or if they’re tired and need some cuddling. Books expose kids to people, places, ideas, concepts, morals and things they would never see or hear about unless they read it in a book. Kids without books are at a real disadvantage when competing with kids that have them. This Pinterest site tells us What Books Teach Us. Books just for the story content are great, but also consider sending books on topics that interested you as a child or teenager. Kids love to look at books with maps, stars and planets, animals, sea creatures, insects, music/composers, and even how-to or DIY books and let’s not forget how much fun the I-spy books are. Make an I spy book for the younger child from your fabric scraps. Don’t forget about a felt interactive book for a toddler. They would love them. You can also find panels of material to make books, many times on sale.
For the younger set books that teach concepts like letters, words, numbers, and shapes are good and stuffed animals or puppets accompanying a story book makes an interactive gift, kids can retell the story in their own words. For older kids a pencil and tablet of paper can be attached to the book so they can write their own story, thoughts, etc. Sending books to WIC and the daycare center is a project we might want to help with in the future. Education is the key to getting them out of poverty.
Puzzles, like books, have great teaching attributes as well. Remember as kids working together on a jigsaw puzzle? Young kids love to master puzzles by doing it over and over again and many teach concepts needed to get them ready for kindergarten. Puzzles, like books, allow kids to see things they may never see in real life such as the solar system or a map of Africa, etc. Kids brains are programmed to learn so the more they’re exposed to new concepts, etc the more neural connections they make which continues to increase the more they expand their knowledge base. Consider making or buying a bag to keep all those puzzles pieces together and for easy transporting to school or grandma’s house.
Games are another “game changer”, they can be played alone or with friends and family members and can offer hours of entertainment. Video games seem to have replaced the old board games with a lot of kids, but most kids on the Rez don’t have them and they require batteries and/or electricity so not something we want to send. These articles show games have a lot to offer starting at a young age and as we get older. Many of the classic games we played as kids have stood the test of time and are still popular today; Scrabble, Monopoly, Clue, Life, Chutes and Ladders, Candy land, etc. for board games and the always popular bingo, checkers, tic-tac-toe, memory games, charades, etc. And dont’t forget about a pack of cards and a card game book. Tell us about your favorite game and where we can find it on sale. Pinterest has lots of games to make if you google games and Pinterest.
Any of the requested gifts can be sent but please consider sending a book, game or puzzle too. Not only do they help kids develop life skills but they also help promote family and other social relationships so important for survival in today’s world. If you’re crafty some of the games can be made like I-Spy, tic-tac-toe, checkers, charades, and memory games. Quilts are used for warmth but can also teach skills to kids by what’s on the front - a map, tic tac toe, numbers, colors, letters, checker pattern, etc.
Please send your items here after Thanksgiving day and by the end of the first week of December so the party planners on the Rez have time to get the gifts ready for the Christmas party on December 13, 2014.
A big thanks from SFK to all our generous volunteers for helping make this holiday season special for the Rez kids.
Our last blog listed many gift ideas, one of them being craft bags. One of our goals for the kids is to send things that are fun but also encourage learning and skill building. Reading, playing games, putting together puzzles, playing ball and crafting are just a few of the ways kids learn and have fun too. Making a craft bag is an excellent gift idea for non-crafters, kids or for those short on time. Theresa told me about a girl who was given beads from some of the Youthworks teens this summer and immediately started making necklaces and bracelets. These weren’t the same beads Native Americans use to make their beautifully beaded crafts, but still this girl was inspired to start creating something from these simple beads and even wished for more so she could make gifts for her family and friends.
Craft bags don’t have to be expensive but they do need the basic craft materials along with instructions which can be handwritten or typed, and a bag or plastic container to hold everything. Probably the most important requirements are listing the recommended age on your kit and making sure everything is non toxic, especially glue and paint. Beads and other small items are not recommended for children under 3. If in doubt look at the age limits printed on the item you’re including in your bag. Also think about visiting the craft section of your library if you need some templates for some of the projects.
