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!
Can it be that November is here already and what happened to October? Well that means it’s getting colder on the Rez so our project for the month is warm accessories; hats, mittens, gloves, scarves, socks, slippers, quilts, afghans and anything else that can keep a body warm.Time to get those hooks and needles flying, sewing machines buzzing and purging your family’s closets for things that will keep our Rez kids and their families warm. For some of you I know they are always in working mode! Winter is always a concern if you live in a harsh climate but for those that live in poverty it can be downright brutal. Although kids are our main focus here, we’re also concerned this year about the elders, the disabled and those that are ill because of all the government cuts to programs they depend on. They will certainly have a difficult time this winter staying warm and getting enough nutritious food to eat. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit is raising funds for their winter heating program so we’re asking everyone, if you can, to please make a donation (no amount is too small) to help keep our Rez families warm this winter.
We did get a head start on warm items as the Christmas boxes for the children will have hats and mittens in them that many of you made or are still in the process of making, myself included. Gloria says they’re packing those boxes up mid November so they can see what’s still needed. They’ll be accepting donations through the end of the month but earlier is definitely better when you’re trying to assemble 250 gift boxes! Hopefully we’ll get a picture of the packing to share with you. Any late shipments can be sent directly to Jerome and Theresa. In addition to the Christmas gifts, Gloria and her group are collecting winter coats, warm clothing and blankets to take along so if you have any of those items include them in your box. Janet lives within driving distance of Gloria and plans to take a truck load of winter coats and warm clothing she and her SIL have been collecting all year. Gloria and Lisa will be renting a Uhaul, size dependent upon what they receive, to deliver all the donations to Wanblee. For those of you still shopping she did say they are short on things for boys ages 3-12. She sent this note along for you…………….. “I have to say again, THANK YOU SO MUCH. This is such a wonderful experience to have packages coming from all over the United States to help the Lakota children. I do send thank you cards to each person as the packages come in so they know it was received but that alone does not convey the appreciation for all the caring people. Gloria”
Last year’s Christmas party was planned for around 500 people but more than 700 attended, we’re thinking the same thing will probably happen this year so anything you want to send will be greatly appreciated. People come to get a good meal and a gift for their children as most families are just squeaking by and have no extra money for gifts. It hurts parents to know they can’t afford even a small gift for their child at Christmas, bless all of you with your BIG HEARTS that help put a smile on those little faces!
Speaking of parties the Halloween party was a huge success with over 400 people attending. With all your donations ($340 raised) Jerome and Theresa were able to feed everyone! The kids asked for a “zombie walk” around the building before they went in and a few were given prizes for their costumes. They had 5-6 different game booths with prizes for the winners and door prizes, thanks to all of you that sent Halloween goodies. A special thanks goes out to Richard (husband of Anne Fields) and his foundation for donating movie equipment and a sound system, through their generosity kids can now look forward to “movie nights”! Jerome used the sound system to hook up a microphone which saved his voice as emcee of the Halloween party. We will get photos of the party for you but Jerome’s ISP requires downloading pictures one at a time which takes time he doesn’t have right now so stay tuned for those. Thanks to everyone who helped the kids have a nutritious meal and a fun day. Even grandmas participated in the cake walk!
Back to the November project, we’ll be knitting, crocheting, sewing or purchasing warm accessories, clothing and blankets. Remember those days as a child getting all bundled up to go outside and play in the snow, sometimes having so many clothes on you couldn’t move? Well children on the Rez are no different, they love to go outside and play too but their “bundling up” consists of a sweater or sweatshirt and some old socks for mittens which means playtime is cut short because of frozen hands and feet. Help us bundle these kids up so they can play outside which gets them get the exercise they need to help keep their weight down and prevent diabetes. Many of the men that volunteer with Jerome to cut and haul wood for families need bundling up too. Theresa said when they first started the wood program workers showed up wearing a sweater with no gloves and tennis shoes, they ended up working for a short time and then going home. Since they’ve been receiving all your warm donations, many more volunteers now show up which makes the workload lighter for everyone. Payment comes in the form of a good home cooked meal from Theresa at the end of the workday. Warm donations for the men are always needed as wood cutting is hard work and especially tough on gloves, socks and coats and need to be replaced yearly. These same men also deliver the wood and sometimes food to families in need. In addition to the warm items they also need saw blades, oil, etc. to keep the equipment going, if you would like to help with that make a donation to Hearts of the Sacred Spirit and state how you want your monies directed.
Elders, many sickly, who venture out for medical appointments and have to sit in cold vans, need warm things to wear. Either Theresa and Jerome deliver the items to hungry elders who call for food assistance or hear thru the moccasin trail about an elder living in a cold home without warm blankets or clothing. Nurse Debbie will deliver items to elders when she does her weekly visits if she notes a need in the home at the previous visit.
Babies living in poorly heated homes need warm clothing and blankets which is why we make all those warm things for Debbie to give out to new mothers. She gives out whatever warm things she has to the older children too, at the WIC office where she works, which encourages parents to show up for their check ups and vaccinations. Last year Standing Rock Reservation was in such dire need of warm clothing for their kids that a plea came to the High Horse’s who made an emergency trip there to deliver what they had. Many of the kids at Crazy Horse school are being bused over from Rosebud Reservation so many of those families have heard of the work the High Horse’s are doing and give them calls for help. Sometimes they’ll get a call from the school asking if they have anything for students that come poorly dressed for the cold. Everywhere you turn on the Rez someone is in need of a coat, a pair of mittens or a hat to keep them warm. Whatever you send will find a grateful recipient!
