Wanblee Elder Center Needs

It’s taken a while to arrange a phone call with Jerome but we finally managed to coordinate our schedules and he’s given the following information and needs for the elder center in Wanblee.  Julia R, previous director at the center, left her job after serving the tribe for over 20 years.  The elders were without their daily meals at the center until a replacement could be found.  We’re happy to report the center is open once again with Mr. Red Elk as director with his wife, Marilyn Charging Crow, volunteering her time to get the center attendance back to capacity.  During their first week at the center they had less than 25 elders but over the past few weeks the numbers have steadily increased to their present number of 50 to 60 meals a day.  Some elders have their meals delivered as they have no transportation to the center.  Recent tribal statistics report about 750 meals were served each month M-F to elders prior to the three week shutdown.  There’s a total of 47 female and 42 male elders in the Wanblee area.

Volunteer groups from Colorado and Nebraska arrived over the summer to make some much needed improvements to the elder center.  They did structural work to the building, added more lighting, installed more electric heaters, painted the walls and as word got out about the changes more elders started coming every day.  Pictures of the improvements are here. Good, nutritious food and socialization are both important for elders and it’s also a good way for staff to monitor them either in their homes or at the center.  Another group will soon be installing two steel entrance doors which will help with heating costs and make the building more secure preventing theft which can be an issue in high poverty areas.  Jerome is still looking for a group to replace the roof before winter.  The cook stove is still in need of repair or replacement so in the meantime they’re making do with what they have.

When Mr Red Elk arrived he realized there wasn’t a lot of cookware and what they did have was in poor condition so Jerome asked him to make a list of needs which we’ve posted below.  Jerome also said a crock pot, roaster and electric skillet were missing from recently donated items to the center.  Jerome asked Julia about them and she said she took them when she retired as didn’t have those items at home and for now doesn’t plan to return them.  Maybe after 20 plus years of service she felt entitled to a retirement gift?  Many other things sent in like dish towels, silverware, dishes, etc. were given to elders that needed them and we expected that items such as those would be shared with elders in need.  Julia served the elders well during her time as director at the center, every two weeks she made the 220 mile round trip to Pine Ridge to pick up food, plastic utensils, toilet paper, etc. and if supplies ran out before her next trip she bought them herself using her own funds and was not reimbursed.  We make no judgments nor take sides in matters on the Rez and stand by the old Cherokee proverb, “Don’t judge a man until you walk a mile in his shoes”.  And so we move on.

Jerome and Theresa give individual elders and the elder center extra food whenever they receive donations from visiting groups or from Running Strong or NAHA.  They also deliver food to the center when they go to the food bank in Rapid City which adds a little variety to the menu as most of their food is prepared from canned goods.  If the trucks have toiletries or cleaning supplies they try to save some for the elder center.  Hopefully in the future as more gardens get established in the area, elders and the entire community will have access to fresh produce.  Once the community center is finished (SFK donors have already bought the refrigerator and freezers) the food bank in Rapid City will start making deliveries and Wanblee will finally have a food bank center and elders will receive a monthly food box

The following items are on Mr. Elk’s needs list for the elder center.  Anne Fields dropped off 50 plates for the center and many items for the Woodchucks on her recent trip to the Rez which they were delighted to receive.

Elder Center Needs

  • Pots – 2 gallon and XL preferably stainless steel for cooking soup for 50+ people.
  • Prep bowls – Stainless steel in S-XL for cake mixing, salads, etc.
  • Plastic Containers – Medium and larger sizes for food storage.
  • Electric Mixer
  • Crock Pots
  • Roasters
  • Microwave
  • Toaster
  • Coffee Maker – 30 cup
  • Pitchers – Large for Kool-Aid and iced tea.
  • Ladles – For soup, etc. and spaghetti ladle
  • Cutlery – Stainless steel spoons and forks (have lots of knives). Plastic cutlery for home deliveries.
  • Ceiling Fan – for storage pantry
  • Cooling Fans – Floor models on stands
  • Floor Rugs – Commercial type with rubber backs in runner and square/rectangle sizes.
  • Kitchen Linens – Pot holders square and mitt type,  dish towels, dish cloths. hand towels
  • Paper goods – Paper towels, toilet paper, napkins, copy paper
  • Cleaning supplies – Clorox/bleach, Pine Sol, Floor cleaner.


The Ravelry group “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” is doing a special elder project this year for Christmas.  They’re filling a plastic shoe box with toiletries, personal items, gloves, hats, and other needs for each elder in the Wanblee area.  Kat from the charity group, Halfknits, is delivering afghans/blankets they’ve made on her whirlwind trip from Texas to Marty Indian School, Martin and Wanblee, the same trip Anne Fields from Lakota Friends Circle just made from her home in Georgia.  The SFK Yahoo group, Pine Ridge Elders, and SFK  Volunteer  group on Facebook are also working on warm winter items for the elders.  The needs list below is for individual elders in the Wanblee area, both those that come to the center and those that live in the outlying areas without transportation.


