Winter Is On The Way

Snow has already fallen in Wanblee, Martin and other areas of Pine Ridge Reservation.  Our September/October project is focused on making or purchasing blankets, warm clothing, coats and accessories for all areas we serve so you can start shipping your completed projects anytime now.  If you’re still shopping or crafting not to worry, blankets and warm clothing will be needed throughout the winter season and we will undoubtedly be asked to help with critical needs as people call for help.  We’ve partnered with some wonderful groups for this project and many others as well, a big thanks to Children of Pine Ridge Reservation, Pine Ridge Elders and Halfknits, for working with us as we try to make winter a little more bearable for Native Americans in South Dakota.  Children of Pine Ridge Reservation has also been helping get school supplies and winter needs to an elementary school on Rosebud Reservation and have raised money to purchase boots for the students which most go through the winter without. Thanks ladies for your generosity!

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The LIHEAP program this year will provide a one time assistance amount of $200 per family, down from $250 last year due to the program cuts in Washington.  Jerome High Horse and the Woodchucks cut wood from rancher’s creeks during the summer and fall months for the 30 families in the community that heat with wood.   Others that heat mainly with propane will soon be making the decision to keep the heat on, pay the electric bill or buy food, they cannot do all three so calls will start coming in for help.  Fortunately Jerome was able to set aside some of the food Wanblee received through Nation to Nation, the hunters who provide venison and fowl for his area, and Running Strong using the refrigerators and freezers SFK and others helped purchase.  Jerome’s also hoping to harvest a buffalo this fall for the freezer which could help feed many families this winter. Also the chickens have finally grown enough to produce eggs so another source of good protein for the people.  Photos from the Families Working Together facebook page

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Running Strong Deliveries

Wanblee News  Local children are having a lot of fun attending cooking classes at the community center.  ” Creative Kids In Grandma’s Kitchen”  SFK volunteers made aprons for the kids, which they loved, but the boys said they were a little too “girly” for them and asked if they could have some “manly” aprons.  Well several members were more than happy to help with that request and they’re already on their way to the boys.  Native American Day (formerly Columbus Day) was celebrated on October 9th.  Elementary students at Crazy Horse school are receiving weekend food bags, made possible by a generous group from Nebraska, on Fridays so they have something to eat over the weekend.  Some SFK members are room parents at Crazy Horse helping a middle school history and social studies teacher with books, school supplies, snacks, etc. Photos 2, 3 and 4 from Families Working Together Facebook page

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Janet S, co-administrator of SFK, visited the community center in September and brought 3 sewing machines for the future sewing group and also many pots and pans, crockpots, microwave, toaster ovens, miscellaneous tools, coats, gloves and flannel shirts for the Woodchucks, a set of Legos for the children’s library and many other things for the center and/or the thrift store.  She toured the thrift store located on the second floor and said it looked like they had gotten in a lot of hangers and racks which will help with organizing and making things more visible for shoppers.  The sewing area will be on the second floor as well.  The library and kitchen are small and Jerome says they’ve already outgrown their space and if funding can be found they plan to enlarge the area by adding a 40 x 60 room.  The building has an area for unloading and packing supplies for outgoing deliveries and the space can also be used to hold parties.  There are two dorm areas each with baths and showers and a small lounge area for volunteers that come to help with community projects throughout the year.  A Halloween party is planned for the end of the month, something the kids really look forward to, they especially love the “ghoul walk” through town.  Jerome will soon be heading to Kansas to pick up a load of donations from SFK member Laurie A and also blankets and other warm items made by Kat B’s group Halfknits.  Gardens won’t be tilled this fall due to the early arrival of winter-like weather and all of Jerome’s traveling but will be tilled in the spring.  An added advantage is the fresh manure they got from ranchers can sit and compost over the winter making it more usable by and preventing burning of delicate new plants.  Photos from Families Working Together Facebook page – dedication but showing you the inside of the building

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Photos from Janet S my co-administrator on Sew For Kids

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Martin  The youth center is open on weekdays from 4-10 pm and weekends noon to 10pm.  Children receive a snack after school and when their homework is finished they can read for an hour, smaller ones are read to, and then can play games or work on computers.  Many kids want to stay overnight as they don’t want to go to a cold or unhappy home but there’s no funding for the extra staff, they barely have enough funding to keep the center open as it is.  In fact Kimmie has to find money to keep the center open this year as the previous donor has decided to help another organization.  Lakota Friends Circle purchased a washer and dryer for the center made possible from a single generous donation of $300 and another $500 donation from a charitable foundation.  Kimmie was delighted to get the new appliances as kids who have dirty clothes and no way to wash them won’t go to school because they’re too embarrassed.  The kids are learning how to do laundry and are allowed to wash one load of their own clothing once a week.  They’re required to shake out their clothing before they come into the center as some live in homes with roaches and they’ve already had to have the center sprayed the first week of the program.  The center will need laundry pods and is something to add to your box if you have room.  The district pays for water, electric and heat for the building so is one less financial burden for Kimmie to worry about.