So let’s join together and see how many of these winter needs we can supply …………Mittens, hats, gloves, scarves, sweaters, hoodies, coats, any clothing suitable for winter, socks, boots or waterproof shoes, warm sleepsacks, nylon jackets for a windbreak layer, warm PJs, slippers, and blankets of all sizes. Enlist your friends, family, co-workers, churches, social groups, etc. to put a box together for the Rez. At this time I especially want to thank Nancy Bishop Ward who is running a coat drive in her local area of the US, to Amy Gilpin who ran a warm drive in Canada, and to Janet Schnurlein and her sister -in- law Ruth Gruel who have acquired 100+ coats over this past summer at garage sales and resale shops .
Please share photos of projects you’re working on or warm things you’re collecting and any favorite patterns you like to make. Let us know what you’re sending so we can inspire others and work on any shortages of items or sizes. Thanks again to all our dedicated followers. Together we can make a difference!!
And please remember the kids and needy in your communities and make a few things for them as well. They will appreciate it!
First the good news……Gloria in Wisconsin is starting to receive donations for the kid’s Christmas boxes and is really excited about what’s come in so far. We have until November 10th (although November 1st is preferable) to get things to her. If you absolutely need to ship after that your donation will still be accepted but Gloria and Lisa are heading to the Rez in early December and they have a lot of work to do before then. They need to sort everything, compile the individual boxes and then purchase things that weren’t donated. We’re hoping most things will be donated by SFK and other groups so they won’t have to purchase a lot which frees up funds to be used elsewhere. Food for the Christmas party will be provided by Worldwide Hunger Relief based in Wisconsin, the menu is homemade soup, sandwiches and a dessert.
The Halloween party is definitely a go, made possible through your monetary donations for the food and all the goodies you’ve sent, some of which will be used for prizes. Most of the Halloween parties our kids attend serve only snacks and drinks, but on the Rez kids rarely get a good meal so Jerome and Theresa felt this was a good opportunity to fill them up with some nourishing food. The day will also provide some fun activities for the kids like cake walks, a haunted house, etc. Kids mainly go to school to learn but on the Rez, school is also a place that provides them with food, especially important on Monday’s as they probably haven’t had much to eat all weekend at home and Friday’s when that may be the last full meal they get until the school week starts again. For many kids there won’t be another meal waiting for them once they return home, they’ll have to wait until breakfast is served at school the next morning to eat. In this country of plenty no child should have to skip a meal because there’s nothing to eat, but this is one of the harsh realities of Rez life. Schools are worried about maintaining the food program and with all the cuts Washington has made to education they have good reason to be concerned. Crazy Horse school in Wanblee should have around 500 students but due to all the cuts they only have 200 as they simply don’t have the resources to teach all the grades so kids are being bused to area schools, some of them off the Rez.
Speaking of food, I asked Jerome the other day how the garden went this year and he said they had some losses after a hail storm but were still able to grow enough corn, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and beets to make up some produce bags for families in need. There are plans for expansion next year and hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate. They would love to start raising chickens but need the housing, feed, fencing, etc., plans are in the works to see if this can become a reality. Raising their own eggs would be a great way to add some high quality protein to their diets, a dozen eggs costs between $3 and $4 locally, which is expensive, but most don’t have the funds for gas or the transportation to make the 2 hour plus drive to buy them for $1 at the big box stores. There’s lots of grassland there for chickens to forage on and this could also be an ideal way to prepare a plot for a new garden, plus chickens “make” lots of high nitrogen fertilizer. One of Hearts of the Sacred Spirit’s programs is supporting sustainable food practices and they were able to help with the garden this year by providing the fencing, tools and seeds, hopefully enough donations will come in next spring so they can start raising chickens. None of their programs would be possible without your generous donations, please donate if and when you can, no amount is too small.
Now the bad news….. The early October snow storm left 100,000 head of cattle and many horses dead across the Dakotas. Ranchers with losses OFF the Rez will be compensated but not so ON the Rez! Jerome says a non-profit has been formed to encourage farmers and ranchers across the nation to donate animals to them so ranchers on the Rez can begin to rebuild their herds.
The daycare programs are slated to close October 30th, leaving workers unemployed and struggling to feed their families and keep them warm this winter and leaving families who use their services without childcare for their kids while they work or try to better their future by attending college. Older kids also used the service showing up after school and waiting to be picked up after their parents returned from work. Daycare is a subsidy program and funds have been cut so there’s no money to keep it going, January of 2014 will determine if Washington will provide the funding so they can reopen.
Not only are the daycares closing but the lunch food program for elders is being closed as well. For many this was the only meal they would receive all day, a lot of elders are raising grandchildren and some have been known to save their lunch and give it to the kids instead of eating it themselves. With government cuts in general assistance monies, checks are gone leaving the elders with no income and now no food. Also a concern is a possible cut to the commodity program which is another subsidy program. Commodities were stopped during the govt shutdown.Those that don’t qualify for food stamps can use this program which provides some food for at least a few weeks out of the month.
Suicide prevention program( Sweetgrass) on the Rez has already closed as the funding was not renewed. These programs are crucial to troubled kids, giving them hope for the future, teaching other ways to deal with problems and showing them they are valued human beings with a purpose and that ending their lives isn’t an option. Some folks know how important this program is to the youth and have kept it going in spite of the cuts, even going without pay. Since SFK, Hearts and many others have been helping Jerome and Theresa with activities for the kids, there hasn’t been a single suicide in Wanblee. Activities like movie nights, sewing circles, holiday parties, picnics, etc. give kids hope and that there are people out there who care about them and their future.
