Well winter is still present on the Rez as it is in many states across the country, snow began to melt but the thaw was short lived as another storm is on the way. Will it ever end??
Jerome, Theresa and the Woodchucks have been busy sawing wood as many folks still need it to keep warm. Since the saws have really taken a beating this winter I decided to send the funds to purchase new blades and chains for three of the saws as Jerome wasn’t able to sharpen them anymore. The log splitter has also been in constant use and he’s had to do repairs on that as well. Fortunately Jerome is an all around “Jack of all Trades” which comes in pretty handy when resources are limited. The Woodchucks needed more gloves too as they go through them quickly unless they have leather palms. A supply came in from some supporters so hopefully they can make it through the rest of the season with those. If you see any good work gloves on sale and have a few extra dollars to spare they will be needed for next winter.
Propane has doubled and even tripled in some areas of the country which means more folks than usual are without heat. Propane companies previously delivered a minimum order of $150 but this year that has increased to $200, an impossible amount to come up with for many households. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit has helped many families, thanks to donations from many of you, and some funding is finally coming from the government but it’s still tough going on the Rez. Your donations of warm items are important every winter but they have been a godsend this year! Many thanks to Joan in MN, Diane in NM and Carol in Maine for sending crock pots so families that couldn’t use their stoves could still prepare a hot meal. This wonderful group reminds me of the famous quote, “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead
The storage truck (semi trailer) that was donated a couple of months ago via Hearts of the Sacred Spirit made possible through Richard Field’s foundation, has received funding for some improvements. Anne Fields (Richard’s wife) from Georgia knew the truck would need some remodeling to make it more usable, so she applied for and received a $1000 grant to install shelving, insulation and electric. Jerome and his volunteer crew will be doing the work and with spring break just around the corner he’s hoping college students will be descending on the Rez looking for volunteer opportunities. He’s making a list! Plastic storage containers will be needed for clothing, etc. that’s out of season so they’ve been picking one up on their trips to Walmart. I will be donating containers for the baby items, just waiting to see what size will best fit on the shelves. We want Debbie and Theresa to have quick access to the stock and to let us know when things are running low.
Jerome has 2 homes that are in dire need of repair, actually they’re uninhabitable, but the occupants have nowhere else to go. He’s been taking measurements of the homes and making a supply list, am waiting to see if there’s something our group can do to help. He’s hoping to get help from Hearts of the Sacred Spirit and Worldwide Hunger Relief donors. If any of you are interested in helping with the funding of this project, monetary donations can be made to Hearts of the Sacred Spirit just add a note which project it’s for.
The Kennedy Hall has a large electric bill that hasn’t been paid and Jerome had to go to the tribal council to see if they would help. This is the only building the community has to hold holiday celebrations, funerals, group meetings, etc. and the same building Jerome and Theresa hoped to hold ”movie night” for the community. The council has agreed to help get the bill paid but they have to find a long term solution for future utility costs. Presently there is a flat $50 fee per day to use the center which helps pay for building upkeep, cleaning supplies and utilities. Some have used the building in the past, promised to pay the fee but never followed through, the monies will now be collected upfront. Jerome and Theresa pay $50 out of their pocket every time they want to use the building for a party, NAHA deliveries, movie nights, sewing night for the ladies or any other function.
We’re trying to come up with ways to make the building more accessible and affordable for activities. The winter months are the most costly with utilities running about $200 per month, summer months are much cheaper as they don’t use AC and there’s no concern about freezing pipes. The building has electric heat which is expensive, more efficient lighting and solar panels are being discussed but this will take funding and won’t happen overnight. Folks in the community that can afford it will contribute to the center but they will need help as most simply don’t have much to give. Kids need a safe place to go for after school activities and recreation. The women want to sew and the kids keep asking when the next movie night will be so we have to put our heads together and come up with a way to make it happen for them. One of the ways we can help is to send supplies for movie nights and parties so we can relieve Jerome and Theresa’s pocketbook a little, they aren’t wealthy and do as much as they can with what they have. Needed supplies are Styrofoam cups, plates, plastic cutlery, hot chocolate, popcorn and popcorn oil. Gift cards to Sam’s Club are much appreciated as they can purchase large quantities of popcorn and oil there. They hold back some cleaning supplies and toilet paper that come in from the NAHA deliveries to keep at the center for everyone to use. We’re looking for ideas so put your thinking caps on and send them our way!
February has come to a close and that means we’ll be starting a new project. For those of you that made items for this month’s project they can be sent here. Thanks to all who participated in the towel, washcloth and pillowcase drive. If you don’t have enough right now to fill a good sized box wait until you do so the shipping costs are more affordable. If you took pictures of your donations don’t forget to send them our way, we’d love to post them for everyone to see.
