June Projects

Summer will officially start next week but SFK members have been busy for the past two months sewing or buying dresses, shorts, tops, skirts, swim suits, sun hats and bags to get kids ready for their summer vacation.  If you’re still in the middle of a sewing project don’t worry, kids will continue to need summer clothing when school begins the 3rd week of August or later and until cooler weather takes over sometime in mid October.  Shoes are always a need too, all sizes for all seasons as kids outgrow them so quickly.  For those wishing to work ahead on other projects don’t forget to check our 2019 Monthly Project post.

With garage sales in full swing and thrift stores running clearance sales most of the things on our June project list can be found pretty reasonable.  Shop your own closets or ask family members if they have something to donate, keeping in mind our  donation guidelines.   If you’re traveling this summer don’t forget to save the hotel toiletries for Kimmie to add to the comfort bags she makes for women undergoing exams after sexual abuse.

June  “Bags, Sheets, Towels and a Contest”

  1. School bags/backpacks – Sew/purchase drawstring or other style backpack and pencil cases for school.  Please Send to Emergency Foster Home, Kimmie at the CDC in Martin and Marty Indian School.  We’ll begin purchasing school supplies next month when sales begin and send them later in the year when really needed as most schools do have supplies to start the new year.  We also like to send extra school supplies so teachers can give students supplies to use at home.
  2. Activity Bags – Make or purchase a tote bag, add a book, stuffed animal, coloring book and crayons, journal and pen, drawing pad and colored pencils, etc.  Please send to Kimmie at the CDC office in Martin for children at the shelter and youth center and to the Emergency Foster Home.
  3. Cloth/Tote Bags all sizes – The women’s shelter has an ongoing need for cloth bags, pillowcase size, for clients to use when leaving the shelter, comfort bags for women in crisis and those using the services at the CDC office in Martin.  Diaper bags are needed for all areas except Marty School and Wanblee.  Small drawstring bags are always needed for toiletries and personal care items for clients at the shelter or CDC office.  Regular tote size bags can be used for groceries, swim bags for the pool, books, personal items, etc.
  4. Sheets and Towels – Sheets are always needed at the shelter and foster home, new or gently used in sizes twin, full and queen.  The Rosebud baby program needs sheets for cribs, standard size, and pack ‘n play’s 37.5″L x 25.5″W.  The shelter and Foster Home can always use towels and washcloths and never seem to have enough.  Many clients will take towels with them when leaving the shelter so they constantly need replacing.  Towels can be new or gently used.
  5. Sewing Contest – Make a Christmas gift for a child using scraps from your stash.  Members from Sew For Kids will vote on their favorite project, with a special prize for the winner (to be announced).

We encourage members to start thinking about making Christmas gifts during the summer especially if they’re labor intensive such as quilts or dolls. Having a few gifts finished before fall arrives relieves some of the pressure we all feel trying to fit too many projects into a short amount of time.  This year we’re encouraging you to use scrap fabric, trims, yarn, etc. that are already in your stash to make a gift, scrap projects are certainly economical but they also force us to use our creative talents and the results are usually stunning.  Some ideas – hats, mittens, baby/child sweaters, quilts, stuffed animals, themed bags such as art, tool set, make-up, sewing, first aid kit, etc, games, or anything else your creative minds come up with.  Have fun with the contest and we’ll share all your creative ideas, pictures of your projects, and the winner of course, in an upcoming blog.

Thanks from Sew For Kids, we wish you a safe and happy summer filled with fun, family and friends!

 

Building Libraries Across the Rez , One Book at a Time

 

 

When we were growing up the library was a major part of our young lives, we made our weekly visit exchanging the books we had read  for the next volume of “Nancy Drew” or the “Hardy Boys” or one of the great classic adventure novels.  Technology didn’t exist so books and playing sports with friends was our major form of entertainment over the summer.  Parents encouraged children to read by taking them to the library where everyone would choose books to read for the coming week which began their children’s lifelong love of books.

Although times have changed and technology is everywhere kids on the Rez would still love to have the same access to books as we did growing up.  Unfortunately many school districts have eliminated their libraries and books are only available in individual classrooms thanks to the teachers that knew the value of books and built their own libraries with donations from organizations such as ours and using their own funds.  So for most kids their access to books ends when the school year ends.  The few libraries that do exist on the Rez are out of reach for most kids as they would need transportation to get there to check out a book and then find a way to return it.  In the past there have been summer reading programs with some libraries visiting areas across the Rez where they read to kids and let them choose a book to start their own library.

Most parents are in survival mode struggling to keep food on the table with school out as their children are no longer getting two meals a day provided by the school system.  Some kids attend summer school to work on their skills or finish incomplete classes and some go because it serves as a daycare for working parents and they know they will get something to eat.  Some churches and other organizations visit during the summer bringing books, crafts and activities for the kids.  Many kids on the Rez are 2 or more years behind in their reading skills mainly due to a lack of books and volunteers to read to them and help build their skills.  We believe once kids get bitten by the reading bug they will continue to read and seek out books on their own which is why we want to make them more readily available.

SFK and partner groups like For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation are gradually building libraries in the areas we serve.  SFK member Laurie A, a librarian herself, set up one of our first libraries at the My Space Youth Center in the summer of 2016.  Books and magazines are continually being added by our members keeping the library updated with new reading material for the kids.  Director Kimmie Clausen requires kids to spend time reading and finishing homework before playing games or other activities during the school year.  When she can get away from her office at the CDC Kimmie walks over to the center and reads to the younger children and discusses books the older kids have read.  One of Kimmie’s missions is to get every child reading, she gives them each a book for Christmas, made possible by your donations, and they’re holding a reading program this summer to encourage kids to keep reading so they don’t lose the skills they learned in school.  Summer slide”  is  the tendency for students to lose some academic gains made over the previous school year. It’s not just a theory; kids most at risk can fall two years behind in their reading level by fifth grade, according to the nonprofit Children’s Literacy Initiative.

The Sacred Shawl shelter has an adult and children’s library made possible by the generosity of supporters.  Kimmie encourages women to read to their kids and explains to them why it is so important for their development.  When leaving the shelter children can take a book or two home with them, some of them get attached to a particular story or character.  Reading is great therapy for women trying to forget about the abuses they’ve suffered and can help soothe their soul.  Women using the services at the CDC office are also given books for their children and are encouraged to read to them every day.

Generous members supplied the Martin and Allen Head Start classes with blankets and books this spring and there were so many that kids were able to choose a few books to take home with them to read over the summer.  We will be continuing our support of the Head Start classes this fall and have been asked to help the Wanblee Head Start as well.  Kimmie’s sister works at Oglala Lakota college and says this program was very well received and they’re thrilled it will continue next year.  The Head Start program on the Rez was experiencing a rapid decline under tribal authority but is now under the direction of Oglala Lakota College where it’s becoming a vital program once again.  They can use our help to keep the momentum going!

The Emergency Foster Care Home now has books to read to the kids thanks to donations that have come in from our groups.  They’re hoping to set up a library in the basement and already have a volunteer from Colorado that offered to build shelving and a computer area.  Children can choose books to take with them when leaving the shelter.

Bright Start nurse Mary Mousseau was delighted when our groups began sending books for her babies.  Books aren’t a necessity and not easy to come by if you live in a rural area so are seen as a luxury item.  She encourages her clients to begin reading to their babies right after birth and to continue on a daily basis.  We will begin sending books to our newest service area RST Maternal and Child Health program on the Rosebud Reservation.