There are plenty of ideas on the web, this St. Jude’s Pinterest page and this list from a hospital are two good ones, more good ones are here, here , and here . These are just suggestions, we don’t expect you to include every idea in your kit, use what you have on hand or what you can afford, tailor it to your budget and time. These kids don’t have any craft supplies so they will be thrilled with whatever you make. If you have kids or grandkids ask their opinions of your ideas or better yet let them help with the project. For the under 3 crowd there are plenty of Busy Bag sites you can use for ideas and you can include a book that teaches a skill.
- Play dough bag – attach the recipe but add 3- 4 containers of playdough, a roller, cookie cutters, plastic knife, etc. Laminate a piece of paper with contact paper or use a piece of an old vinyl shower curtain. Or if you like you can find free playdough mats on google.
- Clay bag – add air dry clay and then some washable markers to paint the item when dry and a mat to work on
- Stencil bag - Include stencils (can make your own), a package of washable markers or paints /brush and paper. Might give some masking tape to hold the corners of the paper still. Add a T-shirt and fabric crayons for more fun .
- Lacing/sewing kit for toddlers – Cut out cardboard shapes, color, laminate with clear contact paper, punch holes and add shoe laces to “sew” with. Look at the possibilities.
- tin foil art – some aluminum foil and let a child sculpt animals or whatever.
- Origami -a simple book on origami and supplies.
- Fingerprint art -A non toxic stamper, paper, colored pencils or crayons and a book on using fingers to make designs.
- Handprint art – non toxic paint in a few colors, paper and a book with ideas.
- Leaf art- leaf art book, glue and paper.
- Rock painting - throw in a few rocks, non toxic markers or paint and some designs to try.
- Jewelry kits – Embroidery floss, jute, elastic cord, etc. and beads, buttons and instructions.
- Sewing kit - to make a doll, sock animal, puppet. Include thread, scissors, stuffing, fabric, pattern and directions or get a pre-printed panel at the fabric store.
- Paper doll kit - Cut out paper dolls. Provide fabric to make clothing for the doll Can use velcro to stick on the outfits. Sometimes you can find a girl or boy doll in a coloring book to use
- Card making - Card stock, colored pencils and markers, stickers, etc. and instructions.
- Knitting or Crochet bag – WW or bulky yarn, needles or hook to match and “How To” book or instructions.
- Loom bag- small plastic loom, hook, yarn, directions to to make a hat, etc. Loads of idea for loom items.
- Embroidery kit - Project to embroider, embroidery thread and needles, small hoop and directions on stitches to use.
- Stamp kits - non toxic ink pads, stamps; numbers, letters, animals, etc. and paper pad.
- Drawing kit – 2B pencils, eraser, sharpener, colored pencils an “How To” drawing book. For smaller kids can make your own sketchbook.
- Sandpaper art – Cut out numbers, letters and have child color over them on paper. Include crayons, paper and scissors to cut them out. Or use on a T shirt. Lots of ideas on Pinterest.
- Drawing board – erasable whiteboard, erasable crayons, eraser or cloth.
- Chalk blackboard – Include chalk and cloth for erasing or small eraser.
- Duct tape crafts - Give a few fun duct tape rolls and some activities.
- Leather kit- piece of leather cut for a wallet, needles, lacing and directions.
- Coloring pages kit- Crayons, pencils and pages or activity/coloring books. Make a pencil or crayon roll for the set.
- Premade hand puppets to decorate - Base on a story book you include and supplies. Can cut off the fingers of a glove to make puppet kits.
- Finger paint kit – finger paints, freezer paper, and a small bib type apron.
- Create a story book – plain and lined paper, pencils, crayons, binder, story ideas. You can also find stories for younger kids to sequence and color. Older kids can use this type of sequencing
- Create a personal journal/diary – Include stickers, etc. for decorating and special pen. Make a holder for the diary and supplies
- Knot kit – cording and a book on making knots and their uses
- Popsicle stick art projects
- Recycled items crafts Lots of fun ideas to make
On another note, our Sew For Kids Facebook site is no longer just a page on my personal facebook page, we now have a group page “Sew For Kids Volunteers.” This is a page for crafters as well as non-crafters that prefer to donate purchased items. We would love to have you join us and welcome anyone that wants to help the children of Pine Ridge. We still have the Yahoo group for those who are not Facebook users and the Ravelry group for our knitters and crocheters. Information will be posted on all sites.