Next month we’ll be making bags for kids ages 0-14. They will be used to collect Easter eggs at the party but we’re really making them for carrying books, clothes, toys or whatever else kids want to load in there. If bag making isn’t your thing we’ll be sharing ideas for making stuffed animals or softies for the kids. Easter isn’t until April 20th so we’ll have plenty of time to sew. Janet has set up a March Pinterest board so send your ideas or favorite pins so we can add them. Hope you can join us for this project!
Some photos of donations that came in for this month’s drive. Several other items were donated but I do not have photos to share. Also other items that were not this month’s project were donated and I will highlight them in the month of that project. We are so thankful to have such great supporters with generous hearts and such talent. !
The final project we’ll make this month is a child’s pillowcase. There have been many pillowcase drives on the web for kids that are ill, homeless or those going to new foster homes or experiencing other problems. Children on the Rez need their spirits lifted as well and a new, brightly colored pillowcase is something we can do to help. Usually we accept used items in good condition but for this project we’d like the pillowcase to be purchased new or constructed of new materials. Of course if your fabric happens to be a sheet that’s barely used that’s acceptable too, just don’t forget to add some colorful trim or contrasting fabric to make it ”kid appealing”. We’re sewing standard sized cases, finished size 21″ x 32″ for children ages 2 through early teens so you have a wide variety of fabrics to choose from. I’m on a fabric diet now because I promised my husband no more purchases until my stash loses some girth!
There are plenty of pillowcase tutorials on the web but I do want to recommend using the techniques shown here, here and here. There are some really creative ideas here and they use a technique that encases the seam so it doesn’t ravel when laundered, especially good if you don’t own a serger. Lots of patterns here and here if you have lots of smaller pieces in your scrap bag.
This project is a lot of fun and goes really fast once you make the first one. Bonnie at Fishstick designs has it down to 9 1/2minutes ! It’s also a great first sewing project to do with your children or grandchildren as Jan P did with her 7 year old granddaughter Zoey, french seams to boot! Not only did she learn some new sewing skills and help make 9 pillowcases but she also learned about “giving back” by making something for someone in need. Children helping children, what great inspiration for us all! Lets here it for the kids! Love the colors. Will brighten a child’s day/night.
These pillowcases will be given out as gifts at the community parties, at the clinic as a “reward” for coming in for immunizations, etc. and to those children experiencing any kind of trauma or loss. My sister made my 2 grandsons a few pillowcases and they use them on the pillow but also use them to cuddle with like a small blanket. Pillowcases can cover up an old pillow and make it look new again or if the child doesn’t have a pillow they can make one by filling it up with clothing as children do in foster care when they fill it up with their belongings. There are many other ways to use a pillowcase as seen here and here.
We know many of our sewers also knit and crochet and Jean in WI, one of our volunteers who’s also a Ravelry member, volunteered to start a group over there to attract new members and generate more interest for our cause. Some of the supporters on our site asked if one could be set up. Jean just informed me the new Sew For Kids Ravelry group is up and ready to join and welcomes any of you interested in knitting and crocheting to come on over and check it out. Many of you are probably already Ravelry members and use the site often as there are tons of free and designer patterns for sale. If you’re not a Ravelry member and want to join you can do so here. Thanks Jean for the getting the site set up. Thanks to Tamie G for helping to moderate the group along with Jean. Keep those suggestions coming!
Please share photos of your pillowcases or other projects. Our next blog will update you on some Wanblee news. As always thanks from Sew For Kids. Sweet Dreams Kids!
The next project I’m tackling this month is washcloths because my stash is full of stretch terry, cotton, flannel and knit scraps begging to be used. You can also use minky or chenille scraps for young babies if you happen to have any of those in your stash. Stained or blemished towels can be recycled into washcloths, just cut around the flaw and finish the edges by serging or binding as shown here. Upcycle an old cotton sweater shown here, or use an old cotton blanket for some really great washcloths. You can buy premade baby washcloths and make them even better using the tutorial found here. If you use knits for your project check out this link for some great tips in sewing with knits. Washcloth sizes can be anywhere from 8″ to 12″ square, smaller ones being better for babies and larger ones for older kids.
I basically made my washcloths using this video. You can round the corners by using a plate or bowl edge at the corners to make the curve. I think it’s good to sew an “X” or a few parallel lines across the fabric to keep the layers from shifting. These would be good for children of all ages as well as adults. The washcloths I made last month to match the hooded towels didn’t use topstitching but if you’re using that pattern I recommend adding this extra step, also good to do on double layered receiving blankets.
If you don’t have fabric large enough for this project get your scrap bag out and “piece” a square and iron your seams open to reduce bulk. Make it an “I Spy” cloth for the little ones by using kid prints with dogs, cats, etc. for them to find. Here’s another way to make a washcloth that stays on your hand while bathing. Then there’s always the puppet washcloths for kids shown here and here , if you have the time and want to make something a little more challenging. I guarantee the kids will love them! I’m always searching the web for more ideas this is what showed up when googling “washcloths to sew“.
