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.
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.