We helped supply books for the library in the Wanblee Community Center initially set up by a group of college students.  We sent many books and magazines to the Wanblee Elder Center and over the years have sent countless gardening books, cook books, sewing and quilting books, how to books on every subject imaginable to the Wanblee area.

And finally we have sent many, many books to teachers at Marty Indian School for their classrooms and for the Feather Store.  School is now out for the summer but thankfully the majority of students plan to attend the Boys and Girls Club where there’s a planned reading program so kids don’t lose any progress they’ve made.    Students tested low on their reading skills at the beginning of the 2018/19 school year, extra tutoring sessions were set up to boost their levels so hopefully that helped.

And the group For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation are helping the Rosebud Elementary school acquire books thru their wonderful book donations.

Books (and magazines) are always needed in all areas we serve for all ages infant through adult.  Ask friends co-workers, churches, clubs and other organizations to help you collect books for the Rez, more ideas here  Shop resale shops and garage sales, many times at the end of a sale people are more than willing to give you the books they have left especially if they know they’re for kids that don’t have any.

Please send books about Lakota stories, crafts, sewing, science, baby board books, teen books, picture books for the younger kids, reference books, dictionaries, gardening, senior care, parenting, sports, first aid, cook books, novels for all ages.  Magazines about all the above subject matter, “Highlights”, “Ranger Rick” and similar magazines for kids.  We don’t send any religious materials, bibles, etc. unless the areas we serve make a specific request. Books can be sent here.   All areas can accept items now as they have storage. And all areas can take items that are seasonal if you need to send before that time to make room in your house! We have very generous donors!!

Thank you for helping build libraries across the Rez!

Sew For Kids

 

Rez News and Needs for Summer

Sacred Shawl Society’s Women’s Shelter

Kimmie Clausen, shelter and youth center director, says they’ve had 56 children and their mothers at the shelter over the past 4 months, it’s been hectic to say the least.  As a result their clothing stock has been severely depleted and they’re in need of children’s clothing in all sizes, infant through 14/16, but especially smaller sizes as most of the children they serve are younger.  Food kits sent by the group “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” are helping teach women at the shelter how to cook a new dish for their families. The kits contain a recipe, ingredients, and the utensils they need, some members in the group have even donated cookware so women have pots and pans to cook in when they return home.  Kimmie is so grateful for their help and says the kits are helping stretch their $600 monthly food budget.  Kudos to this group for coming up with such a great idea, thanks ladies!      

Kimmie remembers quite well learning the ropes a few years ago as a new shelter director, coping with the bureaucracy of federal programs and learning to write grants so she is going to mentor Barb Dull Knife, director of the foster home.  Kimmie wishes the tribal council was more supportive of women’s issues as Barb wishes they paid more attention to children but despite the lack of tribal support, both women saw a need in their communities and were willing to step up and take on the challenge knowing there were probably many headaches and sleepless nights ahead.  They did it because they cared and knew someone had to advocate for the women and children.  We applaud both of these honorable women for their strength, courage and dedication to the abused and neglected women and children in their care and we all feel honored to be able to help them.  Please send donations for the shelter here.

My Space Youth Center

Is bursting at the seams, up to 70 kids use the center every day!  During the school year the center is open weekdays from 4 to 10 pm and 12 to 10 pm on weekends with summer hours extended to most of the day.  Kimmie has an associate director for the youth center and 2 volunteers that will be working with kids on summer programs and teaching reading skills, crafts, etc.  Kids come to the center to get a snack, finish homework, read, play games, use the computers or just hang out with friends.  Some kids don’t want to go home at closing time due to their home situations but there is no money in the budget to pay an overnight staff to supervise them.  Kimmie’s monthly food budget for the center is $400 which doesn’t go very far when you’re feeding 70 kids a day.  Lakota Friends Circle, through your generous donations, provides $100 a month for the purchase of milk, bread and other perishables from the local grocery in Martin which is shared with the shelter.  Food kits sent by For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation are also being used at the youth center and hopefully, items from the summer garden can be added to some of the items sent to make them even more nutritious. We would love to send more food to help feed all the hungry kids this summer but this is all we can do for now.  If you would like to help provide food for the kids please make a donation at Lakota Friends Circle.

Kimmie also receives $1000 quarterly from the district’s allotment from casino earnings which are used for children’s programs including providing swim passes to the local pool.  Special programs are funded by grants and this year she was awarded one from National Geographic which will be used to take kids to cultural sites on the reservation.  They can only take 17 kids on the trip and they will be chosen by the number of stars they received for good behavior at the youth center.  Kids will have to read (Kimmie’s making booklets) about the history of the cultural sites before their visit and later in the summer they’ll be making some traditional crafts.  Kimmie will be leading a separate cultural tour, made possible by a grant from NOVA, for the girls participating in their Isnati or coming of age ceremony this summer.  Members of “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” are making toiletry and make up bags for the girls to use during their 4 day ceremony.  Thank you again ladies!!

The youth center plans to have a garden again which Kimmie hopes will provide plenty of healthy veggies that will stretch their meager food budget and teach kids about growing and preserving their own food.  Planting will begin soon and she sends a big thank you to all who donated seeds.  Kimmie says the kids that get swim passes will probably be at the pool most of the day because they absolutely love the water!  Some of our members have sent bathing suits, thanks to Donna S and everyone that has sent swim suits and gear.  They can still use towels (new or gently used), goggles, swim fins, bathing caps, and reusable water bottles, sun hats and sunscreen for those working in the garden.  Please send donations for the Youth Center here.

Martin Head Start

The kids in the Head Start program in Martin and Allen were thrilled with the colorful blankets and cuddly stuffed animals they received from our groups and the kids from the local schools really appreciated all the warm coats, hats and mittens given out by Kimmie from your generous donations.  The Head Start kids will definitely be taking their blankets and stuffies home with them when the school year ends so blanket makers can start planning for the new classes coming in.  The kids loved all the books that came in, they (and their teachers) were getting pretty bored reading the same books over and over.  Some of the kids really got attached to some of the stories and characters in the books and want to take them home for the summer.  Books for kids are always appreciated at all our donation areas so be on the lookout for them this summer at your area garage sales.  Please send donations for Head Start to Kimmie here.

Wild Horse Butte CDC

In addition to director of the Sacred Shawl Society and My Space Youth Center, Kimmie Clausen is also Executive Director of Wild Horse Butte CDC, a non-profit serving the LaCreek district  community.   This is where women come for help with diapers, formula and clothing for their babies, especially toward the end of the month when they’ve run out of supplies.  Lakota Friends Circle, through your generous donations, sends diapers every month for these babies but this month we were able to send 30 containers of formula that we found at a really good price. Your cloth diapers and wipes are also given out here along with instructions on how to use and care for them.  We’re slowly building up the cloth diaper program and they could use more plastic pants and diaper pins if you have them.  Please send donations here.