Janet S made a stop in Martin on her trip to South Dakota bringing lots of shoes, sleeping bags, a Pac n Play, baby carrier, adult games for shelter ladies, backpacks, kitchen items including stainless pots and pans, crock pots, toaster ovens, electric skillets, and other small appliances, and sanitary needs and toiletries generously donated by Carrie F, director of the Women’s Resource Center in Nashville, IN.  Janet also received donations of blankets from Community Closet, a local thrift store in Nashville, which she plans to send to the Rez this winter.  Many thanks to both of these organizations for their generosity!  Janet S’s donations for the shelter and the youth center. Note the dryer Washer had already been installed.

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.   Kimmie has been to many women’s conferences recently and holds programs at public events such as Pow Wow’s to help educate women about domestic violence and sexual assault and give them resources should they become a victim.  She created a poster to display at these events you can see on the Sacred Shawl Society’s Facebook page here.  Kimmie is also a member of the group  Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains  whose vision is to end domestic and sexual violence against Native women.

The women’s shelter currently has a full house which is unfortunate because domestic abuse is such an issue on the Rez, but fortunately victims have a safe haven where they can begin healing.  Kimmie says she and her staff can get to victims who need to leave their abusive homes faster than police who may not come at all due to a shortage of police officers.  It’s extremely difficult for victims of abuse to get help on the Rez which is why the shelter was set up.  There are several women at the shelter who are close to giving birth so they’re very grateful for the baby things donors have sent.  The staff is asking the midwife to give them training on delivering a baby because they recently had a situation where they barely got their client to the hospital in time and they want to be prepared in case roads are closed or impassable in winter weather.  Your donations also help women coming to the CDC office, usually toward the end of the month when their resources have run out, looking for help with diapers and clothing and now looking for something to keep their little ones warm.

Kimmie has been struggling once again with funding issues from the federal government.  Even though she has all her paperwork done and sent to the tribe, the person(s) responsible to send it on to the federal government doesn’t do so in a timely manner which delays her monthly allowance.  It’s hard to pay  employees and feed people when you have no money.  Kimmie had to hire two new staff members because they’ve been operating at full capacity for some time.  The new rooms above the garage are now finished and furnished with a double/twin bunkbed and two dressers made possible by a generous $400 donation from St. Helen’s Church in Hebron, IN.  A special thanks to parishioner Karen Y.  for initiating the drive to collect funds for the women’s shelter.   Photo of the new room above the garage

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Kimmie finally found a large van to purchase for transporting clients to their court and medical appointments.  She bought the van for $8000 using money from a grant she recently applied for and received.  There is seating for 7 people and it’s equipped with car seats for babies and children.  Before this purchase they had to take two staff members and their cars from the shelter which left them short handed and in some cases without transportation until they were finished with appointments  which could take most of the day.  Kimmie says lots of wonderful donations have been arriving and is so very grateful for all your generosity.  She was delighted to hear that warm clothing and some pajamas are heading their way.  The kids loved the quilts Jenny S made and were so excited to receive one, thanks for all your hard work Jenny, it was appreciated!  Foster care has come again to get clothing for those children not yet placed in foster homes and thankfully they had something to give them thanks to everyone’s generosity.  Kimmie has been taking some of your donations to the nursing homes in Martin and White Clay.  Families don’t bring a lot to their elders once they’re placed in homes so the elders are so grateful for the small gifts Kimmie brings them from us.

Marty Indian School is back in the groove and room parents from SFK are busy helping their respective classes.  On September 24 we had two SFK members visit the school, Janet S from IN and Penny N who actually lives about 3 hours away in South Dakota and visits the school twice a year in spring and fall.  Penny took videos of all the classes and posted on our group, it was so exciting seeing all the smiling faces it almost felt like you were there too, thank you Penny!    Both ladies planned to visit the same day so they could meet each other but with all the unloading and visiting with classes going on they actually had very little time to visit.   Paulita gave tours of the Feather store and the sewing room and said the sewing supplies are pretty well stocked but the girls have been asking for fabric in purple and pink and animal prints such as leopard, zebra, etc.  At the time Janet and Penny visited there wasn’t space available to have a separate clothing room as last year so room parents were sending shoes and clothes directly to their classes.  Thankfully that has changed and space has become available to have a clothing and shoe store once again.  They could use our help with winter coats, warm clothing, socks and underwear, boots and shoes in sizes to fit K-5.  Some of the boys in the higher grades can wear S-M adult and shoe sizes up to 7-8.  The main Feather store can use notebooks, folders, backpacks, small toys, books for k-5, Kleenex, sanitary needs, Chapstick, toiletries, healthy snacks, household supplies such as dish soap and detergent.  We can start sending Christmas gifts for the store next month so the kids can shop for gifts for their families.  You can read more about the Feather store in a previous blog here.

