November is here and that means Christmas is right around the corner and time to start shopping for gifts or finishing up projects for the children in the areas we sponsor. This is the fourth year for the doll program began by SFK member Penny N and it’s bigger and better than ever! Members are having fun putting the finishing touches on their wardrobes and doll carriers, we see lots of happy girls in the forecast! Wanblee’s party and “Festival of Lights” is usually the second Saturday in December. The Martin community party is the weekend before Christmas and the shelter has a dinner on Christmas day. Marty Indian School will begin their Christmas vacation on Friday, December 21, class parties will be held earlier in the week.
Christmas is a magical time for children, they get excited about seeing Santa and wondering what he may bring them, maybe a doll, a new basketball, art supplies or a fun game. Elders receive special gifts too, mainly items to keep them warm like gloves, scarves and afghans, but they’re so needed and appreciated. Many elders live in poorly heated homes and are at risk for hypothermia, more so if they suffer from diabetes. Thank you for thinking of them this Christmas season.
Wanblee begins their Christmas celebration with the annual “Parade of Lights”, where Santa makes his arrival to town. Those in attendance will enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while watching the parade. Afterwards Santa and his elves will set up shop in the community center by the Christmas tree where children will line up and wait for their special time with Santa. Kids will also receive a goodie bag with fresh fruit, nuts and candy sponsored by members of SFK. Many people come from other parts of the Rez and even from Rosebud Reservation to share in this special event, crowds have been as large as 500 in past years. Thanks to everyone’s generosity, there are usually enough gifts left after the party for Jerome and his helpers to deliver some holiday cheer to families that couldn’t come to the celebration. Many people in the outlying areas would love to come to the party but just don’t have the transportation. The elder center in Wanblee also has a party and dinner for their clients held either at the center or at Crazy Horse school. Members from Brenda B’s Ravelry group “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” are once again providing gifts for the 100 Wanblee elders that will be given out at their party. Many, many thanks to this wonderful group of ladies for their continued generosity!
Martin – The Sacred Shawl Society’s women’s shelter decorates a tree and provides dinner and gifts on Christmas day for the clients that unfortunately have to leave their homes over the holidays. Holidays can be a stressful time for many families as children are not in school so don’t get the two meals provided by the school food program which strains an already meager food budget, homes are cold because propane is expensive and they don’t have the means to purchase any and in some homes alcohol and drugs are an issue. Shelter director, Kimmie Clausen, and her staff try their best to make Christmas special for the children.
Kids at the youth center and the rest of the Native American community in Martin will have a community dinner, gifts will be provided for children of all ages and for elders. Unfortunately they ran out of food last year due to the large crowd so they’re planning to cook much more this year to make sure everyone is fed. Kimmie saves things from our regular donations throughout the year to use for Christmas gifts but our generous SFK members along with other groups we partner with also send Christmas gifts for the shelter, youth center and other kids in the area. They try to include a book with each of their gifts to encourage kids to read or have their parents read to them. If there are children’s gifts left after the party they will be given to foster children in a group home which may be their only gift. If Kimmie receives enough gift items appropriate for elders she will take them to the two nursing homes on the Rez. Many of the elders don’t have a lot of visitors so are always happy to see Kimmie.
Marty Indian School will have a Christmas program and individual classes will have parties where they’ll receive gifts from their SFK room parents. Other SFK members and those of our partner groups are sending gift items to stock the Feather Store so children can shop for gifts for their family members using feathers they’ve earned for good behavior and exhibiting Dakota values. Students will also be making gifts in their classrooms and in their sewing classes with Paulita D.
Bright Start nurse Mary M. who visits at risk mothers and their children will deliver gifts that one of our SFK members has provided for them. Thank you Brenda B for sending a book, blanket and stuffie for each baby! Many other members have been making or buying warm blankets and clothing to help keep babies warm this winter. Newborns, infants, and young children are more likely to develop hypothermia because they have a larger surface area compared to body weight so they can lose body heat faster than older children and adults.
Gift Ideas For Kids
- Dolls, stuffed animals, craft kits and supplies
- Books for all ages
- Art supplies such as crayons, drawing pads, coloring books, colored pencils, etc.
- Play-doh, games and puzzles
- Sports balls such as basketballs, soccer balls, etc.
- Cars and trucks, action figures, spinners
- Hair supplies, nail polish, make-up, lotion, perfume, purses, etc.
- Deodorant, shampoo, soap and other toiletries,
- Socks and underwear, baseball caps
- Pajamas all sizes
- Hats, scarves, gloves and mittens
- Baby and toddler toys, sleepers, diapers, wipes
- Pillows with pillow case (a continued favorite of kids in all areas)
This list applies to all areas but keep in mind Bright Start’s clients are women and their babies/toddlers, although mothers would greatly appreciate a small gift too.
- Lotion, chap stick, comb/brush, toiletries such as body wash, shampoo, etc.
- Diabetic socks for men and women
- Slippers with no slip soles
- Sugarless candy
- Lap blankets, shawls
- Word search puzzles, large print
Plan to have your gifts arrive at least 10 days before the area’s party date so they can organize and wrap the gifts. If you’re sending to Wanblee they always appreciate wrapped gifts with tags listing gender and age although they will have volunteers available so don’t worry if yours are unwrapped. All shipping addresses are here.
If you would like to help but aren’t a shopper or crafter you can make a tax deductible donation to Lakota Friends Circle to help with the cost of goodie bags for the kids in Wanblee and purchase cookies and hot chocolate for the party. Please note your donation is for the Wanblee party. Any money left over will be used to purchase fuel for vehicles delivering gifts and food to shut-ins. We continue to provide food for the women’s shelter and youth center in Martin and diapers so your continued support through our fund at Lakota Friends Circle is much appreciated. Kimmie says the monthly food we purchase is a godsend to them, it’s something she can count on to help feed the kids. Many thanks to all our donors for making that possible. We always need more donors so please join us if you can.
Warm blankets, accessories, coats, boots and other gear for winter are always needed on the Rez and is the project we’ll continue to work on through the winter months. If you’re a knitter or crocheter and make scarves, hats, mittens or afghans, they would be most appreciated by any of our donation areas.
We are so grateful to all the members of this group and other groups we work with, For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation, Pine Ridge Elders and Halfknits for their generous support through the year but especially at this time of the year. Thank you for taking the time to make a warm blanket, a hat or a pair of mittens to help keep someone warm this winter. Thank you for making or shopping for that perfect gift for a child or an elder. Thank you for helping to make life just a little bit easier for families on the Rez. Bless you for caring!
Thanks from Sew For Kids