  • Blankets – Afghans, quilts, and blankets, twin size.
  • Socks – For men and women, larger tops more desirable for those suffering from diabetes.  Some shoe sizes are 12+ for men and 10+ for women so need larger sock sizes.
  • Hats and Gloves – for winter, hand crafted or purchased, L-XL.
  • Toiletries – Small or hotel sizes, shampoo, lotion, soap, etc. in small bags for easy giving.
  • Incontinence Products – Depends or other brand for men and women in XL.  These are a constant need. Waterproof pads for bed good too.
The community is hoping to have activities such as Bingo games, etc. at the elder center in the near future so we’ll keep you posted as they’ll need “prizes” such as wash cloths, toiletries, kleenex, etc.  We’re keeping a list of donations that you can check before shopping or sending.  Please send all donations to Jerome High Horse  here.  Include a note in your box stating it’s for the elder center and include a SASE if wanting a response and if needing a tax deduction include a charitable deduction form with a note to please sign and return.  If you would like to help the elders but don’t have time for shopping you can give a monetary donation to Lakota Friends Circle here.  Please make a notation where you want your donation used.  If you’re a Facebook user you’re welcome to join our active group here.
Thank you for continuing to support elders on the Rez.  Many of them are raising grandchildren, volunteering their time in schools and their communities, never receiving recognition and even going hungry when there isn’t enough food to go around.  We think it’s time to help those who give so much but receive (and expect) so little.
Thank you from Sew For Kids.



September/October Projects

Temps on the Rez are still in the 70’s and 80’s but will soon be on the downward slide as fall and winter approach.  This time of the year is when our areas need the most help.  Marty Indian School in Marty, My Space Youth Center and Sacred Shawl Society/CDC in Martin and the community of Wanblee and surrounding areas will all need our help to ensure children and families stay warm this winter.  Kids always love the first snowfall and enjoy playing in it with their friends sledding, building snowmen and throwing snowballs but a lot of them don’t have coats or boots and go out wearing just a hoodie and a pair of tennis shoes, most likely with no socks!  When their fingers are frozen and they head inside to get warm many of them go into a home with little or no heat.

It’s all about priority on the Rez, some families will delay filling the propane tank in order to buy food, medicine or other emergency needs.  An already meager budget is strained to the breaking point in winter when electric bills are much higher, more propane is needed for heating and family members are returning home from their seasonal jobs which means more mouths to feed and the loss of their income to help support the family. There are very few jobs on the Rez, most are employed at the BIA or other government office or seasonally at construction sites, ranches or by the National Park Service.  Fortunately kids are in school most days where they can stay warm and get breakfast and lunch and sometimes an afternoon snack before they head home for the night.  For many children this is their last meal for the day as there won’t be supper waiting for them at home.

Propane companies deliver a minimum of $150 of fuel and that may only last a few weeks in poorly insulated homes with doors and windows in bad disrepair.  A full tank of propane can cost upwards of $700, an impossible amount for most families to come up with.  They do try to cover windows with plastic or heavy blankets, if they have them, but the cold winds still find their way through any small cracks and especially through the floors of trailers without skirting.  Heat is kept as low as possible at night to keep pipes from freezing to conserve but that puts people at risk for hypothermia, especially children, elders and those that are suffering from chronic illnesses.

We don’t know if funds for the LIHEAP heating program will be cut again this year but we’re hoping not as the people that receive those funds are among the poorest in the country, including our families on the Rez.  The amount of help each person receives has been decreasing every year making an already bad situation much worse.

Our project for the next 2 months is reserved for warm winter clothing and blankets. Many members of our group as well as the Ravelry group, Halfknits and FOPRR work on winter needs most of the year so they’re prepared to send when temperatures begin to drop.

September/October  Warm Winter Gear

  • Winter coats, buntings for babies, snow pants, hoodies, fleece pullovers and sweaters, sweatshirts and sweatpants, ponchos, shawls, sleep sacks for babies, warm flannel/fleece pj’s, long underwear, fleece lined leggings, and anything else warm and suitable for layering in sizes infant through adult.
  • Gloves, mittens (fingerless too), scarves, cowls, hats.  Crafters get out your crochet hooks and knitting needles, sewers can make them from fleece, shoppers can buy ready made.
  • Boots and shoes suitable for winter, warm socks, slippers either hand crafted or purchased.  Keeping extremities warm is essential, even more important for the elderly and diabetics.
  • Warm blankets…. twin to queen size for beds, smaller for kids to wrap up in.

Check your closets for extra or outgrown coats, ask friends and family to check theirs too, visit thrift stores and the fall garage sales.  When packing your boxes consider adding some items to make hot drinks such as tea bags, coffee, hot chocolate and also nutritious snacks to provide some extra calories to burn to maintain body heat.

This is also the time we set aside to make or buy warm pajamas for kids so they’re not sleeping in their street clothes.  Many kids have very few changes of clothes and the ones they have may not have been laundered for a while, sleeping in dirty clothes that might be worn to school the next day does nothing for a child’s dignity or self esteem.  Sleeping in street clothes also exposes kids to all the pollutants they’ve been exposed to throughout the day.  We encourage mothers to use warm sleepsacks with layered clothing underneath to keep their babies warm instead of using lots of blankets or sleeping with them, both of which increases the risk of SIDS.  Learning how to use a blanket on an infant correctly can prevent a tragedy from occurring.