If you have ideas for craft kits/bags please share with us. We would love to put together a list of bags to make for other holidays, party favors, etc. Remember the Christmas clock is ticking. Donations should be sent to the High Horses by the end of the first week of December. Thanks from Sew For Kids.
Sorry for the delay in posting the new blog but since many are still working on last month’s project we didn’t want to overload our precious volunteers. Another delay, was waiting to receive the date and needs for the Christmas party from Jerome but since he’s busy finishing (supervising is more like it) Bernadette’s house with his construction buddies we’ll have to wait a little longer. We received the Christmas gift list for the children last month and it turns out we’ve already been working on some of the requested items. The Christmas project will extend into November and will include all the warm hats, mittens, scarves, etc. everyone has been working on. The clock is ticking so we are sharing what information we have.
Please don’t send any electronics or toys that require batteries. Most people don’t have the funds to buy replacement batteries or pay for electronic support. Also batteries pose a hazard to babies/toddlers not closely supervised. And please no toys that are violent, like guns. We like to give kids new toys at Christmas but some toys can be reused if nearly new ( legos , dolls that new clothes can be made for) etc. If you have a toy that is in very good condition, and wish to send it, please make a special bag to wrap it in, to make it look like new. Please do not wrap your gifts as the Christmas team on the Rez will make up the gift packages. Wrapping supplies can certainly be sent though.
Wanblee Christmas List
- Sports Equipment – basketballs, volleyballs, footballs, soccer balls, baseballs, bats, bikes, scooters, skateboards, wagons. Nerf balls for smaller kids and inside play.
- Craft items – coloring books, crayons, paint by number sets, etc. Craft kits for all ages such as jewelry, play dough kit, stencil kit, loom kit etc. Lots of scope with the craft kits.
- Books – from board books for babies to books for teens
- Construction toys like legos big and small sizes), duplos, tinker toys, log cabin logs, other intersecting toys
- Dolls and stuffed animals
- Games – card and board games, puzzles
- Cars, trucks, sand toys
- Bedding – pillows, pillowcases and blankets
- Shoes and winter boots, slippers, socks, underwear, all sizes
- Winter coats, hats, gloves/mittens, scarves, cowls, buntings for babies
- Winter clothing – long sleeve tops, pants, hoodies, sweats, long underwear, warm dresses with tights/leotards, warm PJ’s, sleep sacks for babies, sweaters
If you have something to send not on the list ,please check with us before you ship. Theresa has been setting aside many things from your donations for Christmas if there was no immediate need for them. One of the reasons for the storage truck was to safely store items that were out of season so they could be easily accessed when needed. They receive donations from us as well as a few other charities at different times of the year. Homes on the Rez are small and could have 10 or more people living in them, especially in winter months , with workers coming home from seasonal work off the Rez. Needless to say storage is non-existent in these overcrowded homes so seasonal items aren’t given out until needed unless someone makes a special request.
We’ll be posting ideas and patterns for making craft kits, toys, accessories, etc. and pass along any good sales we hear of, hopefully each week until the shipping deadline, which is still to be determined. I remember receiving one toy for Christmas as a child, the rest of our gifts were socks, underwear or whatever else we needed. Our hope is to give children toys and books that are fun but also provide a learning experience through play and also to send winter clothing to keep them warm so they can go out to play, go to school and be warm in their poorly heated homes.
Thanks from Sew For Kids.