Gather Our Children Home 

The Foster Home moved to their new location in Porcupine, SD last week.  They could no longer afford to pay the rent, insurance, etc. the Loneman School District was asking for.  Their new location, although the same size as Oglala, will be rent free which will certainly help with their tight budget.  They will still have to buy insurance and pay utilities, which can add up as their appliances are electric, but they do receive help from a non-profit for that.  The new home uses propane for heat as the old location did and if you remember we helped them through a heating crisis this past winter as the tank was close to empty and they were completely out of funds.  A generous donor gave $300 for propane so they have something to start with, it snowed last week so they still need to have the heat on.  The flood waters are gone for the most part but the mud it left behind is making travel nearly impossible in some areas, 4 wheel drives are even getting mired down in the mud.  They will need air conditioning soon but will have to find some extra funds to move the air conditioner to the new home.  New or gently used furniture is also on the wish list, they’ve had over 200 kids at the home in the past 2 years so the furniture is looking pretty shabby.  They also need curtains for the windows, we’re waiting for measurements so we can start shopping for them.  The new freezer we purchased for them has been moved to the new location and will be upstairs instead of the basement.

Employee salaries are covered by True Sioux Hope Foundation, most of the clothing, shoes, snacks, toys, etc. are donated by groups such as ours.  They’ve been doing a lot of in house staff training and reviewing policies with all their workers so they can apply for government grants.  They recently added a board member who is a child protection specialist for their expertise and guidance.  Two groups from Colorado are going to build a new playground and fence the property so kids have a safe place to play, they will also finish the basement which will be used for a library and maybe they can get a computer and TV for the older kids so they have a quiet place to go to escape from the younger kids.  They will need a security system installed as soon as possible, which we have money set aside for, so workers can monitor the children and Barb can monitor the entire foster home from her own home.  Thanks to Linda B. for purchasing the storage shelves, others donated storage bins to store clothing, shoes, etc.  We had some extra cash donations this month so were able to send diapers and formula, we’re hoping to do that on a monthly basis if funds are available.  The home needs summer clothing in all sizes and shoes, sun hats, etc. which is our current monthly project.  Please send your donations here.

Bright Start

Mary Mousseau wanted us to extend a huge thanks to all of you for the beautiful baby items our groups have sent.  We’ve been able to add size 3 and 4 diapers to her monthly shipment because of all your generous donations.  Babies grow so fast in their first year, they should double their birth weight at 5 months and triple it by their first birthday.  Mary sees her clients on a weekly basis for the first month after birth and twice a month thereafter until babies reach their third birthday.  She loves giving out all the books, softies and toys you’ve been sending and the mom’s love them too!  Donation address here.

Rosebud Sioux Tribe Maternal and Child Health

Sandi Wilcox, the nurse at RST Maternal and Child Health, mainly sees high risk patients and their babies are enrolled in the program until their second birthday.  Sandi is so grateful for all the baby clothing and supplies and says she now has something to offer her clients.  This past month we had some extra money so were able to send size 3 and 4 diapers to her, we would love to continue on a regular basis but will have to build our monthly donor base for that to happen.  If you would like to help us supply diapers to Sandi please make a donation to Lakota Friends Circle here.  RST is one of our newest donation areas, for more information about their program please read this previous blog.  Donation address for this program is here.

List of Baby Needs

  • Clothing – Onesies, sleepers, sleep sacks, sweaters, shirts and pants/shorts, sun hats and diaper covers all lighter weight for summer.  Most newborns wear 0-3 months but Rosebud’s program also needs NB and preemie since they serve high risk clients.  Sizes for all areas needed up to 3T
  • Socks/booties and hats – Summer weight.
  • Blankets – lighter blankets, quilts and receiving blankets
  • Towels – Regular bath towels and washcloths, hooded towels and smaller/softer baby wash cloths especially desirable.
  • Burp Cloths/Bibs –  Both home sewn and ready made.  Good projects to whittle down your stash.
  • Toys – Including small stuffed animals (baby safe – no buttons, strings, loose trims, etc.), teethers, baby books.  Other toys up to 2-3 years.
  • Sheets – to fit Pack and Play’s, they only receive one sheet with the unit.
  • Diaper Bags – traditional style, tote bags and back packs for younger moms.
  • Toiletries for Baby – Including baby wash, cotton swabs, diaper cream, thermometers, baby nail clippers, pacifiers.
  • Toiletries and bags for Mothers – Shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, body wash, sanitary pads/tampons. Small items such as nail polish, hair ties, hair brush, etc. would make a mom feel special.  Simple draw string bag to hold everything.
  • Disposable diapers and Wipes –  Diapers in sizes 3-4 most needed.
  • Cloth Diapers – Cloth diapers any style, plastic plants, diaper pins and clothes pins for line drying.

Anything on the above list can be sent to Sacred Shawl Women’s Shelter, Wild Horse Butte CDC, Bright Start, or Rosebud Sioux Tribe Maternal and Child Health, addresses are here.

Marty Indian School

May 17 will be the last day of school for students at Marty Indian School.  Fifty of the seventy elementary students will attend the Boys and Girls Club until the end of June.  They will receive lunch and participate in lots of fun games and activities and work on their reading skills.  The schedule for the last week of school is Monday – kindergarten graduation at 10:00 am, Tuesday – Field Day, Wednesday – Awards Day, Thursday – Senior’s Feather Ceremony, and Friday – Graduation.  Each of the classes are having their class trips this week.

Principal Jolene Arrow and Paulita Drapeau, a teaching assistant jack of all trades got the Feather Store ready for the grand finale sale for both parents and students the last week of April.  Thanks to everyone for making all this possible through your many, generous donations throughout the school year.  A very special thanks to all room parents that sponsor a class throughout the year sending school supplies, books, Christmas and birthday gifts, snacks, clothing, coats, etc.  Your sponsorship does make a difference, test scores are improving and kids are thrilled to have “room moms”!

Wanblee Community

Food and some wood deliveries continue in Wanblee.  Summer will be here before you know it and volunteers will begin to arrive to work on community projects such as painting, yard work and rehab work on homes.  Kids are attending cooking and sewing classes sponsored by Families Working Together at the community center.  They had a wonderful Easter party at the High Horses, Peyton Manning from the Denver Broncos provided 400 buckets filled with candy and gifts with raffle prizes coming from NAHA trucks or gift items left over from Christmas gifts our groups sent.  It was a beautiful 70 degree day and everyone had a great time.

Summer will be extra special on the Rez this year after the brutal winter and terrible flooding they had to endure this spring.  So many of you donated extra time making warm blankets, shopping for warm clothing and sending money to fill the propane tank at the foster home when the gauge was nearing empty.  You were so generous that we also purchased a new freezer for them and put money back for a new security system to be installed at their new location.  It would take 10 blogs to list all the things you do, we can never thank you enough!

Sew For Kids

 

Earth Day and Rez Programs

April 22nd was Earth Day and although out of the minds of a lot of people, we wanted to write a blog about how SFK is promoting the values of reduce, reuse and recycle in some of our programs and encouraging people on the Rez to do the same for the health of their communities.  We all need to think about how we can become better stewards of our earth and save it for generations to come.  What we do in our everyday lives affects the quality of our air, water, food, oceans, green spaces, climate, and all of the animal world we share the planet with.  If we don’t make some drastic changes soon we won’t be able to escape the most devastating effects of climate change which is already here in most parts of the world.   It will take all of us coming together to make the changes needed and in a world where we are continually inundated with ads to buy more stuff we all need to stop and ask ourselves is this something we want or need.  We don’t have solutions for the mass disposal of plastics and cheap clothing that’s overflowing landfills and choking our oceans.  Only a small percentage of plastics are ever recycled and even then it’s usually once or twice before they’re turned into textiles that won’t be recycled and most likely end up in landfills where they’ll take decades to break down.  Once plastic is created it can never be recycled into nonexistence or made to go away only broken down into smaller particles (microplastics) that eventually ends up in our water and food supply.  Kudos to all the people working so hard on finding viable solutions to help solve some of these problems but all of us can support their work by changing our habits and adopting a new way of thinking and consuming.