In the past we’ve also made pillowcases for the new pillows we bought around this time for the kids but this year we’ve decided to put this project on the Christmas gift list.  Whatever you can do to help, even if it’s only one warm hat or pair of mittens, means there’s one child out there staying warm with your gift.  We are so grateful for all our generous SFK members and for all the groups we partner with.

Please send your donations here,  If you would like to join our working group please visit us on Facebook 




Latest News From Wanblee and the Sacred Shawl/Youth Center


Volunteers from Youthworks  completed their service projects in the Wanblee area and headed back home last month to prepare for the new school year.  Local students also began their school year at Crazy Horse or other tribal school on the Rez or Kadoka, a public school off the Rez.  Those attending school out of town have a long day and must get up early to catch the bus for their long commute which means they also arrive home much later than other kids.  Some backpacks and school supplies were donated and handed out but more supplies will be needed as the year progresses.

Jerome High Horse experienced health problems for part of July and August so a lot of projects were put on hold.  Things are slowly getting back to normal but his family is still dealing with the grief of losing 5 family members to a car accident this summer.  Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with them during their time of healing.

Julia, director of the elder center and an elder herself, resigned after many years of service to the community and they’re busy searching for her replacement.  Volunteer groups from Nebraska and Colorado came and helped rehab the elder center.  The lighting, heating and fans were repaired and are now in working order, the floor was replaced, walls were repainted a lighter color and the building was lifted back into place where it had fallen.  They added other special touches to make it more appealing and homey for the elders by adding curtains, a sofa, chairs and tables, some of which SFK members helped provide. Take a look at Families Working Together ‘s photos. Another group is planning to install a new entrance door and secondary door which will help keep the cold winds out when entering the building in winter.  A new cook stove and other items are still needed and as soon as we have a current needs list and more information about the stove we’ll let you know.

Crary Brothers donated a small tractor which will be used for mowing grass to keep rattlesnakes away from homes and for tilling and other jobs in the future expanded garden.

The Ravelry group “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation ”  makes hand knitted or crocheted hats, mittens, scarves for kids on the Rez and also helps with many other needs families have.  They also love to help elders and have a project this year to assemble shoe box Christmas gifts for the 90-100 elders in the Wanblee community.  They could still use help so if you’d like to help them reach their goal there’s more information here.

A generous donation of food containing bread,  canned goods and fresh produce came from a group – Colorado Nation to Nation Ministries last month, food boxes were made up by Jerome and his crew for all the elders in the community and for some other families in need and delivered with the help of funds for gas from Lakota Friends Circle to those who could not get to the community site.  Lakota Friends Circle provided gas money for Jerome  again this week to pick up another load of food from Running Strong  in Manderson which was distributed to families in Wanblee and the surrounding areas.  As winter approaches food becomes a critical need for families living in homes that are substandard and which may not be heated for part of the winter due to finances.  More calories are required to maintain body temperature in winter and those without adequate food have an elevated risk of dying from hypothermia.


Work on the Wanblee community center  continues but they can not finish the building  as the estimate to hook up the sewer and water is around $6,000.  Jerome is currently looking for help with labor and materials for the project.  Here are some pictures of recent the building from the Families Working Together site. Hopefully we’ll have more news in the next blog on their progress.

Martin Updates

Kids are back to school in Martin or at other tribal or public schools in the area. All the backpacks and school supplies that came in were distributed to the kids but supplies will need replacing as they’re used up.  Kimmie is always busy checking with kids in the community to see if they have what they need for school.  After school kids are hungry and many head to the youth center to have a snack, play, read or finish homework.  Your monthly donations to our fund at Lakota Friends Circle provides these snacks as well as milk, eggs, bread, cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables and other food items Kimmie can’t get from the food bank in Rapid City.  Your generosity is making a difference!

Lots of books are being donated to the youth center’s library and the kids will be thrilled with all the choices they’ll have for reading material.   The center has a youth director on duty to oversee the kids and local volunteers from the community also help out.  Kimmie says  the kids that come from troubled homes are always there and she keeps a close eye on them and makes sure they have adequate clothing, school supplies, toiletries, blankets, etc.  She wants you all to know that helping these kids or the families at the shelter wouldn’t happen without the help of your generous donations.   Many on the Rez know of the good work Kimmie does and have asked for her help with their needs.


The garden project was a great success and they’re harvesting the fruits of their labor.  The biggest hurdle now is to find recipes to make dishes using their vegetables that are appealing to the kids.  Most kids have never eaten zucchini or many other garden veggies so it will take time to change their food habits.   Janet, co-administrator at SFK, dropped off donations at the shelter this summer on her way to work at Re-Member and said she’d never seen such a wonderful garden design.  She said her pictures didn’t do it justice, you just had to be there.  Recently one of the kids said to “Auntie Kim” that he just loved the way she was making the youth center and the garden so nice for them.  Kimmie then received a big hug from this sweet boy which we imagine melted her heart.


This weekend the youth center will be holding a “harvesting party” and cookout where they’ll pick and cook some of the veggies they’ve grown this summer and get the garden ready for winter.  The kids are getting excited about the party and are always eager to help Kimmie with chores whenever asked.