Washcloths can also be knitted and crocheted, I’ve used this classic washcloth pattern many times in matching pastels and tying them together with ribbon for a nice gift. More patterns for knit and crochet cloths here, here and here. We don’t want to leave out the loom knitters, you can find a pattern here using the blue loom.
If you still want more patterns check out the washcloths to make in the crochet and knit sections on Ravelry. Don’t forget to check out our SFK February project board on our Pinterest site. Send us your favorite patterns so we can share them with others and “Pin” them to our boards.
Most of the country is stuck in more winter weather so chase away those winter blues by sewing, knitting or crocheting washcloths for the Wanblee kids. Most kids love bath time so let’s make it “funner” with a cute washcloth so they can ”scrub a dub dub in their little tubs.” If you do help with this project, send them here. As always thanks for your help and continuing support.
Photos of my washcloth creations . I finally uploaded the towels I made and put them in the “February Project” blog.
Late as usual to get the post up but better late than never. I’m glad I posted the yearly projects in this blog, so you’re able to work ahead when I get behind with the blogs. This month we’re concentrating on pillowcases, towels and washcloths for babies through teens. While the hooded baby towels may not be used by others in the family, I do know that regular towels will be used by everyone. Sheets of all sizes are needed so add them to your box if you have any that are in good condition. Bedding and towels are not in great supply on the Rez. Many sleep on drafty floors in their street clothes using only a blanket if they can find one. If there is a bed it will be shared with others as there isn’t room in a 3 bedroom home for everyone to have their own bed. Some homes have 15 or more occupants in the winter months due to the number of family members that return home from seasonal jobs. Once spring arrives they will head out once again looking for work so they can send money back home.
Eight mattresses came in from NAHA over Christmas and Jerome found wood around the area to build frames for them so people could get off their cold and drafty floors. These twin and queen size beds went to 8 families that were sleeping on the floor. Jerome often goes to construction sites and begs for the leftovers knowing there will be a future need for building supplies We’re also very fortunate to have an organization I contacted in early fall, Kidz Quiltz , donate 30 quilts in sizes 45″x54″ and 45″x72″. A BIG Thank You to all the generous quilters of that organization! So those quilts along with our donations this month should help some people have a better night’s sleep.
Used bedding and towels in good, clean condition are welcome but we would like to make new pillowcases for the kids. This is an easy sewing project and an excellent one for beginners or kids to participate in. You can send used pillow cases too, others in the family will use them. Used towels can be jazzed up with trim and appliques appealing to kids although we know they will probably be used by others in the family.
My first project for the month is sewing hooded baby towels and washcloths, nurse Debbie likes to give them out to new mothers on her postpartum home visits. I went “shopping” in my stash and found terrycloth purchased from an earlier thrift store find that I’ve been wanting to use up. Hooded towels are especially nice for kids on the Rez as they help prevent heat loss from bare heads after a bath. Check thrift stores for good used towels or the white sales many stores are having for new ones. All those warm hats you donated are doing double duty as they’re also worn indoors to keep people warm.
There are many ways to make hooded towels, I used the Purl Bee site, but changed the pattern (don’t I always). Check this site for making a bias bound towel or our past guest blogger for instructions to make her towels. For this towel I omitted adding the backing piece so the fabric could be saved to make a pair of kids shorts for summer. To finish the edges I sewed bias cut scraps together for binding. The finished towel is 32″x 32″ and the hood was made by cutting a 12″ square of terry and a coordinating fabric for lining. I basically followed the blog instructions but sewed the hood to the corner and rounded the edges to make the binding job a little easier. The washcloth was made from a 10″ piece of terry and coordinating fabric as in the blog. If you make the towel or washcloth in the pattern, make sure you sew a few lines thru each layer of the washcloth and towel ( like you do when you quilt) to keep the pieces together when washed or used.
Making and applying binding is a skill I need to perfect which is why I chose to add it to this project. There are some great tutorials and videos here , here, and here and this video shows how to use a bias tape maker, this Pinterest site is loaded with How To’s. Usually I sew the binding to the front of a quilt then sew it to the back by hand but to save time on this project I sewed the binding to the back of the towel with a 1/4 inch seam allowance and then turned it over to the front and used a zigzag stitch to finish. To join the ends of the binding I used this method which works every time.
Most of our members are on limited budgets and don’t always have the money to add all the frills to their projects they might like to because the needs of the Rez are so great and there are only so many resources and time. Mailing costs drive up the cost of projects even further so we try to concentrate on functional needs that will make people’s lives a little more tolerable. Although we do welcome all crafters we’re mainly a sewing site so want to share tips, patterns and new techniques with you to keep things interesting and challenging. That’s how I keep my sewing projects interesting by learning something new knowing the result is something that can be used on the Rez and since I usually make more than one of each item my skill gets better. We’re always asking for your photos as you all have such wonderful ideas that inspire others and what better way to learn than from others that share your passion. You can always share your ideas with us on the facebook page or the yahoo group .