Sew For Kids has been trying to promote reusable items on the Rez and we encourage members to only send what our areas need and want.  Landfills on the Rez are filled with outdated or non-usable clothing and other items they didn’t request and don’t want.  A good deal of these unusables come in on trucks from organizations that bring donated items that are out of date, soiled, missing parts or things they simply can’t use.  They do this for the tax write off and no one on the Rez is ready to tell them not to come because  sometimes they have things they really need like toiletries, diapers, laundry detergent and toilet paper.  If the Rez had a recycling center they might be able to make a profit on some of these things instead of throwing them in the landfill but that’s not in the foreseeable future so the dumps continue to fill up.

Pine Ridge does have a garbage service now but before that started trash bags piled up around homes until people could haul them off to the county dump or burn them in creating toxic smoke and ash.    People do go to the dump and sort through the refuse for usable items such as wood to burn in their stoves, old clothing that can be recycled into a quilt or something else for the home or look for small appliances to repair, if they have the skills, but most of it is not usable and these landfills are taking up precious land.

Here are some of the ways SFK is encouraging our members and the Rez to reduce, reuse and recycle.

  • Cloth Bags – We make fabric bags that can be laundered and reused many times replacing the plastic bags most people use.  We encourage members to make bags from recycled clothing, sheets, etc. to keep costs low and textiles out of landfills.  The bags are given to families leaving the shelter and kids at the foster home for their belongings, they’re used in Wanblee and other areas to make food bags, baby supply bags at WIC and the CDC office in Martin.  Larger bags are given to Sacred Shawl Society to use for comfort bags for rape victims who have had to surrender their clothing for evidence.
  • We send quality items, requested by our donation areas, that are new or gently used so they will be welcomed by the recipients and they can pass them down to the next family member.  Socks and underwear we send are always new, our donation guidelines are here.
  • Diapers and Wipes – Although we do send disposable diapers and wipes to our donation areas that have requested them, Sacred Shawl Society’s women’s shelter, Gather Our Children Home, RST Maternal and Child Health, Bright Start, and Wild Horse Butte CDC, through our monthly fund at Lakota Friends Circle, (we’re always in need of more donations), for the past few years we’ve been sending cloth diapers (made from recycled clothing), to most of our areas and are happy to report women are using them and we’re getting more and more requests for them.  It’s easier for the foster home and shelter to use cloth diapers as they have laundry facilities but women are using them at home when they run out of disposables toward the end of the month.  Most of the sites teach women how to use and launder cloth diapers and provide them with laundry pods, plastic pants and diaper pins.  It’s much easier for them to use cloth in the summer months when they can take advantage of drying diapers on a clothes line, using the sun rather than a clothes dryer is better for their pocketbook and the environment.  SFK members make diapers from flannel sheets and cotton T-shirts re-purposing textiles that are already here instead of buying new fabric which saves money and valuable resources.
  • We make bibs, burp pads, aprons and nursing pads that can be reused and keep clothing clean resulting in cleaner clothes and fewer loads of laundry saving water and electricity.  Water is a precious resource on the Rez as well as many other places in the world and will be everywhere in the not too distant future.  We have tried to implement a reusable menstrual pad program but that hasn’t become very popular so is on the back burner for now.
  • SFK purchased a new washer and dryer for the My Space Youth Center in Martin so kids can come and do a load of laundry instead of staying home from school because they  have no clean clothing to wear.  Kids need less clothing if they can wash them.  We want kids to feel good about themselves, looking presentable to others preserves one’s dignity and builds self esteem.  Kids also learn a new skill by doing their own laundry.
  • We provided the foster home and shelter with real silverware, cups, plates and bowls to replace the plastic cutlery and disposable plates and cups they had been using.  We all know what plastics and Styrofoam are doing to the planet.  Many families leaving the shelter take some of the utensils and dishes with them when they leave which gets re-usables into the right hands preventing more plastic waste that can’t or won’t be recycled.
  • We don’t send toys that use batteries, we do send puzzles, games and toys that are in good, used condition keeping those items out of landfills and giving children fun, healthy activities that keep them engaged and happy.
  • Some of our members “wrap” Christmas gifts in cloth bags so there’s no waste and the bags can be reused for other things.
  • Quilts, afghans and blankets – Some members make quilts and afghans using scrap fabric and yarn that is too small for larger projects keeping small bits of textiles out of the landfill.  Kids love quilts made from many colors and prints and they allow us to use our creative talents.  Scrap afghans, mittens, booties, hats and other small projects  let us use up all those smaller balls of yarn that always seem to multiply in our stash.  The textile and clothing industry is a major polluter, it can take 40 years for clothing and 1,000 years or more for shoes to decompose in a landfill so reusing and repurposing textiles is vital for the health of our planet.
  • We have provided vegetable seeds, gardening books, canning jars and freezer containers to areas we serve so they can preserve their harvest for winter when vegetables are expensive and money is tight.  We have purchased refrigerators and freezers for some of our areas so they can store their harvest and purchase food in bulk from food banks.  Gardening teaches kids a valuable skill they can use throughout their lives leading to food security and self sufficiency.  In addition to growing their own food, when kids learn about their culture and how to forage for traditional native foods they may help their generation turn around the epidemic of diabetes so prevalent on the Rez due to the “western” diet that was forced upon them years ago.  Some areas are planting trees for shade and food, trees can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide a year and sequester a ton by the time they’re 40 years old. There’s also a movement to construct greenhouses so food can be grown most of the year with the excess being sold to local stores.
  • SFK held a successful (with one large donation from a long time member) tiller drive last year and were able to purchase a tiller for a donated tractor in the community of Wanblee.  They can now till more garden plots getting more people involved in growing some of their own food with the added bonus of getting plenty of fresh air and exercise.  Most Pine Ridge communities are remote so everything has to be trucked in making food more expensive and since trucks use fossil fuels, increasing the carbon footprint.  Fresh vegetables straight from the garden have the most nutrients and can significantly improve the Lakota diet which mainly consists of government commodities and unhealthy food purchased from rural convenience stores, most people live in a food desert with the nearest full service grocery 80 or more miles away.
  • We support the wood program in Wanblee by providing funding needed to deliver wood to homes and keep their saws working.  The “Woodchucks” cut up dead wood from rancher’s creeks year round and deliver it to homes in the area that use wood as their primary heat source.  Although we realize wood smoke is polluting and not really healthy for folks to breathe, we have to acknowledge the fact that many people on the Rez heat with wood because they can’t afford propane and would otherwise go without heat entirely.  Installing EPA certified stoves in homes could alleviate 90 percent of hazardous emissions but people can’t afford the cost of a new stove and we’re not aware of any organizations that could provide one.  The tribe is looking at wind and solar options but there always seems to be an obstacle that gets in the way of any progress. For now supporting the wood program is the only option for getting heat into homes that can’t afford propane.
  • SFK members send books for children and adults that can be shared and used over and over again.  Many of these books came from a library, garage sale, thrift store, or were donated to our members from friends and family members so they could send to families on the Rez.  Books provide education, improves reading skills and opens up the readers world to new adventures, ideas and new skills.  Sending books to those that don’t have any improves their lives and keeps books out of landfills.
  • We have provided sewing machines, notions and fabric to some of our donation areas so people can learn to make or repair their clothing rather than throwing them out.  Having a sewing machine also allows people to reuse some of the textiles from the trucks that would otherwise end up in the dump.
  • We provided videos, VHS tapes and players that many of our members no longer used keeping those out of the landfill and providing entertainment for families that can’t afford cable access.  We provided the Wanblee community with a system that allows them to show movies outside during the summer.  The community can come together, watch a good movie, have a drink and bag of popcorn and build friendships and a sense of community.
  • We provided reusable water bottles so kids can reuse them instead of purchasing drinks in plastic bottles.  The youth center fills a large container with water or lemonade and provides reusable cups to cut down on plastic waste.  We can always send more water bottles as kids use them at school and in the summer during camp and cultural trips.  Containers in good, used condition are certainly fine to send.
  • We provide monthly funds for the Martin youth center that are used to purchase perishables such as eggs, milk and cheese and also bread and peanut butter so staff can make sandwiches to feed hungry kids at the youth center and shelter.  Providing healthy food for kids means they’re not buying chips or junk food at the local convenience store that is always packaged in plastic and ends up as more garbage in the landfill.
  • We provided funding for a community clean up day last year in Wanblee.  The community came together for the day and worked cleaning up the local park and yards and afterwards shared a meal together.  People are taking pride in their communities, planting flowers, mowing lawns and picking up garbage, just taking care of Mother Earth which is sacred to Native Americans and should be to everyone, it’s the only one we have.  Every summer volunteers from Youthworks come and help families paint their homes, cut brush, etc.  which encourages people to take care of their homes and community.
  • Buying in Bulk – SFK has a fund through Lakota Friends Circle that we use to purchase things we can’t make such as toiletries, detergent, disposable diapers, formula, etc.   We save our members money by eliminating shipping costs and  get more bang for their buck by buying bulk, we’re also reducing the amount of packaging going to the landfill and fuel for trucking.  Hopefully in the future we can find other ways for our areas to be more self sufficient and use less resources.  Making their own cleaning supplies and laundry detergent are certainly on the list and who knows maybe those reusable menstrual pads will be a hit someday.