Kimmie is also looking into setting up a bowling group for the kids at the local Martin bowling alley.  She’s thinking of setting up 4 groups with 4-5 kids in each to start with plans for more if it works out.  They’re having a Halloween party in October so lots of fun activities coming up for the kids.  Kimmie will soon start planning for Christmas and we’ll let you know asap how SFK can help.  She said many of the things you’ve sent have already been put aside for gifts.

Women are still coming to the CDC at the end of the month in need of formula and diapers for their babies.  SFK is supplying some of these needs every month but we don’t have enough donations to keep up with all their needs.  A small can of powdered formula and some disposable diapers are given to each client if they have them.  They’re also given cloth diapers and covers and shown how to use and care for them.  So many of the moms are young so Kimmie tries to review their budgets with them to see how they can stretch their money.  A record is kept for each client to keep track of their visits and supplies received.  They do receive some diapers from the NAHA or Christian Relief trucks that come in, but there’s no regular delivery times and the shipments never have sizes 3-5 that are most needed.  Toiletries for all ages and sanitary items for women continue to be  high needs both at the shelter and those coming to the CDC office looking for help.  If you would like to help SFK supply food, diapers, formula, toiletries and other critical needs please make a donation to our fund at Lakota Friends Circle as a one time or recurring donation, no amount is too small, $5 can really help.  Those preferring to mail their donations can send here to the Sacred Shawl.  Thank you for your generosity however you choose to help!

Nurses from Bright Start and advocates from the rape crisis center came and picked up their monthly bags for women and babies in need. Kimmie is getting a current list of needs from them and we’ll be posting that information soon.  In the meantime be on the lookout for elastic waist pants such as sweats, underwear, socks, shoes, hotel size toiletries, etc. for women and sleepers, receiving blankets, warm buntings, etc. for babies and tote bags for both.

Kimmie says she’s back to trying to get money to run the shelter from the federal grant she received to operate the shelter for 3 years.   Because tribal staff in Pine Ridge keeps changing, she’s always behind receiving the money as new people learn the job.  She’s sincerely told me several times that she doesn’t know how she could’ve kept the shelter open without the help of SFK, the Ravelry group and a few others.  She is so grateful to each and every one of you!   Most of her budget is used for employee salaries, food and transportation costs to drive women to medical and legal appointments in Pine Ridge and Rapid City which leaves nothing for clothing or other client needs.

Adding to the frustration is she’s had so many clients with children at the shelter lately.  Thirteen kids and 6 moms with issues can be overwhelming at times in a small shelter but she doesn’t have anywhere else to send them and she hates to turn anyone away that needs help.  She said she  couldn’t deal with the guilt if something happened to them.  They’re still working on a response team to share the work load, hopefully that happens soon.  Kimmie’s hoping the $20,000 grant she received will come in soon so they can finish the rooms above the garage and replace some of the worn furniture.  They will keep the old furniture if still usable to give to clients leaving the shelter for a new house or apartment.  .

Kimmie got a grant from NOVA and from a Native American organization to continue the coming of age ceremonies for girls and boys.  She has opened up the ceremony to any girls on the Rez who want to participate with one stipulation, they must attend the majority of the meetings before the 4 day event so they’re ready to take that step when the day arrives.  They’re making dresses and are also considering ribbon skirts after hearing about the skirt project at Marty Indian School.  Among Janet’s donations this summer were 3 sewing machines that will be used for the project and the new grant will help pay for some of the sewing supplies. Thank you Janet.

Malverne Bible Church  recently donated 140 pairs of kids pajamas in sizes 5-7, 50 for boys and 90 for girls. They were given a donation of clothing from a generous member of their congregation who owns an Import/Export company which had many unclaimed items. They were selling those items to make money for Helping Hands of Malverne for their Operation Christmas Child Project. Kathy Carpino , the secretary and wife of Pastor Thomas Carpino who has been at the church for 23 years , found our site and noticed that we needed PJs and could not possibly sell all the items. She contacted Anne Fields , Director at Lakota Friends Circle and asked if we would like them. Of course we did and knew Kimmie Clausen , director of the Sacred Shawl would too.  Kimmie kept some for the shelter but also added a pair to the bags she made up from your donations for the kids back to school bags.  Lots of children don’t have pajamas and sleep in their street clothes.  Many thanks to the church group for their generous contribution!

Halfknits, a knit and crochet group from Dallas, have finished their items for the Rez this year and a friend of the group is going to Mt. Rushmore soon and has offered to deliver the afghans, baby items and shawls for the elders to Kimmie.  A big thanks to this wonderful group for all their work this year and in all the previous years, they’ve been providing warm blankets to the Rez since 2004!

Speaking of warm items, September is here and we’ll be starting our Winter Warmth Projects soon for our 3 donation areas, more information in a new blog shortly. Thanks from Sew For Kids for all the wonderful items that have come in over the past 2 month for our Back to School drive. You do make a difference to the kids and families we help. If you are interested in joining our working groups , you can find us on facebook and yahoo.

Seeing all of the devastation going on now in Texas and soon Florida, I think how hard it is for those families and all the time and money it will take for them to recover and return to some kind of normalcy.  They need so many of the things our Rez families are always in need of  so please think of donating something to them as well. Tragedy can happen to any of us and we depend on the good hearts of people in our communities to help.   Thank you!