We have our own Pinterest site with boards for knitters, crocheters, sewers and also ones for our monthly projects. If you need to learn or need help with a skill each craft has it’s own “tips” board. This is a work in progress so check back often. Send your favorite pins so we can add them to the boards. We’re adding pins for the February project now so check them out.
Your gifts can be sent here.
January is quickly coming to an end and we want to thank all of you that helped make the Winter Warmth project so successful . Over the last three months SFK volunteers have crafted and/or purchased hats, mittens, gloves, scarves, socks, boots, warm clothing, coats and blankets. You helped fill the High Horse shelves to overflowing with all the warm winter gear people in Wanblee so desperately needed. This year when Jerome and Theresa received a phone call or a knock on their door asking for something warm they were able to say, “Yes we can help with that”. You responded to special needs, the daycare center reopened the other day and many of the children didn’t have warm coats, hats or mittens. A couple from our group sent coats from the J C Penney winter sale and there were still mittens and hats from the Winter Warmth project to give out so several children went home that day smiling and very warm. Nurse Debbie picked up several boxes of donations for babies and children she’ll give out during clinics at the WIC office and on her home visits she makes to new mothers. You were so generous that she couldn’t fit everything in her car, but the High Horse’s will keep the surplus safe in the new storage trailer until she’s ready for more. Many elders are much warmer sitting in their chairs because they have new afghans, blankets and slippers made by our dedicated and talented supporters. Many elders are diabetic and keeping their feet warm is extremely important. And several girls got a big surprise this year when some wonderful dresses showed up for them, made by Dress A Girl Around the World- Tucson. That helped raise some kids’ self esteem and made them feel special!
Recently the men that deliver wood and NAHA boxes to people living in remote areas had to stop deliveries because it was so brutally cold and they were so poorly dressed that it would’ve been a danger to their health to continue. Once again you came to their aid providing everything they needed so they could bundle up and resume their vitally important deliveries. People need the NAHA boxes to make it to the end of the month because food the government donates to Native Americans, which was decided upon by treaties in the past, only lasts 3 weeks. Without outside help from NAHA (Native American Heritage Association), Worldwide Hunger Relief, Hearts of the Sacred Spirit and from people like yourselves our Lakota friends would be in an even worse situation than they currently are. While these organizations aren’t able to provide assistance every month they do help in the critical winter months when needs are the greatest.
Jerome High Horse sent me a link to this video on You Tube produced by NAHA that shows their important work in the Native American community. Theresa and Jerome are highlighted in the film because they recently took over the local NAHA program so food would get into the hands of people that desperately needed it.
Now that the daycare center has reopened we anticipate many requests for needs that can’t be met by parents so keep working on anything for babies (no newborn sizes) and children through age 12. WIC helps pregnant and nursing mothers and their children through age 5 with food, education, etc. and always need items to hand out when their clients come in. Since nurse Debbie sees her patients at the WIC office we’re hoping to coordinate their needs together.
We’re ending our final post of the month with some links to free patterns for warm winter gear for those of you that like to work ahead for this fall’s project. We don’t want those knitters and crocheters sitting around on these long winter nights with nothing to do! Janet, my SFK sidekick, has set up a Pinterest site with different boards for sewing, knitting, crocheting, etc. We have one just for winter sewing patterns so check that out if you have time, also send along your favorite pattern if we don’t have it. Here’s a pattern for mittens sewn from recycled felted wool sweaters ( or use fleece) for those of you wanting to try something new. This link is for Janet’s current favorite knitting project, a cowl she especially likes it because it double wraps around the neck and can be pulled up over the head for those cold SD winters, not to mention it’s an easy, mindless project. Knitting Pattern Central is a great place to find free patterns if you haven’t joined Ravelry yet. Crocheters learn FPDC with this pattern, or how about a tiger hat for fun, or browse more free patterns here . I’m just finishing up sewing buttons on the baby sweaters I knitted over this past month and will post pictures soon. We would love to post pictures of your finished projects too so please send them along.
Again thanks to everyone that contributed to the winter program, your efforts were especially important this year with the early arrival of a colder and snowier than usual winter season and with all the cuts made to government programs. You’ve helped many people in the Wanblee area and beyond to stay a little warmer this winter. SFK has the most talented and generous people on the net! New month, new project next blog.
We’re well into January and I do apologize for not posting until now although I did manage to get some information out about the project on our Facebook page and Yahoo group, both of which you are invited to join.