Our last blog focused on making blankets and afghans, this one is about the other two requests for the month, pajamas and pillowcases/pillows. Last February many of you made pillowcases for the kids and some of you even sent the pillows to go in them. This project was a huge success on the Rez and Theresa was astonished at just how much the kids loved them. They were first given out in March to some of the school kids who were going on an overnight trip and who didn’t have a pillow or a pillowcase. Needless to say they were thrilled to have a nice soft place to lay their head for the trip not to mention it was theirs to take home afterwards! Pillows and pillowcases continued to come in so a few weeks ago Theresa was meeting with a group of children and she pulled out them out and told the kids to help themselves if they needed one. One of the boys was so excited to get one with his favorite dinosaur on it, others were just happy to finally have a pillow of their very own. Sadly there wasn’t a pillow for everyone that needed one. Since the need is so great and they were so well received by the children Theresa would love to have another give away of pillows and pillowcases at the Christmas party. This is a quick sewing project that’s easy on the budget and pillows can be found online many times with free shipping. We’ll share links if we find a sale on pillows and please let us know if you find a good deal. You can refer back to this blog to see samples and patterns for making pillowcases. You can make them for all ages as the tweens and teens love them too. They can be made extra special for the younger kids by adding a pocket to the front so they can put in their favorite bedtime book or a special stuffed animal or their PJs as seen in these links. Use age appropriate fabric and please no owls or coyotes. Horses are very dear to kids on the Rez as are dogs so they would love a pillowcase with them; basketball and soccer are favorites too and a cute Christmas theme would be fun as well. If you don’t sew you can still participate by sending a pillow or two.
Warm pajamas for kids is another need that would also be a great Christmas gift. PJ’s add another layer of warmth to help keep those little bodies toasty on cold winter nights. We’ve made PJs before you can review in this blog, just skip down to the relevant part. This project was a big success too as so many kids don’t have PJ’s and go to bed in their street clothes. Use bright colors, kid prints, try color blocking, an applique just be creative and have fun. Keeping them warm is most important so if you don’t have kids prints and have some warm fabric make a pair anyway. Knitters and crocheters , we need you to make slippers to keep little feet warm on those cold, drafty floors. My grandkids love to get clothes, PJ’S, underwear and socks and believe it or not they are some of their favorite gifts.
Rez News for September
Jerome called today and was so excited about all the great donations coming in from our generous supporters. He’s recovering from his knee surgery and is progressing but is still in a lot of pain as there are several rods connecting the joint. He is doing physiotherapy twice a week in Rapid City and several of the Woodchucks have volunteered to drive him as it will be a while before he can drive himself. It’s so wonderful to hear they’re on the receiving end this time as they do so much for others. Theresa either can’t or doesn’t like to drive so this eases her burden of getting him to his appointments and she’s only too happy to have a hot meal waiting when they return. Having the boxes to open is a diversion for Jerome during his rehab and he and Theresa are always amazed at your generosity.
Jerome is getting stir crazy and wants to get back to work on his projects. He went out to supervise the Woodchucks cutting wood for the winter project but had to come home when he found himself wanting to pick up a saw and help, something he’s not to do per doctor’s orders. They are behind schedule and need to get the wood stacked as the group from Wisconsin didn’t get to the Rez early enough to help with the project before they started building Bernadette’s house. Her home still needs the floor finished, wood stove installed and a few other finishing touches which will be done by Jerome’s construction friends from Wisconsin. Snow arrived this past week and stayed on the ground a couple of days so winter isn’t too far away. The heating assistance program on the Rez doesn’t start until October so another reason for cutting wood now. Many, many thanks to those who’ve already sent the Woodchucks boots, coats, warm mittens and hats, and had oil delivered for the saws to get them ready for the season. Having the proper clothing is a blessing to these men when they’re out in the cold weather cutting, chopping and delivering wood. Jerome has plans to make a storage shed from some of the old pallets so the wood can stay dry, for now they’re using tarps but they still have to dig the wood out from under mounds of snow before they can deliver it. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit is providing the 2X4′s for the frame and has also put out an appeal for help with their heating assistance program and warm winter clothing and blanket drive, please help if you can. SFK is a program of Hearts so we’re already working on the clothing and blankets.