Marty Indian School Update


Teachers returned to Marty Indian School two weeks ago to prepare their classrooms for the new school year beginning August 21.  Teachers met with the new elementary principal, Mr. George Erdahl, and new school superintendent, Gina Curran, who was promoted from her previous job of principal to her new position where she will oversee the entire school. Kids are always excited to get back to school to see all their friends but for these children it also means receiving regular meals at breakfast and lunch and help with other needs they did without over the summer.

Janet S., co-administrator of Sew For Kids, visited the school a few weeks ago  and delivered 4 sewing machines for Paulita’s sewing project, books and school supplies for the third grade and clothing, shoes, jackets and many other things for the Feather Store.  Mr. Erdahl gave Janet and her husband a quick tour of the school and they left with a very good  impression of both him and the school.  We’re sharing some of their pictures and pictures from Penny N visit last year  below.  I’ve since had a nice conversation with the principal and found him to be very friendly and personable and feel our group will have a good working relationship as we did with Gina last year.  He was very grateful for any help we can provide for his elementary students.


Sew For Kids volunteers have been busy this summer shopping sales for school supplies and shoes and sewing pencil cases and backpacks.    Many volunteers have already shipped their donations and others will be sending theirs soon.  Toiletries such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc. are always needed and can be sent anytime. Instead of sending these heavier items consider saving shipping costs by making a tax deductible donation to our mother organization, Lakota Friends Circle. Use the PayPal link on the site to make a monthly or one time donation and state how your gift is to be used. Anne Fields the Director of LFC  will either place a large order online getting free shipping or send a check to the school for Mr. Erdahl or Paulita to purchase goods locally at Wal-Mart. We’re not discouraging you from sending toiletries on your own but we’re always looking for ways to save our very generous donors money whenever we can and this is a great way to get more purchasing power.  Your donations to the SFK fund gave Anne the funds she needed to send an order of granola bars and shampoo to the school, requested by the new principal.  Please look at the picture of the Feather room, shelves are fully stocked for today’s returning students, a big thanks to all donors!

This year all toiletries and snacks arriving at the school will be stored in the main storage area where teachers can go to get what they need. The staff at Marty strives to maintain a child’s dignity so those at risk are taken privately from their class and given food and toiletries to take home, have their clothes laundered, given an outfit of clothing from the Feather Store and taken to the dorms for a shower if needed. Students found to have head lice are treated at the school for a two week period.  Towels and washcloths are always in short supply so if you find a good sale or are replacing yours they would love to have them. For those of you just joining us you can read more about the Feather Store here and here.  Closer to the holidays they have a Christmas Feather Store where students can shop for gifts for their families with feathers they’ve earned.  More information about this special store coming in a future blog.  Parents also earn feathers when their children do and can use them in the store to purchase clothing, toiletries and other items for their family. Getting parents into the school and involved with their children’s education is something the school has worked very hard on and now many classrooms have great attendance at parent-teacher conferences.   Having the Feather store is another way to get parents to visit the school and develop a rapport with staff so they feel comfortable attending school activities.  Lanetta S quilted a map of the USA and marked each of the volunteers’ location in the USA, Canada or Ireland on the quilt with a  button. And she added a note on the back where the items came from. Maybe this will hang near the Feather room? Thank you Lanetta.


Feather Store Ongoing Needs:

  • Shoes/Boots – Athletic type or other sturdy shoes suitable for school, snow or hiking type boots.
  • Socks and underwear -new only
  • Toiletries – bar soap, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, nail clippers, combs and brushes
  • Linens – towels and washcloths, pillows, pillowcases, sheets, dish towels and dish cloths
  • Clothing – Pants, shirts, dresses, skirts, leggings, tops, hoodies, sweatshirts, jackets, winter coats, pajamas, slippers.
  • Toys – board games, dolls, cars, books, football, soccer and basketballs, coloring and activity books. Anything suitable for children k-5 without batteries.
  • School and art supplies – Drawing, notebook and construction paper, colored pencils, crayons and markers, pencils, pencil sharpeners, pens, glue and glue sticks, rulers, stencils, etc.

All clothing, shoes, etc. above to fit children grades k-5, keep in mind some of the children in the upper grades may wear adult sizes. Since parents can also shop at the store adult sizes/styles are welcome as well as books and other items geared toward adults. Please read our donation guidelines here.  Items on this list are generally needed throughout the school year, keeping in mind the season, however we will be posting lists of items in short supply.  Below is a list of current needs, items in bold are a constant need and always in short supply.

  • Toiletries – see list above
  • Snacks – granola bars, fruit snacks, crackers, and other healthy items.
  • Winter Gear – warm hats, mittens, gloves and scarves
  • Pajamas – all sizes
  • Socks and underwear – new only
  • Pillows and pillowcases – pillows should be new or very gently used and freshly laundered.
  • Blankets – afghans, quilts, fleece, etc., anything warm.
  • Towels and washcloths – new or used in good condition.
  • Winter coats – all sizes

Our Teacher/Room Parent program is on again for this school year with a few changes to make things run a little smoother. Gina said students grades, test scores and attendance were up last year and that our program really made a difference. We have either one or two room parents per class and can always use more if you’re interested. If a teacher has a special project that requires more resources, our main group is ready to help out. Most of the group will mainly be sending things to the Feather Store but is on standby for any special requests if needed. Room parents are there to make kids feel special through the school year by recognizing their birthdays with a small gift and card, gifts at Christmas, treats and craft activities for class parties on Halloween, Christmas and other holidays. We all know teachers take from their own pockets to buy things for their class so we want to help lessen that burden.