 

Many thanks to everyone for helping our families on the Rez but also for reducing and recycling through the things you send.  People learn by example and you’re certainly all great role models.  Every day should be Earth Day in our opinion!

Thanks from Sew For Kids.

April/May Project “Summer Fun”

It’s hard to even think about summer when there’s currently so much need on the Rez due to the recent flooding. This winter has posed many challenges for our Rez families due to record low temperatures, heavy snowfall and now the aftermath, flooding.  Recently many families were stranded in their homes for days without food and water due to a blizzard in March which was promptly followed by massive flooding leaving their roads with deep ruts or washed out altogether making travel in vehicles impossible.  Thankfully volunteers on horseback were able to get food, water and medical supplies to those stranded in their homes but the Reservation is still in crisis mode.  Although our group is small and not equipped to handle large emergencies, we have been able, through your generous donations, to help by sending diapers, formula, food, etc. to Martin and the foster home and work with Jerome to get food delivered in the Wanblee area.  We will continue to help as long as requests are made and donations come in, meanwhile we can also start working on summer clothing for the kids for the next two months.

Cold and snow will eventually leave the Rez and we’re already getting requests for summer clothing from the areas we serve.  Kids look forward to the end of school and the joy of summer vacation when they can finally get outside and just play.  The last day of school for Marty and most schools on Pine Ridge is May 17.  Having the proper clothing makes summer much more tolerable as temperatures on the Rez can be very hot.  Sew For Kids volunteers always have fun sewing shorts and dresses every spring and the girls absolutely love their dresses!  Kimmie says the girls are so excited when they start coming in and she sees them wearing them around town all summer long. Girls and their moms love dresses and they’re worn daily and for special occasions such as Pow Wow’s, family events, etc.   If you don’t sew or would rather shop, garage sales will be starting soon and are always a great place to get good clothing at bargain prices.  Please review our donation guidelines before sending used clothing.  Sizes needed babies through teens 16/18 or adult S/M, all areas we serve need summer clothing.

Children’s Summer Clothing

  • Clothing – Shorts, capris, dresses and skirts, light weight pants, leggings, T-shirts, tops, light jackets and summer weight PJ’s.  Onesies and rompers for babies, sunhats for all.
  • Underwear – Must be new, sizes toddler to 16/18 or adult S and sports bras for girls (gently used accepted).
  • Shoes – New or gently used sandals, flipflops and other summer shoes, all sizes, all areas.
  • Swim gear – Swim suits, swim goggles, sunscreen, sunhats, and towels.  Martin and Wanblee are the only areas with a pool.  Kids at the foster home may have access to a kiddie pool.
  • Summer Toys – Frisbees, balls, pails/shovels, kites, pool toys, etc.

Women’s Clothing Needs at the Shelter

  • Clothing – Shorts, capris and jeans in sizes S (5/6) to XXL (18/20 up) Summer weight shirts and T-shirts, PJ’s, casual dresses and skirts.
  • Shoes –  Including sandals and flip-flops, sizes up to 11.
  • Underwear – New only, sizes 6 to 9 most requested, larger sizes ok too.
  • Bras – Sports type M/XL and regular bras, most requested size 36C, others welcome too.  Gently used are acceptable and women love those with a little lace.

 

Summer in Martin

Kids in Martin will be spending part of their summer swimming in the local pool which is good exercise and a great way to burn off a lot of energy.  The Martin community will once again provide funding for the swim passes.  Kids will also be fishing, playing basketball, participating in summer camps or riding horses if they have one.  Kimmie Clausen, My Space Youth Center Director, received a National Geographic grant that will allow her to take kids to Lakota sacred sites and to teach them how to make traditional cultural items, learn why they’re significant and how they’re used.   With the large van they purchased last year, they’ll be able to take kids on these excursions.  Kimmie also received funding from NOVA so they can hold the Isnati coming of age ceremony for girls.  Classes will begin soon for this annual event which brings together girls, their mothers and elders from the community to teach Lakota traditions and culture.  A similar event is also held for boys.

Gardening is once again on the list of summer programs and with the continued help from the SD extension office, they will plant a big garden.  Kids will learn how to plant and tend a garden and how to cook and preserve the vegetables.  They will also be learning about traditional plants used by Native Americans and how to forage for them, some will also being planted in the garden at the youth center. The kids also have access to computers and a library during the day and reading will be encouraged so kids can keep their skills honed over the summer.  They will also have movie nights and an occasional sleepover at the youth center.  Popcorn, oil and popcorn bags are always needed for these events.  Kimmie is also the director at the shelter and is hoping to find funding to fence off an area so kids have a safe place to play.

Parents are encouraged to sign their children up in local summer food programs and those attending summer school will get breakfast and lunch until the end of June.  The youth center does provide snacks for the kids throughout the summer and the monthly stipend SFK provides for perishables does help them through the month.  If you would like to help with summer food at the youth center please donate through Lakota Friends Circle (our “Mother” organization) and note how your donation is to be used.