Another service that’s suffering is the ambulance service which was started many years ago by Theresa’s parents in a converted station wagon. Theresa’s mother still helps with the laundry and she’s in her late 80s, her father moved on to the Spirit world a few years ago. It’s since been upgraded of course and many locals still take the EMT courses and volunteer to help. Theresa said while they have the basics like resuscitation equipment and gurneys, they desperately need medical tape in 2 and 4 inch sizes, Celox, Arm Slings, Nasal Cannulae, ABD Pads, Hot Packs, Cold Packs, Ace Wraps, ACCU CHEK test strips, lancets, adhesive bandages, and any type of cleaning supplies. If you know of anyone in the medical supply business or where we can get these items at cost, or better yet a free donation, please let us know. Any donations are considered a charitable donation through Hearts and is completely tax deductible. Please help if you can, I’ve donated towels and coffee for the ambulance workers in the past. Each area of the Rez definitely needs a functional ambulance service.
And if all that wasn’t enough grief for the Rez, winter will be here before heating programs such as LIHEAP get any funding or maybe not off the ground until the January 2014 government session, so there may not be any heating assistance for families through the tribe until then. This means families will have to keep the heat on low and conserve, hard to do when you’re cold and live in a poorly insulated home with ill fitting or missing windows and doors. Your donations of warm clothing and blankets and monetary contributions to Hearts Winter Warmth Program will help families stay warm this winter. Hearts will do some home winterizing, buy wood stoves for those that need one and help other families with one time assistance of wood or propane if funds are available. Your donations to Hearts will help purchase food and keep the heat on this winter, please note your donation is for the Winter Heating Assistance Program.
Such is life on the Rez, seems they are always taking one step forward and two back. Hang in there with us everyone, it will take many of us together doing whatever we can to help our friends that have been so adversely affected by all the government cuts. We’re so thankful for all you do to help make life a little easier for kids and their families on the Rez. Keep working on those Christmas donations, Happy Halloween to all those ghosts and goblins out there. BOO to you too!
As promised, Janet who works with me on the Sew For Kids site, volunteered to share her thoughts about her recent July visit to Wanblee , SD . Janet may not say much on the site but she works tirelessly behind the scenes, checking the blogs, and advocating and procuring items for the needs of the children we help. Thanks Janet for sharing your visit with us and for all the work you do for our cause.
“Throughout the many blog postings here on SFK you’ve heard us speak many times of Jerome and Theresa High Horse, the couple we primarily work with in Wanblee on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. A dream was fulfilled this past July when we (myself, husband Dave, SIL Ruth and BIL John) had the opportunity to finally meet the High Horse’s when we stopped at their home on our way to Glacier National Park in Montana. We had our two vehicles loaded to the top with clothing, tools, bedding, a sewing machine, household items and school supplies we’ve been gathering for months. We’ve planned to visit the Rez for many years but something always seemed to come up and thwart our plans so the dream was eventually moved to our “bucket list”. This year however was different, everything just fell magically into place and we were finally able to make the trip.
To say Wanblee is remote would be an understatement and this coming from someone who lives 7 miles from the nearest grocery store or gas station and has very few neighbors. I suppose the thing you notice most having come from the Midwest is the absence of trees and the vast expanses of rolling grasslands. I guess some would find it desolate but our group found it to be beautiful, almost spiritual as you imagined what it must have been like before the Europeans arrived, teaming with buffalo and Lakota villages filled with people going about their daily lives. There’s something about Pine Ridge that gets under your skin and makes you not want to leave, it’s a place you can’t forget.
We arrived at Jerome and Theresa’s to find a flurry of activity underway….. a group of young volunteers were hammering and sawing away putting the finishing touches on Roland’s house, preparations were under way in the back yard (including erecting a teepee) for the wedding of Jerome and Theresa’s daughter that weekend, Theresa was attending to details everywhere and making sure the work staff were fed and Jerome was supervising the crew and preparing to take a visitor to a Sundance that evening. Let me tell you the High Horse residence is one busy place! All this activity going on and Jerome and Theresa stopped what they were doing and warmly greeted us with a smile and a hug and invited us to “come on in and sit down”! Well we felt a little guilty disrupting things but couldn’t help ourselves as we had waited so long to meet them and they were so warm and gracious we just couldn’t resist.
For the next couple of hours we were mesmerized by Jerome as he spoke on a broad range of subjects including sundances, his native religion and customs, the community they work so hard to help, the past and persistent prejudices they still deal with every day, their family and their enduring faith and hope for the future. He expressed almost disbelief at the amount of help they’ve been getting from everyone. They moved back to the Rez a few years ago to help their community pretty much on their own never thinking there would be anyone else that wanted to help. They are so grateful for all the generous donations from everyone, they now have the resources to help so many more families.
While we were there one of their grandson’s had a dog he was hoping to persuade his mother to let him bring home. Theresa explained to us Jerome had rescued the dog earlier that day when someone was going to shoot the poor thing because he was just a stray. They had received a call earlier that day from a couple that needed help to stay in a Rapid city hotel because their family member had just been taken to the hospital and they wanted to be near them. Earlier that week Judy C. had sent a really nice afghan and it was already in the hands of a very grateful elder, diapers had also arrived and they too were gone in a matter of hours. Jerome was talking about these big fleece mitts someone made and how the woodcutters loved them, I told him they were made by one of our volunteers from Wisconsin, Beulah, who wanted me to convey her greetings and best wishes for the work they are doing and how she hopes to visit someday soon. One of the young volunteers came in the house for a break and gave Jerome a big bear hug and she told us he filled the role of her father while being away from home, you can tell right away how much the kids love Jerome and Theresa. Jerome was going to Crazy Horse school, where they were staying, to give a talk about the Lakota culture later that evening. We wondered how they were able to fit it all in and still eat and sleep. I’m sure this was just a normal day for them but it seemed so extraordinary to us.
Not one of us wanted to leave, we could’ve stayed there the rest of the night taking it all in, but we still had a 90 mile drive to make to visit the elder I sponsor in Pine Ridge. Although we had a vacation to Glacier ahead of us everyone knew the best part of our vacation had already occurred. Theresa and Jerome were just as we thought they would be, but when you meet them in person and see their commitment and dedication to all those in need, well it’s just humbling and we all felt we were in the presence of “angels on earth”. We’re honored to call them friends.