Check with your teacher to see if they have a treasure box in their room to reward kids that work really hard or show good behavior and manners. Some kids have developmental or behavioral issues due to women using drugs or alcohol during pregnancy and many other reasons.  Others may come from dysfunctional or overcrowded homes or live in poverty and must deal with all the issues these problems bring. Teachers like to recognize students birthdays by having a small party with a treat and small gift. Many children’s birthdays go unnoticed at home so this is a chance to make them feel special for the day. Each room parent will receive a picture of their class and teacher, a monthly school newsletter, and have regular communication with the teacher via email or other means so you know how best to help. Please share stories and pictures with your class so students will get to know you and maybe the kids will do likewise.

Sew For Kids is absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Paulita Drapeau as she begins teaching a new sewing class to students, their first project is a traditional ribbon skirt. This project is a dream come true for us as a sewing group and since our beginning we’ve been hoping someone would teach children on the Rez how to sew.  Paulita is that special person we’ve been hoping to find and our volunteers have been busy filling her wish list. To learn more about this wonderful project and help with supplies please read this blog. Paulita will begin her sewing classes with 3 or 4 students held in the first hour of the school day.  She also plans to get elders and aunties from the community involved in the classes to help the students, something we’re delighted to see.  In addition to sewing Paulita is a talented crafter so we’re really excited to follow her project and see student’s finished skirts which we’ll be sharing with all of you.


All donations to the school should be shipped to this address. Since all boxes will now go through the main office make a note on your box if it’s for a certain class/teacher, the feather store or to Paulita for the sewing project. If you wish a response please send a SASE, for a charitable tax deduction fill out this form or design your own with the information and include in your box keeping a copy for yourself in case it gets misplaced. The school will sign and return to you for your records.

Other great ways you can help…..sending Box Tops for Education to the school so they can purchase special things and if you’re an Amazon shopper make sure to use Amazon Smile and enter “Lakota Friends Circle”, they will donate 0.5% of your order to SFK which gives us more funds to use for school needs.

The pictures below are some of the wonderful things that are headed to the school from our talented group. There are many more items sent that we never get photos of but this is a sample of the work of this wonderful group of volunteers.


We’re looking forward to the new school year at Marty Indian School, may it be a fun and successful year for everyone involved. Please join us on Face Book here for friendly conversation, pattern sharing, help with projects and more. As always thanks from Sew For Kids.






Marty Indian School Sewing Project

Last year we started helping Marty Indian School in Marty, SD with school supplies and stocking their Feather Store with clothing, toiletries, toys and other things students can purchase with feathers they earn for good behavior and attendance.  Several of our members participated in a room parent project which will continue this year. Those of you just joining us please read our July and August blogs from last year to learn more about the school.

This year we’ve been asked for our help with starting a sewing program for girls, and boys if they’re interested.  Feather Store manager and teaching assistant, Paulita Drapeau, who is also a very talented seamstress and crafter, would like to teach a sewing class for  students this school year.  Those of us that learned to sew in Home Ec class back in the day can remember how exciting it was to finish our first skirt or pair of shorts.  We also learned how to use an iron and mend our clothes and for some of us it was the beginning of our love affair with sewing and creating.   We want to help Paulita give the students at Marty the same opportunity we had to learn a new skill and maybe they’ll develop their own love for sewing.  Students now have the advantage of computers with YouTube videos, Pinterest, sewing blogs, and many other craft sites that provide an endless stream of free patterns and ideas to stimulate their creativity, the sky’s the limit!

Paulita is expecting 30 students to participate and their first project will be learning to make a ribbon skirt.  Women and girls wear these skirts to Pow Wow’s during the summer months although they may be worn any time of the year. While girls will most likely make up the majority of the class, boys are welcome to join in and make a skirt for their sister etc  They will need sewing machines, irons, fabric, thread, notions and ribbon.  We may apply to the Sewing Machine Project to see if they can help but the form has lots of questions that need answering before they would consider us. In the meantime Janet S. is visiting the Rez this summer and will be delivering 3 classic sewing machines to the school.  Janet is a collector of vintage machines and picks up most of them at garage sales and resale shops for less than $20.  They are easy to operate and maintain, very reliable and can take the abuse new students may give them.  I think we might get some from Nancy M too.  If you would like to donate a basic non-computerized machine please contact Janet here.  Thank you Janet for your donation of 3 of these machines.