Theresa said the sewing circle is meeting on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Kennedy Center when available, it’s also used for funerals, wakes, etc. She has loaned out the machines to some of the women so they can work on projects during the rest of the week but they bring the machines back to class so others can use them. We’re waiting patiently to receive some pics of their projects. The group has received batting, fabric and lots of notions so a big thanks to those that sent these supplies that have allowed them to get this project up and running. We’re hoping they can sell some of their things to raise money to purchase more supplies. We have asked for a list of items still needed and will post when received.
Theresa and Jerome are no longer receiving food from the food bank in Rapid City as they’re partnership with Worldwide Hunger Relief has ended, they’re hoping another 501c3 will step up and help them with this vital need. They had received about $350 worth of food from the food bank that was shared with 30-40 families each month. Because of this loss they are so grateful for all the food items that have come in – the small tins of spam, ham, chicken and tuna feed the hungry kids who come knocking at their door and are also given to families to add to their soup pot for extra nutrition. They’ve also received peanut butter, (need jelly for pbj’s), cereal, coffee, tea, sugar, soup, beans, boxed milk and many other food items. Jerome repackages items like coffee, sugar and flour into smaller quantities so more families can be helped. Running Strong will bring food at the holidays so that will help some. So many thanks to all of you who fill up that small leftover space in your box with food items. Gift certificates to Walmart and Sam’s are always welcome, food can be purchased there whenever the High Horse’s go to Rapid City. Online shoppers can send food from Amazon, Dollar General and many other stores with free shipping and DG offers special discounts so it pays to sign up for their mailing list.
Theresa and Jerome have been asked to host the Halloween party again this year. It was not their intention but flyers had already been put up around town so felt obligated. Word has gotten out to other parts of the Rez and people have been asking if they can come too, of course everyone is welcome. Kids and adults will dress up for a “zombie walk” around town, games will be played with small prizes and they’ll have prizes for the 3 best adult and children’s costumes. Although SFK “officially” helps with only the Christmas and Easter parties we are putting the information out for those of you that may want to help with this party. Jerome and Theresa’s main goal is to help children, whether it’s by putting food on their tables, keeping their homes warm, providing clothing or school supplies, or by providing some fun activities to help relieve them from the day to day hardships they face living on the Rez. They are so grateful to all of you and realize that none of this would be possible without your continued, generous support.
Wanblee Halloween Party at the Kennedy Center, October 25 3:00 pm - “Zombie Walk” 5:00 pm- Chili supper with fry bread, pumpkin pie and lemonade 7:00 pm- Carnival: Featuring Cookie, Popcorn ball, Pop and Make-up booths and Cake Walk Costume contest: 1st prize - Gift Box, 2nd prize – Blanket Set, 3rd prize – Food Box Theresa and Jerome plan to shop for food at Walmart or Sam’s club in Rapid City. If you want to send a gift certificate it can be sent here as well as any other items you make this month. You can also send a check to a newly formed, soon to be 501c3, they’re just waiting for their “official” letter from the IRS:
Lakota Friends Circle
c/o Anne Fields
2415 Amberbrook Lane
Grayson GA 30017
Theresa will buy the favors and small prizes for the games at the dollar store. If you’re sending a box soon she may use some of those things as prizes. The larger gifts for the best costumes might not be a problem as they’ve already received such great things from all of you they sometimes put aside for special occasions. Theresa’s sister usually makes the cupcakes for the cake walk but they can always use regular popcorn for the popcorn balls. Theresa will make the chili, fry bread (she makes a pretty mean fry bread!) and the pumpkin pies. If you have any extra metal pie plates they would be great for Theresa so she doesn’t have to keep buying the aluminum ones for every party. Cookies and candy will need to be purchased so add a few bucks in an envelope to the next box you send or add a bag of candy if you have room.
Well that’s the wrap-up for the month of September, keep sewing, knitting and crocheting to keep our kids warm this winter. This blog is a little late but blankets, pj’s, and pillows/pillowcases are an ongoing need and can be sent any time. Christmas is rapidly approaching so the next blog will have some ideas and patterns for gifts. Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.
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, 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.