Your donations are going to the right place with Jerome and Theresa, they’re getting them into the hands of people that truly need help. We will continue to do what we can, it might not drastically change anyone’s life but it can certainly make it a little easier. We encourage you to visit if you can, it’s a trip you won’t soon forget.” Janet
Believe it or not Christmas is rapidly approaching and kids on the Rez, just like the kids in your families, are anticipating it’s arrival with excitement. Many stores have had their Christmas displays up since the beginning of September so it’s not too early for our Sew For Kids members to start working on projects for the Christmas party. This year’s party will once again be hosted by Theresa and Jerome High Horse, with plenty of help from community members, and held on December 14th at the Kennedy Hall. We’re still waiting to hear if the Parade of Lights is on the list of events, this would be the second year for that parade.
This year SFK is joining up with Gloria Klomsten and Lisa Morris who work alongside Karl Ralian, Director of Worldwide Hunger Relief based in Wisconsin. Lisa and Gloria’s group provides some of the daily essentials for folks in the Wanblee area while Karl provides food for the area 3- 4 times a year and will provide the Christmas party dinner this year.
Gloria and Lisa visited the Rez this past summer to attend the July 4th party and while there talked with Theresa High Horse about plans for the Christmas party this year. They came up with the idea of a gift box for children in two age groups, 3-7 and 8-12, and estimated they would need a total of about 250 boxes. This is just a guesstimate and Theresa really couldn’t give any numbers of how many in each age group would show up or how many boys or girls there would be. Hopefully next year we can get parents to sign their children up if they plan to attend the party giving us a little more information to work with, in the meantime we’ll just have to do the best we can. Last year 700 people showed up with no more than 500 expected so it’s hard to plan parties on the Rez. Wanblee hosted the first Parade of Lights last year and people who heard about it showed up from other parts of the Reservation.
Gloria and Lisa have approached church groups and other groups, such as ours, to join with them and help them achieve this goal. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit (501c3 we work under) usually does a Christmas drive so am sure if they do it again they will help with the project as well. SFK really likes to work with other groups on projects as most people are on a limited budget these days and if we all work together much more can be accomplished.
This is a note from Gloria with a list of things they hope to put in the boxes.
CHRISTMAS GIFT BOX
WANBLEE COMMUNITY CHILDREN
PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION
14”x10”x6” boxes (already donated) will be packed with small gift items for 250 children in the Wanblee Community, Pine Ridge Reservation.
2 pair warm socks (Ages 3-7 child med/large, ages 8-12 sm/med adult size)
Mittens and hat (children sizes and small adult size)
1 reading book for ages 5-12. Picture books for ages 3 & 4.
Activity books, puzzles, craft items, sketch pads, etc.
Small notebooks, pencils with sharpeners, stickers, tattoos, crayons, scissors, etc.
Inexpensive toys-$10 price range possibly-card games, rubik’s cube, beanie babies. No cowboys & Indians.
No violent items (toy guns, etc or electronic toys or video games).
Thank you for any contributions made towards the project. Gloria “
Gloria and Lisa, along with many volunteers, plan to assemble the boxes in Wisconsin and the ladies will then deliver them to the Rez by truck early December for the party on the 14th. They decided this would be best for everyone as Theresa usually has so many things to do for the party and there simply isn’t enough room to store all those boxes at the High Horse’s.
Please join in on the fun and help the kids have a brighter Christmas this year. Recruit friends, family, co-workers, organizations or church groups to help you fill a box or two. Send items on the list from websites that offer free shipping like Amazon, Dollar General, etc. Make mittens and hats if you knit or crochet. Send a monetary donation if you prefer, any amount gratefully accepted. Monetary contributions for transportation costs are also welcome. These can be done in the form of Visa/MasterCard gift cards or checks made payable to Redeemer UCC church.
Contact me here for where to send in your donation. Thank you.
Gloria would like all donations to arrive by November 1st but will accept items until the 10th. Having put together 200 children’s gift boxes for Habitat for Humanity when I chaired the Family Committee, I can attest to the amount of work and time it takes to do a project of this size. Let us know here or on our Facebook page if you can help and what you may be sending so we can give Gloria an idea of what may be coming in.Take pictures of your donations and send to us so we can share with and inspire others.
Santa will once again be on the Rez handing out gifts, please help us stuff Santa’s bag to overflowing with gifts for children who without our help probably won’t be receiving anything for Christmas. We’ll be posting ideas and free patterns throughout October for things to make for the boxes, if you have a favorite pattern please share with us. Thanks for all you do for the Rez children!
Its been a crazy week around here but I did manage to get some sewing done. Although we’re supposed to be working on warm clothing for school and the approaching winter, after my call to Nurse Debbie in Wanblee, I felt the need to make some things for the babies as she’s low on many items for her diaper bags as well as the diaper bags.
This week I put the final touches on 2 warm knitted blankets I was working on and have almost completed a third. Beulah L, Marilyn B, Tamie and Pat T sent off crocheted afghans, blankets and quilts so that should take care of blankets for the new arrivals for the next couple of months. However this is an ongoing need and there are never enough blankets on the Rez for anyone. Beulah also sent 10 denim diaper bags she made which will help for this month, again another need that is never quite filled. Liesel W made some knitted baby hats and sweaters as did Tamie. Sherry is working on some baby sweaters as are the Halfknits and I. Carol M. sent washable nursing pads she made which will help out those breastfeeding mothers, Nancy B whipped up some burp pads and washcloths, Jan E sent off a box of boys clothing, and Janet S is sending a box of baby clothing that contain items such as PJs, onsies, clothes and sleepsacks with an emphasis on warm, that she’s been collecting on her latest garage sale outings. Great job ladies!!. That covers most of the basic stuff in the diaper bag and should help Debbie get some needed items to the moms over the next few months before we do our next formal drive. I knew we could rely on our supporters to come thru and help an immediate need.