Sewing Project Needs

  • Sewing machines – in good working order….non-computerized.  Please include bobbins if a special size is required.
  • Ribbon – Washable satin ribbon 7/8″, 1″, 1.5″  all colors and small prints,  minimum usable length is 1 yard
  • Fabric – Dress/quilting weight cotton or blend in solids or small prints, 2-3 yards per skirt depending on size.
  • Irons, etc. – Steam irons in good working condition, ironing boards with covers
  • Scissors – Dressmaker shears 7-8″, small scissors or thread snips.
  • Elastic – Non-roll 1″
  • Notions – Heat n Bond Lite, sewing machine needles, hand sewing needles, pins, pin cushions, good quality thread, seam gauges, tape measures, seam rippers, wash out chalk pencils, bobbins class 15 and 66, bobbin boxes, tins or baskets with lids for students to store supplies.

Please send your donations to Marty Indian School (scroll down) with a note stating it’s for the ribbon skirt project.   Please add your donations to our spreadsheet.

We’re really excited about this program as it’s taken quite a while to get groups on the Rez working together on a sewing project and we’re so happy kids are still interested in learning to sew.  We’ll keep you updated on their progress and hopefully they’ll share pictures of their skirts with us.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.

Marty Indian School Room Parent Program

We began the room parent program at Marty last year at the request of elementary school principal, Gina Curran.  She was looking for help with supplying classroom needs and help in stocking the Feather Store with clothing, toiletries, school supplies, toys and other items students “buy” with feathers they earn for good behavior, attendance, and exhibiting Lakota values.   Teachers are given a budget at the beginning of the year to buy supplies for their class but once those are used up and the fund is exhausted the only options are to take from their own pockets or do without which is why we decided to help. Since this is a tribal school, kids attending these schools are very poor and can not buy any school supplies so the school buys for all at the beginning of the year.  Last year was a wonderful learning experience for all of us and half of our volunteers have decided to return for another year.  The other half are continuing their support but prefer to donate to the school’s Feather Store.  Two volunteers were assigned to each class K-5 and mainly helped with providing school supplies, small gift items for birthdays, snacks, and craft supplies for seasonal or special craft projects.  The classes are small, usually around 15 or 16 with most grades losing a few students throughout the year.  We have the following openings for the 2017/18 school year:

  • Kindergarten – 2 people
  • Grade 1 -1 person
  • Grade 2-1 person
  • Grade 3- 1 person
  • Grade 5 -1 person

We can have more than 2 room parents per class . Maybe  you have a group of friends who want to help kids in a  class and one or 2 of you elect to talk with the teacher.  You’ll be communicating directly with your teacher via email or phone and  receive a picture of your class and teacher.  We suggest you send them a photo of yourself (and pets!) and a note telling them a little about yourself and why you want to help their class.  Send a card occasionally for the teacher to read to the class.  Teachers will acknowledge your donations shortly after arrival and you can learn what your class is doing through the school’s monthly newsletter.  Gina is setting up time the first week of August when teachers arrive back at school so they can call and talk with their room parents.  At that time you can decide how you all wish to communicate throughout the year and how often.  Gina’s hoping there will be some communication from the teacher on a weekly basis and is providing the extra time to do so.  You’ll also be emailing (or calling) your partner discussing class needs and coordinating donations.  The school is a 501(c)(3) so all donations are tax deductible, please include a SASE with this completed form and include it in your box.  We suggest notifying your teacher via email that a box is on the way and  state the tentative delivery date if possible, label your box with the classroom as all shipments are delivered to the main office. Take a look at this page for information re sending to the school.

Popular requests last year:

  • Snack foods – such as granola bars, crackers, fruit cups, etc.
  • School supplies – paper, crayons, markers, pencils, glue sticks, etc.
  • Craft supplies – construction paper, pipe cleaners, sequins, beads, yarn, ribbon, pompons and holiday themed craft items.
  • Treasure box – small toys, books, crayons, markers, coloring books, etc. to use as rewards or birthday gifts.
  • Toiletries – shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, sanitary pads, hotel sized toiletries are fine
  • Books – for individual class libraries.
  • Socks and underwear
  • Christmas gifts – popular items were hats, mittens, pillows with pillowcase, blankets.  Many children sleep on the floor.
  • a special need for a child in the class that only that child will receive
  • white board pens for the teacher
  • kleenex, bandaids
  • towel and washcloth  Many do not have one.

Of course you are not expected to send all these items to your class. These were just some of the requests that came up . You decide with the teacher what is most needed. Many of our room parents last year chose to send gift certificates for Walmart and giving direct donations to the school for their class so supplies could be purchased locally saving time and shipping costs.  Another option is to purchase online and have it shipped to a local store such as Walmart or Dollar Tree for pickup by your teacher or school assistant, Paulita.  There are many different ways to help and we present these ideas to you as options, you and your partner decide what’s best for you and your class.

As a room parent if you get a request that’s inappropriate or can’t afford please let us know, we’re here to help and have a group of volunteers standing by to assist when needed.  We also have many supporters that help keep the Feather Store stocked with toiletries, snacks, clothing, and other supplies that can help students.  Please contact Carol here if you’re interested in becoming a room parent for the new school year.  Gina reports attendance and test scores were both up last year and credits this program as one of the reasons for improvement.  Parents also loved the program as their children were able to get school supplies, warm clothing, shoes and many other things they simply can’t afford to provide.