 Summer in Wanblee

A few of Wanblee’s plans for the summer will be planting vegetable gardens and fixing up the local park so kids have a safe area to play.  Kids will be swimming, horseback riding, camping, or playing basketball, soccer and baseball with bike riding a possibility if Jerome can get used bikes through the bike project.  YouthWorks volunteers teach kids safe riding habits and how to maintain and repair their bikes during their summer visits.  The community center has a library so kids can find a quiet corner or the cool shade of a tree to read a good adventure book and escape for a while.  Families Working Together is also holding cooking and sewing classes at the center so plenty of opportunities to learn a new skill over the summer.  Teens from YouthWorks and students from various universities visit every summer to teach kids different skills and hold movie nights.  Some church groups also visit and hold day camps with arts and crafts and other fun activities.

Summer in Marty

About 50 students from grades K-5 will be participating in programs at the local Boys and Girls Club that will be open through the end of June.  They’re promoting a reading program this year and students can also do extra school work if they’ve fallen behind in their classes so they’re ready for the new school year.  Of course kids will be using the playground facilities and have arts and crafts and other activities as well.  Food is served so kids don’t go hungry over the summer months. The last day of school is May 17 and the last week is not well attended so please try to have your clothing and other donations to the school by the first week of May so Paulita has time to stock the Feather Store.

You can refer to this blog  for needs, the list hasn’t changed much from last year.  We have added new donation areas including “Gather Our Children Home” in Oglala, they need clothing, etc. for children ages 0-12.  Most of the children stay for a short time until they’re placed in a safe home so they have a high turnover and constantly need clothing replaced as does the Sacred Shawl Shelter in Martin. Another new donation area is RST Maternal and Child Health serving high risk women and their babies through age 2 on Rosebud Reservation. They need baby items 0-3T as does  Bright Start on Pine Ridge Reservation.

Shipping addresses for all areas can be found here.  If you can, please let us know quantity and sizes of your clothing donations so we can cover as many different ages as possible.  We can’t thank you enough for your continued generous support of children and their families on South Dakota Reservations!

Thanks from Sew For Kids

 

 

 

 

 

March – Baby/Toddler Project

Well this blog is a little late (11 days but who’s counting, lol!), believe it or not we do try for the first of the month but sometimes get sidetracked with other requests and the blog gets delayed.  Fortunately our forgiving members are used to our tardiness and are already sending diapers and supplies to the areas we serve.  Some of our members have a special calling for anything baby related and concentrate mostly on them throughout the year. We’re frequently asked if donations are tax deductible and the answer is some are and some aren’t.  The information is under each donation area and we’ve suggested how you can still get a deduction even though some programs don’t qualify.  We’ve also tried to answer other frequent questions about how your donations help and which areas serve babies. Keep the questions coming and we’ll do our best to answer them.  Some of this information was in our last couple of blogs but we’re repeating for new visitors, others may want to skip down to the list of needs.

Gather Our Children Home 

Is an emergency foster care home in Oglala, SD on Pine Ridge Reservation serving children 0-12 years of age.  The mission statement from their website  “The creation of Wakanyeja Gluwitayan Otipi is a project of concerned elders and grandmothers who are citizens of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. It is a domestic nonprofit incorporated under the laws of the State of South Dakota. The purpose of the children’s home is to provide an immediate safe environment until a caring, safe and suitable foster or relative home becomes available for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. The home is entirely based upon Lakota traditional child and family child raising practices”.

Children are admitted to the home after child protective services removes them from their abusive or unsafe homes.  Sometimes the hospital may release children directly to the home after an injury or  in the case of newborns occasionally soon after delivery if the mother is physically, emotionally, or financially unable to care for her baby or has a substance abuse problem.  The facility can currently care for 15 children although they have stretched the number to 16 for critical cases which puts a stress on their small staff.  Although the foster home is about the same size as the average home on the Rez (which may house more than 20 people), they are required to follow SD safety rules and codes such as maintaining fire exits, extinguishers, and smoke alarms, maintaining insurance and practicing food safety rules all of which adds to the cost of operating a safe home for children on a shoe string budget.

Children staying at the home for more than a few days attend the local elementary school.  Babies tend to have a longer stay unless they’re only there for respite care.  Most children arrive at the home with just the clothes on their backs so are given clothing, shoes, toiletries and toys (if they have them) but most important, they’re provided with a safe, loving and nurturing home environment provided by the dedicated staff.  When children leave the facility  they take clothing and other things they were given when arriving so stock at the home needs constant replenishing.

Director, Barbara Dull Knife, is currently working on finding funding to build a new 40 bed home.  She has already donated a tract of land she owns for the project but now needs to raise funding through a capital campaign and writing grants before construction can begin. They do receive some help from the tribe, the rest comes from non profits such as ours.  Children cannot be placed in foster homes off the Rez and many who could be foster parents are unwilling to apply because they’re worried CPS may find drugs or alcohol, both illegal substances on the Rez, in their homes which is likely since most people have a large number of adults living with them.  This organization is a 501(c)(3) and all donations qualify for a charitable tax deduction.

Sacred Shawl Society – Martin SD  

Operates a shelter for women suffering from domestic/sexual abuse and their children.  Clients and their children arrive at the shelter with just the clothes they’re wearing and sometimes without shoes.  Every organization on the Rez operates on an extremely tight budget including Sacred Shawl.  Kimmie says without our donations of clothing, toiletries, shoes, toys, school supplies, etc. they simply couldn’t provide anything to incoming clients other than counseling and a safe place to stay.  She has also provided clothing and other items to the Martin Head Start which serves toddlers 3-5 years.  Our group recently provided each child with a blanket, book and stuffed animal.

The Martin Clinic has a midwife that sees patients in the Wanblee and Martin areas and girls at Pine Ridge High School.  She likes to have baby supplies to use as incentives to encourage women to come in for prenatal care and checkups after delivery.  New mothers and babies are followed by a public health nurse for a few weeks after birth to make sure both are doing well and to keep an eye out for postpartum depression which is often seen on the Rez.  They’re also counseled on breastfeeding, SIDS guidelines and signed up for WIC and other programs.  Having incentives increases the likelihood women will follow through with all the preventive programs available for them and their babies.

Wild Horse Butte CDC  What is a CDC?  It is a community  development corporation or (CDC) and is a not-for-profit organization incorporated to provide programs, offer services and engage in other activities that promote and support community development.  CDC’s usually serve a geographic location such as a neighborhood or a town.

Kimmie Clausen, director of Sacred Shawl is also the director of the CDC serving the Martin area.  Mothers come by the CDC toward the end of the month looking for help when their baby’s formula has run out.  The formula they receive from WIC usually lasts for three weeks so mothers must try to find help until their benefits become available at the beginning of the month. They’re also looking for diapers, clothing and other needs and Kimmie, never letting an opportunity to educate women slip by, gives them tips on child care, parenting, budgeting, etc. and even offers a soft shoulder to cry on if needed.  Kimmie is well known across the Rez for the tireless work she does for women and children’s rights so often receives calls from women in other areas who know she will do whatever it takes to help them.  All donations to the CDC or Sacred Shawl are eligible for a charitable tax deduction.