Sleepsacks are especially needed as the risk of SIDS is significantly higher on the Rez. A sleepsack is basically a wearable blanket that zips/snaps up and allows clothing to be worn underneath for added warmth. This works pretty well in the summer but in the poorly heated homes on the Rez blankets are still needed in the winter. WIC is providing Pack and Play’s now for women that come in for assistance along with instructions on how to properly put a baby to bed with a blanket and other tips on preventing SIDS. Unfortunately many babies are still sleeping in their parent’s bed which is risky as adults may roll over on an infant and still others are left sleeping in car seats which allows their head to drop forward which might impair their ability to breath. Since the crib only comes with one mattress cover will be making some in the future as soon as we get the size of the mattress . Will share the measurement and patterns to use once I have it.
I have been trying to make some of the items that Debbie does not get often. I made 4 changing pads using a pattern from Lotta Jansdotter’s book. It’s nice to have a clean place to change babies and also protect beds and sofas where most babies are diapered. And they are easily washed and thrown in a diaper bag. If you’d like to try your hand at making one check out our free pattern page here or search the web where there are literally hundreds of patterns.
Receiving blankets are always needed and I decided to try a new pattern found here and then finished another one using scraps from my stash. Since cold weather is nearly here, I made them with two layers for extra warmth. Although we are only adding 2 to a diaper bag, many baby sites recommend a layette have 6 as some days in those first 6 months , babies go thru many.
I made some small bibs from scraps I had of flannel and cotton fabric to help keep the front of the outfits clean. I basically traced a store bought bib of my daughter’s and made a pattern. Bibs can be knitted and crocheted as well. There are lots of patterns on the web for bibs.
Also finished were some swaddlers made from 2 layers of flannel for the outside part and used a piece of fleece for the inside pouch. Babies love to be swaddled during the first few months, this contains their flailing arms which keeps them from waking resulting in more sleep for everyone! The pattern I used is here. I like the ready made swaddlers but they cost a lot more and there’s a concern they put the baby in a position that can lead to hip issues from being too tightly bound. This pattern was simple, quick and also allowed more leg room and can be used without the arms tucked in as the baby ages for warmth.
Towels and washcloths are always in demand and since I have lots of toweling in my stash I decided to experiment with a couple of patterns. Both were easy enough to make but I also wanted a project that used bias tape so I could practice and perfect my skills. I think bias tape really adds character to a project and looks so professional. The Purl Bee (love their site) pattern made a double layered towel with hood using stretch terry and a woven cotton fabric for the reverse side. I machine stitched some random rows to help keep the layers together and made two washcloths to match. I also made a hooded towel from a single layer of stretch terry cloth and bound it with bias tape and have decided to use this method for future projects. Make bias tape from scrap fabric for a colorful border. If I find good used (still looking for a good thrift store in CA) or new ready made bath and hand towels will use the fast and easy pattern from the Prudent Baby site. Free patterns are on our site and there are plenty more across the web for baby towels. A simple square (32 to 40 inches) made from terry without a hood with serged edges or a 1/4 inch double hem are acceptable as well. Or you can just buy a towel and send as is.
I’ve been cutting out projects like mad and have several diaper bags, quilts and nursing pillows that need assembling which I hope to get to this coming week. Sleepers and onesies would be great for the babies if you happen to be making the rounds at garage sales or thrifting this week or if you’re really adventurous, sewing some! Let us know what you’re crafting for the babies.
Also when you are sending items to the High Horses for Debbie, the nurse, please address the box to Nurse Debbie (c/o) the High Horses. Please include your email or a SASE. This way the box can go directly to Debbie. If you have items for both add a note and bag the items for Debbie inside that box. Thank you.
In other news, Hearts of the Sacred Spirit (the 501 SFK operates under) was chosen as one of the best charities of the year 2013 by the Great Non Profits organization. Congratulations, way to go Hearts!!
They’ve begun their winter heating and warm weather clothing program. Donations of any amount can be made to this very important program here. Many of us helping together will give Hearts the needed funds to keep families warm this winter. The Hearts heating program gives assistance once a year for each household needing help and hopefully the tribe will come through with funding from the LIHEAP program for future needs. Cuts have already been made in the LIHEAP program across the US so we can expect the same holds true for the Rez.
Hearts of the Sacred Spirit will soon start a scholarship program that will enable students who want to go to community college to do so. You can read about it on their site.
Sew For Kids will be working on warm items thru the months of November and December as our monthly projects. Amy G, one of our supporters in Canada, is hosting a winter drive for families on the Rez. Be on the lookout for warm clothing and outerwear on your travels or as you go through your own or your kids closets. All knitters and crocheters, those little hands, heads and feet really need your help keeping warm this winter. If you’re like me you probably have several projects going on at once so you can be working on multiple drives at the same time.
Stay tuned for the October project. Until then keep up the good work and thanks for all you do for the Rez.
School supplies, pencil pouches, clothing, socks, underwear, and shoes have been arriving on the Rez. While there will always be children in need, Theresa and Jerome are delighted with the huge response and sincerely thank everyone for their generous donations. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit held a back to school drive too and sent over 30 filled backpacks for the kids. Since we’re still concentrating on school needs this month please continue to send school supplies (especially pencils), clothing items and shoes. Theresa and Jerome apologize for being behind on thank you notes, they have had illness in the family recently. In addition, this past Sunday Theresa’s sister passed away after a long illness. Our condolences to the family.