Winter came in like a lion and is still roaring in lots of places across the US including the Rez. Due to the unusually harsh weather Hearts of the Sacred Spirit has been inundated with calls for heating assistance, they’ve already helped over 70 people this winter and it’s only been here 3 weeks! The Heating assistance program runs from October through March. Jerome High Horse and his Woodchucks are doing their best to get wood cut and delivered to those with wood stoves. They also recently installed 3 new stoves, 2 of them donated by a woman from Ohio who personally drove them to the Rez and the other one coming from Hearts of the Sacred Spirit. We want to prevent families from burning clothes, furniture and other items they have in the house in order to keep warm, something that is done out of desperation. Jerome is handing out the warm clothing and blankets you’ve all so generously donated. Most homes are cold even if they have wood or propane as homes are usually poorly insulated and in a state of disrepair. As a result people were asking Jerome for electric heaters and a request went out to Pine Ridge Elders (another group I’m a member of) and 20 heaters were delivered this week with most already distributed.
Some of our wonderful supporters are making monetary donations to Hearts for the heating program (it takes $150 to partially fill a tank) and are getting the word out to others about this critical need. Thanks to each and every one of you that gave money, donated a coat, knitted a pair of mittens or crocheted a hat, each act of kindness means a warmer person on the Rez. We found out a bit of good news, there was a little extra help this year with heat, each tribal member received a $333 credit to use for utilities or heat if they filled out an application. Unfortunately not every one received help as many either couldn’t get to the site the day the census was held or weren’t aware of it because they lacked a radio, TV, electric, etc.
Even the lucky ones that received it will only be warm for a short time, $333 doesn’t last very long when wind chills are -50. The heating bill for my home in Illinois that is well insulated and with the thermostat set at 55 was $200 this month and that’s without heating water or cooking! My sister who lives in Canada spent 5 days without heat and electricity over Christmas. She put on as many warm clothes as possible and covered up with blankets and was still so cold that by the 5th day she started crying from the stress of trying to keep herself warm and not having a hot meal to eat. She finally managed to get a generator but that’s not something people on the Rez can afford. This might be a one time experience for my sister but unfortunately is a yearly event on the Rez.
So that being said, we decided to keep making warm things through the month of January as we don’t know how long winter will remain. So we’re asking you to please send any warm things you have mittens, socks, hats, scarves, long underwear, coats and blankets for all sizes baby through adult here. Jerome and Theresa are getting daily calls for warm things including calls from 4 families that lost their homes to fire. All your donations find a grateful recipient as families are always in need no matter the time of year, it’s just more critical during the winter.
There’s a few new happenings on the blog, we’ve set up a Sew For Kids Pinterest page and already have quite a few boards for you to browse. Most of the pins are for free patterns from some very generous bloggers that offer their patterns or tutorials for free. We hope to have a new board up each month for the project we’ll be working on with some suggested patterns or ideas, of course you may still use your own personal favorites. If you would like to share your favorite send us the link and we’ll pin it on our board.
We’re also updating the site as some groups we no longer help due to funding cuts or administrative issues (Rosebud Hospital and Wanblee Daycare). We ARE still sending to Jerome and Theresa High Horse and Nurse Debbie will pick up her baby items from them. Programs may open and close, new administrations come and go but the needs of the people remain constant. Your donations are distributed directly into the hands of the people that need them the most. Remember not everything has to be sewn, knitted or crocheted, they don’t even have to be new, just in good used condition that meet our guidelines. All crafters, shoppers, and thrifters are welcome here!!
We know some of you have your favorite things to make and won’t participate every month but that doesn’t mean you can’t work ahead and make a stockpile. Clothing is needed in all sizes for kids ages 0-12 so sew for everyone or just babies if that’s your specialty. There are plenty of teens that need clothing too but when they get to be a certain age they prefer ready made clothing. Hopefully when the storage system is set up in the trailer we’ll know more about their inventory and what size or items are needed most.
Here’s a quick overview of what our monthly projects will be this year to give you a heads up. We’ll be blogging about each month’s projects giving more details and patterns.
January - Warm winter clothing and blankets
February – Towels all sizes, washcloths and pillowcases,( pillows if you want to make for kids). Used towels are acceptable
March – Tote bag month for books, or toy, home made or purchased, they’ll be used for Easter gifts at the annual party and egg hunt.
April – Girls month – making spring/summer dresses, shorts, skirts , skorts and tops
May – Boys month – making spring/summer shorts, pants and tops
June – Baby month – making diaper bags, burp pads, bibs, etc
July – school supply month - book bags, pencil cases, paper, pencils, notebooks, glue, etc
August – socks, underwear (patterns to sew your own on our Pinterest page), shoes, winter PJs
September- Warm school clothes for boys and girls including hats mittens and coats
October – Christmas gifts
November -Blankets, mittens, hats , scarves, coats
December – Rest and relax or work on warm items .
None of this is written in stone and is subject to change but it’s what we feel is needed at this time. You can send any of the items at any time of the year now that we have a truck to store items in. The only exception is Christmas gifts, if there’s a need before next November they won’t be saved.