Bright Start Program 

Targets expectant mothers to improve their health so they in turn give birth to healthy babies.  Clients are eligible for the program until their child reaches their third birthday.  Mary Mousseau sees her clients weekly in Pine Ridge, Martin and Kyle for the first two weeks after birth and twice a month thereafter.  She has between 20-30 clients, many are in their teens and or are first time mothers.  Please click on this link to learn more about this program and what they offer.

Having baby supplies, clothing, books, toys and even toiletries and small gifts for the mothers has made Mary’s life so much easier and having the proper resources for babies reduces the likelihood of child abuse in young, inexperienced and frustrated mothers.  Mary says her clients are  absolutely thrilled to have the proper clothing and supplies for their babies, books they can read to their children and toys for their kids they couldn’t otherwise afford.  This is a government program so donations are NOT tax deductible however, cash donations made to Lakota Friends Circle for the purchase of diapers, toiletries, etc. are eligible and a receipt will be emailed to you.

Rosebud Sioux Tribe Maternal and Child Health Program  

Located in Mission, South Dakota serves women with high risk pregnancies before and after delivery, more information can be found in a previous blog here.  Head nurse, Sandi Wilcox, makes home visits to women before and after delivery providing education, well being checks and making sure they’re enrolled in WIC and getting medical checkups and immunizations for their babies.  She does take clients a layette before giving birth and would like to have clothing, toiletries, small gifts for mothers, etc. for future home visits.  This is a tribal program so donations are NOT eligible for a charitable tax deduction, however all cash donations to Lakota Friends Circle for the benefit of this program does qualify and a receipt will be emailed to you for your contribution.

Wanblee Community

Has a daycare center and a Head Start program and often has needs for children in those programs.  Jerome and Theresa High Horse, like Kimmie Clausen in Martin, often receive calls from desperate people needing formula, diapers and other needs for their babies and children which they’re happy to help with if they have the supplies.  The Wanblee Public Health Nurse is currently on maternity leave but will begin seeing patients again at area clinics and making home visits when she returns to work.  She brings baby supplies with her if she has them.  Donations for all babies in the Wanblee area should be mailed to Lakota Friends Circle c/o Jerome and Theresa High Horse, address here.  If your donation is for the public health nurse please put ATTN:  Michelle, Public Health Nurse somewhere on your box, she will pick up her donations from them which makes your donation tax deductible.   We have previously worked with Michelle when she was employed at Rosebud Hospital and we’re expecting the same good working relationship now that we had with her previously.  We’ll let you know when she has returned to work.

List of Needs

  • Clothing – Onesies, sleepers, sleep sacks, sweaters, shirts and pants.  Most newborns wear 0-3 months but Rosebud’s program also needs NB and preemie since they serve high risk clients.  Sizes for all areas needed up to 3T
  • Socks/booties and hats – Both good projects for knitters and sewers.
  • Blankets – Warm blankets, afghans, quilts and receiving blankets
  • Towels – Regular bath towels and washcloths, hooded towels and smaller/softer baby wash cloths especially desirable.
  • Burp Cloths/Bibs –  Both home sewn and ready made.  Good projects to whittle down your stash.
  • Toys – Including small stuffed animals (baby safe – no buttons, strings, loose trims, etc.), teethers, baby books.  Other toys up to 2-3 years.
  • Sheets – to fit Pack and Play’s, they only receive one sheet with the unit.
  • Diaper Bags – traditional style, tote bags and back packs for younger moms.
  • Toiletries for Baby – Including baby wash, cotton swabs, diaper cream, thermometers, baby nail clippers, pacifiers.
  • Toiletries for Mothers – Shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, body wash, sanitary pads/tampons. Small items such as nail polish, hair ties, hair brush, etc. would make a mom feel special.
  • Diapers and Wipes –  Diapers in sizes 3-4 most needed

Items may be home sewn, purchased new or gently used if they meet our donation guidelines.  Donation addresses are here.  Monetary donations can also be made to Lakota Friends Circle for the purchase of diapers, wipes and toiletries which can provide you with a charitable tax donation.  If you prefer to send yourself from an online store please consider purchasing through Amazon Smile and choosing Lakota Friends Circle as your charity.  They receive a quarterly check from Amazon that is used to fund our programs on reservations in SD.

Please join our Facebook working group Sew For Kids Volunteers where we discuss ideas and patterns, share sales and pictures of finished projects.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids!

Package Deliveries and Correspondence

The organizations we assist on the Rez operate on a very small, fixed budget which means one person more than likely handles half a dozen jobs or more.  They don’t have staffed offices capable of sending thank you notes or any correspondence other than returning a tax form in your SASE envelope or a stamped, addressed postcard for delivery confirmation.  You can find charitable tax forms to fill out on our “Where to Send” page here if they qualify, government programs are NOT tax exempt.  Fill out the form and include it with a SASE in the TOP of your box so they can sign and return to you.  If you need to know your box arrived please purchase delivery confirmation if shipping via the PO or track your package online if shipping via UPS or FedEx.  Including your email may get a reply but we cannot guarantee the person on the receiving end will follow through.

When sending from an online store fill in the “Is this a gift?” information box available on most sites and be sure to add your name.  Many of the Rez folks have said many times there is no contact information inside the box.  We are trying to work with some of the areas to get a list of weekly shipments received but if they’re busy it will be hit and miss at best.

The program directors are so grateful for all the help you’ve so generously given to their communities and they’re constantly singing your praises whenever we speak to them.  We try our best to keep you updated through the blogs and we have multiple board members that make yearly visits to all the areas so we can assure you the programs are operating and using your donations as intended.  If you don’t receive your SASE within a month please contact Carol here.  We do the best we can to please everyone but there’s only so much we can do, if we stop sending then our mission of helping children and their families has been defeated.  Thank you all for your patience and understanding.

 

 

Latest Rez News

 

MARTIN, SD

The Sacred Shawl Society’s women’s shelter in Martin has had quite a few admissions lately, the weather has been in the single digits so everyone has been staying inside which makes for more work and stress for everyone.  It’s sad there’s a need for the shelter but fortunately there’s a safe place to go on the Reservation for abused women and their children. Shelter director, Kimmie Clausen, is in a fight every day to find money through grants and donations to keep the doors open.  This is grant writing season and Kimmie’s been busy looking for funds to operate the shelter which includes employee salaries, food, etc.  She’s also applying for grants so she and her staff can teach parenting skills to clients.  Most of the women grew up in dysfunctional homes and never learned how to be a parent.  Kimmie says without the help of Sew For Kids and For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation she couldn’t operate her programs effectively.   When applying for various grants she states on her application that our groups have contributed at least $30,000 in in kind donations.

They’re currently busy planning summer activities for children at “My Space Youth Center” in Martin.  Two popular activities, swimming and gardening, will be returning for sure but they also want to teach kids various skills including traditional crafts and take field trips to cultural sites to learn about Lakota history.  They will get some funding from the District and Kimmie has applied for some youth grants as well.  They will try to get most of the kids using the center enrolled in a summer food program so they only have to provide snacks and sandwiches.  Kids are starving after swimming or playing all day which puts a strain on the food budget at the center during the summer.