It’s not unusual to call Jerome and find out that he’s just returned from attending yet another funeral. Sadly death comes early at Pine Ridge, life expectancy is 48 for men and 52 for women compared with the national average of 76 for men and 81 for women. Things are not getting better in many areas of the Rez because the sequester cuts have impacted social programs there as well as those across the US with sad consequences. Elders, who once relied on a small government assistance check, provided to those with little or no income, have lost that due to the cuts. Hopefully most have family members to help them out but that’s not certain as most families are struggling just to keep the utilities on and their children fed. Native Americans are generous and would feed anyone that was hungry, many homes keep a soup pot simmering on the stove and coffee brewing, but these days that soup is pretty watered down and contains little or no meat. Schools and health programs that deal with both physical and mental health are also coping with funding cuts which impacts almost every family on the Rez.
Rolland’s house is now finished with funding provided from Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, and Nancy Bishop-Ward’s group with final costs coming in around $7000. Volunteers on and off the Rez helped put it together. Hearts also provided funds to put on a new roof for two elderly brothers that were in dire need, thankfully they will spend this fall/winter season without rain and snow blowing in. Other home improvement projects are in the works and will begin as soon as funding becomes available.
Recently a few SFK supporters donated funds to Hearts to purchase a new table saw for Jerome, his was 15 years old and had definitely seen better days. Jerome takes his group of men around the community helping those that need home repairs or other jobs that need a few strong hands. The men receive “payment” in the form of a home cooked meal at the end of the day, provided by Theresa, and the skill and knowledge they receive by working with Jerome. Winter will be here before you know it and soon Jerome and his “Woodchucks” will be busy cleaning out ranchers creeks that are littered with dead tree branches. The wood they cut will be given to local residents which helps supply some of the fuel they’ll need for the winter months. Last year Hearts provided saw blades and oil to keep the saws humming and also bought 7 wood stoves for families in need. I’m sure once October rolls around they will help once again through their heating program. All the warm clothing and blankets our loyal SFK supporters send in each year are greatly appreciated and desperately needed to keep people warm in the harsh climate of SD.
Days are still warm enough on the Rez but night temperatures are dropping. Anne Fields, a good friend and supporter of Hearts, SFK and the High Horses, has arranged for a small non-profit to work with Troy’s group (Hearts of the Sacred Spirit) to get Theresa and Jerome the remaining equipment needed to show movies. Hopefully they’ll be able to start movie nights soon before it gets too cold to sit outside as they’ll be using the side of their house as the “screen”. We’re crossing our fingers that they’ll be able to use the Kennedy Hall this winter to show weekly movies for the community.
The sewing circle has met a few times and all the donations sent in for that program are greatly appreciated. Unfortunately the group has had a couple of setbacks with trouble getting a regular time slot at the Kennedy Hall to meet and most recently with illnesses in the High Horse family. The program is temporarily on hold but will definitely continue when the current situation improves. Theresa would hold the meeting in her basement but she needs to save the space to store the winter and Christmas items that come in. A storage building is needed but funds need to be raised to make it happen.
I recently spoke to nurse Michelle on Rosebud and nurse Debbie in Wanblee for an update on their baby programs. Michelle wants to thank all of you for the wonderful donations sent for their program but asks if we could put a temporary hold on future donations while they re-evaluate their program and try to find someone to take it over full time. She is currently dealing with hospital regulations about donations of certain items which is the same thing Debbie had to deal with on Pine Ridge and the reason SFK sends to the High Horses and Debbie picks up her things from them. They’re also dealing with an increased workload and the few employees they have are doing double and triple duty, the baby program is working but administering the program is taking time they don’t have. Michelle will let us know about the future of their program when a decision has been reached.
Michelle wrote to me that “As for Rosebud news, Rosebud OB/ GYN team has been selected for a Director’s award through all of IHS’s ( Indian Health Service). One member of the team will be selected to go to Washington DC to receive this award. The award is for their work in being baby friendly and breastfeeding! Yay!! We are still averaging around 10-20 births a month. We did have a set of healthy twins born last week who received awesome prenatal care! We continue to try to award mothers who have had good prenatal care, although we also do give away items if a mother is in need.” Michelle
Way to go Rosebud! We’re so glad the word is getting out to expectant women and that they’re coming to the clinic to receive prenatal and postpartum care which benefits both mom and her baby.
Debbie from the Wanblee baby program is as busy as ever and says they’re averaging around 7 births a month. She is also covers the community of Martin, SD. Debbie has been relegated to the basement of the Wanblee Health Clinic as more space was needed and her duties are mainly off site as a public health nurse. Although she does need a place to keep her stuff, she has most of her supplies for home visits and immunization clinics in her car. She can’t see patients in her basement office because of the risk of someone falling down the stairs and the possibility there may be black mold present, which is a common occurrence on the Rez. The office has already been tested and she’s waiting to hear the results from the lab.
Debbie is now seeing her patients at local area WIC offices and is enjoying it very much. She holds weekly immunization clinics there and has gotten referrals from WIC to do breastfeeding counseling for women. Previously Debbie has had a problem getting referrals from the health clinic as the midwife there rarely shared patients names with her. Now with the WIC referrals she can do counseling before delivery, hand out literature and be a resource for women to use should they have questions before or after delivery. Debbie still does her monthly talk to families at Crazy Horse high school where she is also the acting school nurse. October’s subject will be dealing with obesity, it’s consequences and solutions. And if that wasn’t enough to keep her busy she also visits elders and takes care of their health needs in her “spare” time.
When I hooked up with Debbie, she was on her way to do a home visit with a new mother who had recently given birth and has several more visits to make over the next few weeks to new mothers. Her supply of things for diaper bags is getting really low so she really needs our help to build up her supply, please check here for a list of those items. She would also be thrilled if we could send supplies for nursing mothers such as nursing pads, covers and nursing pillows. Some women have been asking for slings or moby wraps as well. Check here for that list. Please send all donations for Debbie to Theresa and Jerome at this address. As soon as your donation arrives Debbie receives a call from the High Horses that she has a box to pick up. If Theresa knows of a baby in need she will use some of the donations as well, word has spread to other parts of the Rez that Theresa and Jerome help those in need.