So please join with us and help make this our most productive year yet. Although we send all our donations to Wanblee Jerome and Theresa do get calls for help from the surrounding areas and if they have any needed items load up the car and promptly deliver them. Such is the Indian way, “Mitakuye Oyasin”, or “we are all related”.
Jerome is still trying to figure out the best way to get photos to me but Gloria who organized the gift project that we participated in sent me photos to share. Thank you Gloria for allowing us to be part of the Christmas celebration and sharing the day with us.
This blog is long overdue, I had good intentions of posting before Christmas but life around here, at least this year, has been hectic to say the least. Many have emailed asking about the Christmas party so here’s what you’ve all been waiting so patiently for……
The Christmas celebration kicked off with the second annual Parade of Lights, there were 14 floats in the parade with three of them coming from the communities of Martin, Allen and Pine Ridge. It appears this will be an annual event and hopefully will continue to grow with each passing year. Santa arrived in style by sleigh as Wanblee had just gotten a fresh layer of snow ordered by local children I’m sure. Some old friends of the High Horses (Santa included) and many from the local community of Wanblee joined together (20+) to help out with the festivities and were essential for the party’s success. They made sandwiches, cooked soup, decorated the hall, wrapped and sorted gifts and of course helped with the clean up after it was all over. Jerome and Theresa High Horse both grew up on the Rez and raised a family of 7 children before leaving for several years living and working in many states across the US and returned to Wanblee about 6 years ago to help their people. They developed many good friends in their time off the Rez and many of those friends came to help them with the party.
The truck from Wisconsin, provided by Worldwide Hunger Relief arrived on the Rez later than expected, the day before to be exact, so there was a frantic rush to get everything together for the party the next day. Gloria and Lisa, whom we helped with the Christmas box drive, also arrived following behind the truck in their car. Presents, party food, decorations, warm clothing, sheets, blankets, household goods and items for our baby program were all unloaded from the truck before it left making it’s way to other parts of the Rez to deliver much needed items to communities in need. Many other donations arrived including a shipment from Hearts of the Sacred Spirit with 400 gift bags assembled by high school students containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, etc; a friend arrived bearing 600 small gifts they had collected, several members of the Pine Ridge Elders group sent in items they made for kids and adults and Billy Mills’ organization had warm blankets and coats to donate. A NAHA truck arrived with 350 turkey dinners which were given out to families Jerome and Theresa knew were in desperate need of food including one household that has 31 people living in a small 3 bedroom house.
Over 500 children showed up for the party and with the adults that accompanied them the total attendance was about 700-800 people. Food had to be set up outside as the Kennedy Center isn’t big enough to accomodate a crowd of that size. Many people sat outside as well and fortunately the weather was tolerable, elders were given a warm place to eat in a room behind the kitchen. They served more than 20 gallons of soup, hundreds of sandwiches (5 rolls of bologna, 8 rolls of salami), mugs of steaming hot chocolate with cookies for dessert. Goodie bags were made from all the donations of apples, oranges, trail mix and candy and were given out to each child. After the children finished their meal they came through the Center and received their gifts from Santa including a blanket, small gift bag, 2 other gifts, their choice of books and a sandwich and cookies to take home. Hats and mittens were handed out to those in need. Also some of the warm items were saved to give out to the riders, many of them youth, for the Big Foot Ride that started on the 26th.
Gloria and Lisa delivered food and gifts to 7 different households that couldn’t attend the party. The residents of those homes welcomed them in and were so overwhelmed with gratitude for including them in their celebration, they thanked them many times before they left. There were enough things left over after the party to donate to 2 churches on the Rez so they could have a Christmas party for their communities. Pictures of the event will be posted once I receive them.
Everyone take a bow, pat yourself on the back we did it again, the party was a success!! Children and their families went home with their stomach’s full, their arms laden with gifts and a big smile on their faces. This is why we exist and do what we do, to give hope to people that sometimes don’t have a reason to hope.
Another exciting thing that’s happened in Wanblee is the arrival of a semi trailer the day after the party that will be used as a storage container for all the donations SFK and others send to the High Horse’s. Funding was provided by a small foundation that felt storage space was sorely needed and would be a great asset to the community. Jerome and Theresa have been storing whatever donations not immediately handed out upon arrival in their basement, especially out of season goods, which left little room to process and store new deliveries arriving several times a week not to mention losing the use of part of their home for their own needs. The trailer will allow them to store donations that come in for all seasons and to keep goods on hands for emergencies including food. Jerome’s friend has applied for a grant to install electric in the trailer so they can hook up freezers to store food that comes in from NAHA and other donors. Shelving will also be added and eventually plastic containers purchased so clothing can be sorted into sizes so they can see where the shortages are which will make things easier for SFK as we can do a drive for specific items.