Kimmie says it’s been extremely cold this winter and the District has spent $50,000 more this year to keep folks warm, especially the elderly.   She has spent over $1800 to heat her own home this season and wonders how the unemployed on the Rez are managing with just the LIHEAP program to help them, which is on the chopping block under the current administration.  All the warm clothing you’ve sent has been a blessing for so many and the blanket requests never end.   Both are needed to keep warm in unheated homes where bundling up is a necessity.

The Allen Head Start students recently received blankets, books, stuffed animals and warm clothing and accessories thanks to the generosity of SFK and Children of PRR.  Word got out about the wonderful blankets and goodies we sent to Martin Head Start and Allen asked Kimmie if she could get some help for their students.  We asked, you responded and lots of kids are happy, thanks ladies!!

WANBLEE, SD

Jerome High Horse has spent a good part of this winter unloading, sorting and delivering food from trucks coming in from various organizations.  He had hoped to make a trip to pick up food from “We Don’t Waste” in Colorado, unfortunately the weather hasn’t cooperated so far but he’s still planning a trip within the next 3 weeks.  Lakota Friends Circle provides most of the gas money to pick up food from Rapid City, Colorado, etc. and deliver to people in Wanblee and the outlying areas, all made possible through your generous donations and some from the quarterly check they receive from Amazon Smile.

The Woodchucks have been busy cutting wood again, this is the first time since starting the program they’ve run out of wood before the heating season ended.  The weather has been so cold this year they’ve had a hard time keeping up with the demand, some people don’t have money to buy propane so their wood stove is the only heat they have.  All the blankets and warm clothing you’ve sent to Wanblee has been a lifesaver for these folks, thank you!

Sadly there is still no resolution to the conflict at the community center the High Horse’s built with the Epp’s under Families Working Together which is ironic considering “working together” is in the name of their group.  So Jerome and Theresa have gone back to the Kennedy Hall for their activities and are currently paying the utilities.  They’re trying to get ownership of the building moved to the Wanblee Community and under tribal jurisdiction in the hopes they will pay the utilities.  The freezers we purchased and other items will be moved from the community center soon.  There is a plan for a community Easter party and SFK may help with food.

The public health nurse in Wanblee we’re planning to help is still on family leave after a difficult delivery, we wish her and her baby a speedy recovery.  We’ll let you know when she returns to work and post a list of needs.

Lakota Friends Circle, our “mother” organization is hoping to move 5 mobile homes from Pine Ridge to Wanblee this summer for 5 deserving families.  The homes were given to Jerome High Horse for needy families in the Wanblee area and originally came from North Dakota where they were used for workers in the oil industry.  They are fully furnished and in excellent condition but will have to be moved from Pine Ridge at a cost of $2000 each.  We’re planning a fund raising event soon detailed in a future blog.  Many thanks to those already helping with that need.

BRIGHT START  PINE RIDGE, SD

Program director and nurse, Mary Mousseau, is very busy with her clients and in weekly contact with Carol reporting on her program and always thanking everyone for generously supporting the babies and mothers she serves across the Rez.  She makes home visits to her clients for health checks, education, etc. and before our groups began helping would often come to homes empty handed.  Now she has baby supplies, clothing, books, toys and even toiletries and small gifts for the mothers.  Women are absolutely thrilled to have the proper clothing and supplies for their babies, books they can read to their children and toys for their kids they couldn’t otherwise afford.      Thanks for helping these families and making them feel special!

 

MARTY INDIAN SCHOOL – MARTY, SD

Students have had quite a few late starts and missed several days of school this winter due to the winter weather.  Most school districts would rather cancel classes than risk a bus break down or accident in frigid temps putting their precious cargo in harms way.  Hopefully they won’t have too many days to make up at the end of the year.

Room parents from SFK continue to help their classes sending snacks, school and party supplies, etc.  The Feather Store is a blessing as students and parents/grandparents can buy things they need for the cost of a few feathers earned by their children for attending school, finishing homework, displaying good sportsmanship, Dakota values, etc.  Ramonia S. helped fill the shelves of the feather store with clothing by sending many huge boxes of donations with the help of her friends and family and her savvy shopping skills, thanks Ramonia!

Students celebrated Valentine’s Day in their classrooms by passing out Valentines, eating snacks and playing games.  They had another celebration this past Monday for Dr. Seuss’s Read Across America and the second grade teacher (Carol’s class) was making red and white cupcakes for the party.  His students read daily in the classroom and he says they plan to have a summer reading program, he’s also in charge of the Boys and Girls Club at the school.  Lots of books have gone to individual classrooms and also to the Feather Store where kids can buy books to build their own home library.

GATHER OUR CHILDREN HOME –  OGLALA, SD 

Is one of the newest areas we serve and came to our attention after Kimmie Clausen recommended them and alerted us to their needs. They’ve had many babies and kids come through the home and could take many more if they had the staff.  Founder and Director, Barb Dull Knife, is working with Kimmie to find grants (they need about $200,000) so she can hire more staff and care for more children in need of a safe home.  Child Protection Services wants them to apply for a grant with them as well. The home operates with a no frills budget, much like Kimmie’s at Sacred Shawl.

Since Sew For Kids and For the Children of PRR began helping the foster home about a month ago, we’ve provided a full tank of propane, a new DVD player (thanks Margaret H), plug in phones (thanks woolydragon), a new upright freezer, toys, clothing, shoes, sheets, towels, blankets, books, DVD’s, toiletries, food, formula, diapers, school supplies, etc.  WOW, the response from everyone for these kids has been simply amazing!  Barbara was on her last few gallons of propane when we asked for your help and you responded with enough donations to fill the entire tank!  You gave so generously that there was enough money left over to purchase a new freezer that had been on their wish list for some time and there may be enough left to buy the security cameras they need to protect kids and staff or at least pay for part of the cost. Thank You hardly seems adequate for all the kindness you’ve shown but knowing kids are warmer this winter, have adequate clothing and toys to play is really all we need.

ROSEBUD SIOUX TRIBE MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH PROGRAM – MISSION, SD

Is a program serving women with high risk pregnancies before and after delivery, more information can be found in our last blog here.  Sandi Wilcox, program director, says donations are already arriving and they’re so happy we’re helping them get clothing and supplies for their program.  Sandi called Janet S today to acknowledge the arrival of her recent shipment and during conversation said they were completely out of blankets due to the below zero weather they’ve had recently.  She also said they serve 30 or more clients, not the 10-15 our previous blog reported, and can use clothing up to 3T and diapers in sizes 3 and 4 most needed.  Thank you for the generous and quick response to this new area, please help when you can.  All their needs are in the blog link above.

Well that concludes our updates for now.  People on the Rez are staying inside and at home during this frigid weather that seems never ending unless they have to go to work, school or medical appointments.  Spring should be just around the corner, Jerome High Horse saw his first robin the other day despite the thermometer saying -14, hope that robin made it!

If you don’t like to sew, craft or shop there are still other ways to help.  Monetary donations (tax deductible) to Lakota Friends Circle help us provide diapers, toiletries, baby formula, food etc. to our programs, no donation is too small.  If you’re a shopper with Amazon, shop through Amazon Smile where a percentage of your purchase (no cost to you) is donated to us by Amazon when you choose Lakota Friends Circle as your charitable organization.  We receive a quarterly check from Amazon that we use for food, diapers, etc. for area programs.  We’re so grateful for any help for the children and families we serve.

Thanks from Sew For Kids!