If room parenting isn’t your cup of tea we’re also looking for volunteers to help support the Feather Store including a special section for the holidays where students can go shopping for gifts for family members. That program was a big hit with the kids and they loved to wrap that special something for a family member  Read these blogs here and here.  You can also help by making a donation to Sew For Kids through Lakota Friends Circle so we can purchase food and toiletry items for the school.  If you do make a donation ,please note where it’s to be used. Also if you shop Amazon on line, consider using Amazon Smile as donations for Lakota Friends Circle add up and allow us to help our programs with needs. Another way to help the school is thru the BOX TOPS for Education program. Just make sure if you send them that the coupons are not out of date. Thank you.

However you decide to help the kids whether it’s by becoming a room parent, giving a donation to SFK or sending goods to the Feather Store, your help is much appreciated by us and by principal Gina Curran and will make a difference to the students at Marty Indian School.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids. If you are interested in working on projects with a group, join us on Facebook at Sew For Kids Volunteers.

July-August Projects

It’s that time again, running a little behind schedule as usual,  but we’re always eager to begin a new project.  Our yearly project schedule was posted last December and we do try to follow it as best we can, but special requests and emergencies do come up from time to time.  We like to post a year’s worth of projects so you can look ahead to see what’s needed and find another project if the current one doesn’t interest you or you don’t have a particular skill.  Looking ahead lets you shop ahead and take advantage of summer garage sales and store clearance sales.  This month and next we’re concentrating on everything for back to school.  School supplies are or will be on sale starting this month and summer clothing will be on the clearance racks.  For our sewers purchase a top and make the pants/skirt or vice versa.  For parents or grandparents of school age children, time to clean out the closets of outgrown clothing and send to the Rez for children in need.

   School Supplies

  • Paper – loose leaf, notebooks, construction, unlined, folders and  safety scissors.
  • Pencils – plain and fancy, colored, pencil sharpeners, pencil cases, pens, erasers, rulers.
  • Crayons – and markers both thick and fine line.
  • Glue – sticks and bottles of Elmer’s.
  • Backpacks – purchased new or good used condition, home sewn too.

School Clothing 4T through 16/18

  • Clothing – Pants, shirts, T shirts, skirts, dresses/jumpers with leggings for cooler weather, light jackets or hoodies
  • Socks/Underwear, Pajamas –  Underwear new only please.
  • Shoes – Sturdier shoes are best as most don’t have winter boots.  In sizes to fit K through grade 5 kids.

The new school year begins the 2nd or 3rd week of August in many areas, teachers will arrive a week before.  Although colder weather usually begins in October, mornings and evenings can be cool in September.  Shorts can still be worn for a month or so and after that may be used for gym class.  As winter approaches girls will end up in jeans, but earlier in the school year they love to wear skirts and dresses.  Light outerwear such as hoodies, fleece jackets and sweaters are worn until late October when the temps dip and heavier winter coats are wished for.

Socks and underwear are a continual need regardless of the season so watch for sales and stock up when the prices are low.  Kids need at least 2-3 pairs each of underwear and socks so they can wash and dry the extras nightly and always have a clean pair ready.  My kids thought turning them inside out added another day of wear!

Shoes are always needed by children as they’re rapidly outgrowing them, sometimes several times a year.  Ideally we would like every child to have a new pair of shoes but we know that’s not going to happen with a small (although extremely generous!) group.   Look for shoes and boots in good condition at garage sales, thrifts, or your own closet, maybe your kids have outgrown theirs over the summer.  Most kids don’t own a pair of boots which is why extra socks are needed, they get wet feet walking to school and playing outside in the rain and snow.  Slippers would be ideal for kids to put on when they get home from school and are an easy, portable project for knitters and crocheters.

Last but certainly not least are pajamas.  This is considered a luxury item and kids get really excited when they get a pair.  Buy a long sleeve T shirt and make the pants from flannel or fleece.  Make a pillowcase too and send along with the PJ’s, they can always stuff it with clothes to make a pillow if they don’t have one.

Kimmie Clausen, Director of My Space Youth Center and the Sacred Shawl Domestic Abuse Center in Martin likes to have clothing and school supplies available to give out to children when school begins.  Kids who are at the shelter more than 2 or 3 days are sent to school in Martin or bused to their home school if the distance is manageable.  Kimmie knows which kids in the community are most in need and makes sure they’re outfitted for school, that is if she gets enough donations.  Any surplus goes to the youth center where kids finish their homework and also to the local school for students in need.

Marty Indian school will put all donations in the Feather Store for students to earn through their feather points.  Any child arriving without supplies will be given what they need to start school from the store.

Wanblee usually gets a shipment from Running Strong for school that includes shoes, backpacks and some school supplies.  They might get a delivery from NAHA containing some school supplies and clothing but it’s really hit or miss.  Other donations received are from Families Working Together from Wisconsin that helps with Christmas and Easter and is helping build the new community center.

With continually rising shipping costs free is best, ask friends, family, church members and co-workers for donations.  Some of our members have gotten items free or at bargain prices from garage sales when they tell people about their cause.

Well that should be enough to keep everyone busy for the next two months!  We are so grateful to each and every one of you that has chosen to help the children of Pine Ridge and Marty Indian School.  Your hearts are big and your talents are awesome, thank you!!!  If you want to join our working group, join us at Sew For Kids Volunteers on Facebook.

Please send your donations to the area of your choice here