Everyone at Sew For Kids hopes that all of you enjoyed the holidays with your families and wishes you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014. We can’t thank our dedicated supporters enough for all the help they’ve given us over the past year. The new year will bring new needs and challenges which we hope to meet with your help. We can’t do it without you so please continue to support our efforts to help those on the Rez.
And on a final note, Jerome sent this note to me to pass on to all of you.
“Thanks for the support to our community Children and Families this year 2013.
God Bless and Have A Merry Christmas
Santa’s workshop has been in full production over the last few months because of all the little elves who have been working behind the scenes making and buying items that will bring smiles and laughter to many children when Santa arrives on the Rez December 14th with his bag of goodies. Sew For Kids has been blessed with so many elves using their talents, time and energy to ensure that there will be gifts for all the children who attend.
Last year 700 people showed up and only 500 were expected. People came from Wanblee and its surrounding communities, from Rosebud Reservation, and from the main campus of Pine Ridge Reservation, 110 miles from Wanblee, having heard about it through relatives in Wanblee or the moccasin trail. Also last year 160 bags of goodies were put together for 160 people/families in need who could not attend , who were shut ins or who had no transportation to get to the event. NAHA ( Native American Heritage Association) sent in the food goodies for the Christmas distribution.
This weekend Gloria Klomsten whom you sent your items to for the Christmas boxes and her little elves were busy assembling the boxes. There are still items coming in to her and to the Rez so the elves work will not be completed until she arrives on the Rez. Theresa has been putting aside the boxes you sent, but does dip into them if a child or an adult has a need.
As you can see from the photos, Santa’s workshop received books, puzzles, school supplies, dolls, stuffed animals, cars, games,hats, blankets, mittens etc. My co-worker, Janet, on Sew For Kids and her husband Dave, headed to Gloria’s yesterday, loaded down with goodies in their van that she and members of her family and community have been collecting over the year. Since they do not live too far from Gloria’s , this was a great opportunity to send items to the Rez and save on the mailing costs. Janet and her sister- in -law Ruth also bought large containers of canned food so that Jerome and Theresa can use it to feed the men, for events etc and to feed those who might come knocking on the door. A continual soup cooking on the stove is a common site in many homes, maybe not too nourishing but sure hits the spot when you are hungry and cold.
While we will not be there to see the kids enjoying the Christmas party we will be getting photos of the event and will be sharing all with you. Last year’s event was so much fun, starting with the first ever Parade of Lights on the Rez , then Santa’s arrival, followed by the distribution of gifts and lastly a good meal. A cute incident that happened while the kids were lined up to see Santa, made me chuckle. One of the kids who had already visited with Santa, got out of line, opened his present then started to bud into the line again. Jerome asked him why he was doing that. He said” I just got to let Santa know that he gave me exactly what I wanted -a dinosaur”. He was one very happy camper and a true believer in Santa Claus.
The party will take place in the Kennedy Hall. Again this year, Theresa and Jerome will get a crew of people on the Rez to help cut down and put up the Christmas tree, decorate the hall and make the food which will be on the truck when Gloria heads to the Rez the second week of December. Last year everyone got a meal and everyone got a bag lunch to take home with them so they would have another meal they could depend upon. With the food a big issue this year, any extra food they can get will be a welcome gift.
So you can see from past events that there is lots of work ahead in the next month. With volunteers on and off the Rez, working hard to make this event happen, this turns out to be a fun and memorable day for all. Sew For Kids thanks all of you for your support. And we also want to thank Jerome and Theresa High Horse who organize the event and make it happen.
I was lucky to catch Jerome last night as he and Theresa drove into their driveway. I usually talk to him for about an hour to catch up on the issues that they are dealing with currently.
This past week a donor offered to donate $5000 to buy a storage container so that the High Horses would be able to store items that they receive that are not seasonal( clothing, garden tools, special occasion decorations and supplies), food pantry items, diapers, toiletries, TP etc), allow them to have items on hand when an emergency happens such as this past week when a family’s home burnt to the ground and the family was left with nothing,( some of the items sent in by the group helped) and also will allow them to let us know items and sizes they are low in because shelves will be built inside and items stored by size and season.
The items do not stay long in the current basement storage area, but having some things on hand does help out when a need arises, especially since heading off to a store is not as simple as traveling a few miles away, 2 plus hours is more like it and unlikely if winter weather has set in. The High Horses do not mind using the basement but Theresa would like to be able to use it for a sewing room, where women and girls can come together to sew, learn and to build community and make items to sell or for their families.The Kennedy Hall can be used but the cost is $50 per session for rental (to help pay the heating costs and upkeep) and that is not something that many have money to help with as they have their own bills to pay, so hopefully this will happen. The High Horses found a sponsor for the Kennedy Hall cost for the holidays like Christmas,Thanksgiving etc but the individual can not afford to do it for every weekly event.