For those of you able to help with the baby supplies let us know what you’re sending here or on our Facebook page so we know what items are still needed. Also crayons, books, small toys, stickers, etc. can also be used to “reward” kids for coming to the clinic for their immunizations. When sending things for Debbie please state on the package that it’s for her baby program and/or her clinics. We probably need to do another monthly drive to get her supplies adequately stocked but in the meantime she could really use anything we can send.
I’ve finally started sewing again trying to finish projects started before the move. It was really hard to sew and keep a tidy house for prospective buyers so not much was accomplished this summer, although I did finish 3 knitted blankets that will be shipping out soon. Hopefully we’ll soon have a report about Janet’s trip to visit the High Horses in July. In the meantime keep sewing or knitting/crocheting for the babies and children or the elders if you’re so inclined, they all need our help. Thanks for sharing your time and talents.
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted and do apologize but I’m still dealing with moving issues, will it ever end??? We did make it to California and are enjoying the family, the weather and the beach but am not enjoying putting the new home in order. I got rid of loads of “stuff” before leaving Illinois but still have plenty to unpack as I refused to leave without my sewing supplies! Hoping to get the sewing room set up this week so I can get back to work for the next two projects. I’ve tried to keep people informed of monthly projects through our Facebook page and the Sew For Kids Yahoo group, but for those of you not receiving those updates August is “Back to School Supplies” and September will be “Back to School Clothing”. The message has been getting out though as many of you have sent in some wonderful donations for the projects.
School started on the Rez August 19 which is a little earlier than some areas but their school year ends earlier in May. Unfortunately Rez schools this year are dealing with lots of cutbacks, worsened by the sequester, as are the majority of US schools. However, schools on the Rez have fewer resources for the kids and teachers each and every school year, mainly because they get less money per student than do those of other schools across the country. Not having the proper resources to run a classroom makes teaching more difficult which affects the quality of education children are receiving. Rez teachers also don’t receive the salaries that teachers off the Rez get so they can’t afford to take from their own pockets to buy classroom supplies like so many of our dedicated teachers. Lets hear it it for our teachers!
Students are in need of school supplies throughout the year but they especially need them when classes begin so they get off to a good start. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, (the 501c organization we work under) held a school supply drive too through their “Yearning For Learning” project and received many donations as well. Our school supply drive goes until the end of August but supplies are always needed so now is the time to stock up and take advantage of all those sales. Please send your donations to Jerome and Theresa High Horse here, they will make sure your donations get into the hands of needy children.
Kristy from Hopeful Threads and her dedicated crew are making pencil cases for our Rez kids, you can see their project here. If you would like to join them, pencil case patterns are available on https://www.facebook.com/HopefulThreads and also on their Pinterest site http://pinterest.com/hopefulthreads/pouches-purses-bags/ .This group is also sending in school supplies to go along with the pencil cases, check out their Flickr site to see some of their donations. Many thanks to Kristy and ALL the volunteers that sew along with her each month helping kids on the Rez and other people in need through the many projects they work on throughout the year.
Backpacks are always a huge need as they are a more expensive item and most parents don’t have the funds to purchase them for their children. Older children prefer “store bought” bags with bright colors and popular characters on them but younger ones are happy with ones that we can make and they have the added bonus of being washable. Here are a few patterns to use if you wish to make your own, be creative use bright kid prints or make a bag from the ever popular recycled jeans.
Since September is right around the corner we’ve decided to list the needs for that project too which is “Back to School Clothes”. Kids need socks,underwear, long sleeve shirts and T shirts and long pants. Clothing can be made from your favorite pattern or purchased new or gently used from thrift stores or garage sales. Please check out our clothing donation guidelines here before sending used items. We’ll try to get some patterns up for those who like to sew children’s clothing and underwear, socks can be knitted for those of you with that skill. Clothing is mainly sewn for children through sizes 10/12 as older kids are wearing adult clothing. Kids like to go to school properly dressed and some Rez parents will keep their children home until they receive money from their next food check in order to purchase decent clothing. This not only affects the child who starts to fall behind early in his learning but also affects the student count for the year and the funding given to the school not to mention the reduction in funds needed to purchase food for the family. Schools receive a certain amount of funding per child per day from the Dept of Education, if attendance is down the school loses money for each student missing, which means less money to purchase resources for the classroom.
We really want to emphasize the need for socks, underwear and shoes, Jerome said that shoes are “badly needed. Socks and shoes are especially important as colder, wetter weather approaches, as there’s always the risk for frostbite. Most children don’t have boots or warm socks or even a second pair of shoes to change into when theirs becomes wet. Shoes for younger children can be new or in good, used condition but older children really need new shoes or ones that have been barely worn as shoes mold to the wearers foot if they’ve been worn much. Since few own a second pair of shoes on the Rez to change into if theirs become wet , a pair of slippers, which can be knit, sewn or crocheted, or a warm pair of socks can be put in their backpack to put on if they get to school with wet feet. Socks and underwear should be purchased new, there are sales going on now at most of the big box stores along with the deals on school supplies. When sending donations throughout the year we encourage you to add a pair of socks or underwear to your box.
In other Wanblee news, we had a member of Sew For Kids visit Jerome and Theresa last month. Janet, my sidekick that helps with the SFK site, just returned from a trip out West with her spouse and her sister in law and her husband. They stopped in Wanblee on their trip from Indiana to Glacier National Park to drop off items they had for Jerome and Theresa and also took some pictures. They talked to Jerome and Theresa about their community and how we can help them. Janet will share what she learned in a future blog.