Last weekend the High Horses showed a movie to the kids. Although it is cold outside, the movie was shown outdoors under a tarpaulin, the outdoor wall of the High Horse house was used as the screen, the sound system , DVD player etc, thanks to a donor, was set up on a table and the people brought blankets to sit on and to keep warm, snuggling together to retain heat. Remember those drive- ins we all endured in our youth! Once it gets really cold they will move into the Kennedy Hall and hope to have movie and game nights. If you have DVDs or games you are no longer using, they would gladly put them to good use for this program. They buy the DVDs at Walmart for $5 when they can but not sure of the quality. Kids need things to keep them busy and out of trouble so that is why the High Horses are interested in these events. Movie theaters are miles away and not affordable, so for the kids this is such a treat, even the adults come. And again it helps build community.
Theresa and Jerome, to keep with the theater atmosphere, serve popcorn(the machine donated by the police dept) and to warm the soul, coffee and hot chocolate from packets sent in by people like you and from purchases they pick up from the Dollar Tree. Just add water packets are fine. Jerome and Theresa can not pay for all the popcorn and hot chocolate if they are going to try and do this weekly or whenever they have the funds so when you send a box to the High Horses, if you happen to be in a place where you can buy a package, slip it into that unused spot in the box. Items needed are popcorn kernels, oil, salt, small bags and cocoa. Anyone got a homemade recipe they like using dry milk powder, cocoa and low sugar or a place to get good deals on coffee and hot chocolate? Love to get protein into kids with the milk powder. Any help with this is appreciated.
The High Horses are looking at ways to earn money for such events or for providing food and drink for the youth horse rides. Renting a space, then renting booths to people who can sell their wares, is a possibility but nothing definite has been decided. Suggestions are welcome.
Donations keep arriving and the High Horses who keep a record of every donation that comes in, said that new people, even as far away as Australia, have been sending boxes their way, which pleases them no end. Its like Christmas at their house daily. Nurse Debbie came this past week to visit with the High Horses and to pick up items sent in for the babies and toddlers at the clinic. She was very excited and is amazed at what she receives and the talent in the group.
The donations have also had a positive effect on keeping the Wanblee post office,(which was slated for closure) open, as people are kept so busy processing the items that come in. The area does not need any more closures as that means less jobs and more issues with hunger etc. And the High Horses have become friends with the UPS and the Fedex drivers who frequent their home and even invite them in for coffee if time allows. So you have helped the community in another way, at least for now.
Gloria is now putting together the Christmas boxes and is pleased with what came in, as mentioned last week. She again said to tell you “Thanks” . And I just found out that Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, the 501c3 we work under, has managed to come up with 400 Christmas stockings, all sewn by the Director’s mom. A big thanks to Troy’s mom for this effort. Donors sent in items to fill them and those stockings will cover the teenage group as well. So they should be in good shape if 700 people show up again this year.
Last year’s Santa is coming back again. He is an old biking buddy of Jerome. The kids believe he is the real Santa when they see him with his long white hair, his long white beard( which was pulled several times last year to test out if it was real), his large paunch and that cheery HO !HO ! HO! that echoes throughout the room. Jerome and he laugh about the paunch which has been years in the making ! The kids liked him so much last year that he had to return. And the Parade of Lights will once again take place.
Daily the High Horses are reminded of the hunger issues on the Rez. The kids knock on the High Horses door and ask if they can “borrow “a sandwich which makes them chuckle. Or people will call and ask if they have any Indian steak to spare, which is bologna. Every week Theresa tries to feed certain kids from the school an afternoon snack as she knows they will not get dinner that night or need those extra calories to fatten them up a bit. And every weekend, a few elders call and they prepare a box lunch for them, most likely these calls will increase as the elder lunch program shut down, at least for now. Any little can of tuna, chicken, a container of peanut butter etc are great things to add to a box heading to the Rez.
Winter is a hard time for all on the Rez and even in our own communities, but in most cases, social services are more numerous in our areas. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit is in need of donations for the winter assistance heat drive. I know you all send boxes and know that that adds up but if all the current people who like our site can spare $5( hit up 5 family members, friends or coworkers for a $1 donation and explain how that will help our Native American friends), then that money
can be used to fill 8-10 propane tanks and keep those families warm for close to a month,
can be used to repair saws, purchase a few new saw blades or provide the fuel to run them so the men who volunteer their time, can cut and deliver a load of wood to a family who heats and cooks with a wood stove
will allow the lights to stay on for those who will soon lose them, if the utilities are not paid.
Each family is only helped once per year with wood, or propane or utilities through Heart’s winter heating program. Whatever help you can give to the program is appreciated. Please state how you want the donation used. Donations can be made via paypal on their site or for those who write checks, the address is
Hearts of the Sacred Spirit
2406 Waters Edge Drive,
Newark , DE.19702
And of course all the items you have all recently sent in are already making a difference to those recipients. For that, Sew For Kids is grateful, for without our supporters there would be no program. Thank YOU!