Many thanks to all of our volunteers for your continued support of our projects. Every pair of socks, box of crayons or warm sweater you send makes a big difference to a child on the Rez. Everyday items we take for granted are simply not available to most of these children. A new pair of shoes, a nice book bag full of school supplies, a decent outfit of clothing all puts a smile on a child’s face and makes them feel they are special too and that someone cares. Maybe someday we can put a smile on every child’s face going off to their first day of school. Moving cross country has definitely put a damper on the blogging but am hoping things will be returning to a more normal pace and I’ll once again be sharing sewing ideas and pictures. Until then rev up those machines!!
Well this past week here in the Midwest, at least in my neck of the woods, has been sweltering hot though nothing like the Southwest and some of the Pacific regions, but enough for me to put the air conditioner on. I tend to use fans, dress appropriately for the weather and drink lots of fluids but when the humidity is unbearable I use the air. Turning on the air conditioner is not something that happens a lot on the Rez, there are few air conditioners and many survive the entire summer without a fan. Most don’t have the funds for the initial investment and even if they could come up with the money the wiring in many homes is substandard and not able to handle the power load. Most wouldn’t be able to pay the extra costs on their utility bill and would then risk losing their power and other services provided by utility companies. And there is usually no money available from the tribe in the summer months to help with the costs, its long gone before the end of the previous winter.
So— why blankets now while it’s so hot? Well, because protection against the elements is always an issue and while heat can be a killer for the very young, elderly and those that are ill, the winter cold tends to be the bigger threat. Winters are usually brutally cold on the Rez and there is a real risk of death from hypothermia. Many families are living in homes with poor or no insulation, lack of adequate doors and windows and limited funds to pay for propane, wood, or electricity. Add to that lack of proper winter clothing, especially warm coats, gloves and boots and not enough warm blankets for everyone in the household. Because of this, we need to get a head start on making blankets as there are never enough made at the time winter weather strikes. Brrr makes me cold just thinking about it!
We continually need blankets for babies appropriate for the season – receiving blankets, and light blankets for summer; quilts and afghans, wool and fleece blankets for winter. Nurse Debbie takes blankets in her diaper bags to moms of newborns on her 2 week postpartum baby and mom check but she also looks around the home to see needs that aren’t being met for the other kids in the family. She may also have families come to the clinic needing warm items so she likes to have them on hand to hand out to children during their visits. Nurse Michelle on Rosebud only needs baby size blankets appropriate for the season.
This past year we had a request from the Wanblee daycare center for blankets to keep kids warm while they read, play games or watch TV, as the room they use is poorly insulated and cold. They could still use more youth size blankets as they do wear out with continual use by the kids and many trips through the washer and dryer. Many times parents will ask the staff if they have any extra blankets because they don’t have enough for everyone to have one at home.
Lots of families sleep together in the family bed which consists of a large mattress on the floor in one room of the house. This keeps people from sleeping on the floor where drafts coming thru the floorboards is a problem and also helps them stay warm as they huddle together. Warm blankets of any type that fit a double/full or queen bed are needed for them.
Kids who are traumatized whether it be from abuse, a family fire, loss of a loved one, landing in foster care, dealing with health issues, etc. often seek comfort in having something that is theirs and a “security blanket” is one way to help comfort these children. Such is the idea behind the organization “Project Linus”. December is only 6 short months away, blankets make wonderful Christmas gifts too!
Jerome and Theresa get many requests from families that knock on their door or call asking for something to help keep them warm. They can usually provide wood for those with wood burning stoves but can’t always provide funding to all those that call for help with utilities. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit ,which concentrates its efforts in the Wanblee area and on Rosebud Rez, will often help out families with children, elders and people with medical issues, if money is available. In the meantime, having warm blankets to give out, does offer some relief from the cold.
Making a blanket can be a group effort, if you have friends that knit and/or crochet make individual “granny” type squares (few or no holes are warmer) and designate someone as the “joiner” and you can whip up one of the larger size afghans in no time. Use your odd balls of leftover yarn to make the squares, Lakota love color and the more the merrier. The same can be said about making squares for larger quilts. If everyone pitches in a few dollars for shipping the project doesn’t cost anyone a lot of time or money and you get the satisfaction of helping someone in need. Of course you can make your own blankets as I’ve been doing. Would love you to share your photos of items you or a group have made, pattern sites are also welcome. If you have spare sheets, pillowcases or pillows, please include them as well, another thing most people on the Rez don’t have.
Blankets are desperately needed in all sizes, check this size chart for dimensions, we really never know how many to make for the drive but here are some goals for this drive. Simple but functional is all we ask . If you can make the quilt fun for a child, all the better. Let us know what you are able to provide so we reach our goal.
Baby – 40 any type of blanket- 20 for Wanblee- 20 for Rosebud babies
Youth/single bed- 20
Double/full or queen- 10
I’ve been concentrating mostly on knitted blankets as have balls of yarn in my closet begging to be used and have completed 2 with 2 more in progress and finished the bindings on 3 quilts. In a week when my cast comes off and I do not need to use crutches to prevent me from weight bearing on my foot, I will share some photos. My sewing machine heads off to California July 26th so I can’t do much until it arrives and I get myself installed in my new home.
Warmer blankets can be sent starting in September to the High Horses at this address. The blankets will get distributed from there to the various places that need them. Baby blankets, appropriate for the season, are accepted all year long. If they are for nurse Debbie in Wanblee, send to Jerome and Theresa, where she will pick them up and if for nurse Michelle on Rosebud please send here. Storage space (there isn’t any) is a major problem which is why we try not to send too early in the season. Our hope is that in the future, funding will be available to build a storage building so we can send goods as we make/buy them.
Thanks to all of you from Sew For Kids. Happy Needling, no matter which way you choose to make that blanket! If you are unable to help now, we will be making more blankets later in the year.