The school will have a Fall Festival and the kids will celebrate Halloween in their class rooms.  They were hoping to go to a pumpkin patch but  I am not sure if that happened as if they went, they could not go into the fields for liability reasons. Room parents send extra goodies through the year to their classes to make holidays special.  The school’s budget has been cut so they can only provide snacks to kids 3 times a week so SFK set up a snack fund for the school and raised $500 to provide snacks the other 2 days.  Younger kids especially need a daily snack because they eat lunch at 10:30am  and the school day ends at 3:30 pm so they’re usually ravenous by then.  Thanks to all who donated to the snack fund, we received a very nice thank you note from principal Jolene.

 

Bright Start Mary Mousseau has been really busy with all the new babies arriving and is so thankful for all the wonderful baby supplies you’ve sent her way.  The babies are in need of diapers and wipes so we are starting a Bright Start Fund at Lakota Friends Circle to send a monthly supply to her if we get enough donors.    Please donate if you can.

Well that’s all the news for now, we’ll be starting a new project in November.  Until then continue working on warm items for winter and Christmas gift projects.  We don’t have individual lists for each area but warm clothing and blankets are needed by all the areas we serve, Mary at Bright Start mainly serves babies and their toddler siblings.  Please join our Sew For Kids Volunteer group on Facebook to keep up with ongoing needs.

Other ways to help:  Donate funds through Lakota Friends Circle monthly or a one time donation specifying how you wish your donation to be used……. Marty Indian school  snack fund, perishable foods for the youth center and Women’s Shelter in Martin, diapers and laundry pods for the shelter or diapers for Bright Start.  You can also designate your donation be used for the most critical need.  Other ways to help, save your box tops and send to Marty Indian School for the Box Tops for Education program, and when ordering through Amazon use Amazon Smile and designate Lakota Friends Circle as your charity.  Quarterly funds received from Amazon Smile are used to purchase gas for food and wood deliveries in the Wanblee community.

Thanks from Sew For Kids  to everyone that helps make the lives of children and their families living on Indian reservations in this country just a little bit easier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Warmth Project

Although some of you were just making shorts for the shelter a couple of weeks ago, SFK is now heading into a two month winter readiness project.  It’s still in the 80’s on the Rez but that could change at any time, we’re all experiencing changes in our weather patterns so it’s really hard to predict anything these days.  Kimmie says weather on the Rez has been far from normal for several years now.  What we do know is eventually the weather will change and we want to make sure kids are ready by providing them with warm clothing and blankets to get them through the winter.

Winter is the time we worry most about families on the Rez, they usually spend at least part of the winter without heat.  Many are in survival mode as it is so don’t have a lot of extra money to buy propane.  Funding for LIHEAP, the government heating assistance program, is continually under assault from budget cuts but as far as we know will continue this year with households receiving assistance once during the heating season.  People do what they can to conserve their propane usually by turning the heat down very low which means everyone’s always cold as most homes have no or inadequate insulation and poorly fitting windows (some with missing panes) and doors.  Babies, elders and those with chronic diseases are especially at risk as they have trouble regulating body temperature and are the ones we worry most about in frigid weather.  We also like to make sure the Woodchucks in Wanblee, who are out cutting and delivering wood in the worst weather, are properly dressed so they can safely continue their mission.

We want kids out playing in the snow, (as many of us did, remember?)  getting exercise and letting off steam.  Schools do try to get students out at recess but only if they’re properly dressed so let’s make sure kids in the areas we serve have plenty of warm winter gear so they can participate in all the fun winter activities of building snowmen, forts and having snowball fights.  Anything on the list below can be used as Christmas gifts too, just add a small toy, game or book and you have the perfect gift.  Knitters and crocheters, this is the time of year you and your craft really have the opportunity to shine!

September/October  “Warm Winter Gear”

  1. Outer Wear – Winter coats, buntings/snowsuits for babies, hoodies, fleece pullovers, sweaters, snow pants, ponchos, shawls for elders.  Gloves/mittens, scarves, cowls, hats for sizes infant through adult.  Lots of knitting and crocheting!
  2. Clothing – Warm pants and shirts, sweat/fleece pants and tops and/or warm PJ’s, long underwear and heavy socks, infant through adult.
  3. Boots – Snow, fashion and work boots, waterproof or heavier shoes above the ankle ideal.  Toddler through adult.
  4.  Warm blankets – Quilts, blankets, afghans for babies through adults.  Crib, toddler, twin, double and queen sizes (king sizes are rare).

We continually receive requests for blankets throughout the winter and we’ve never had enough to fill all the needs so if you like to quilt or make afghans our advice is to make all you can.  Elders can’t do much in the winter but stay indoors and would really appreciate the warmth of a lapghan or shawl as would kids sitting around a cold house at night doing their homework.  For our non-crafting friends, good blankets can be found at local thrift stores and don’t forget to ask at your church or club or ask family and friends if they have an extra to donate.

Many of you started working ahead on some of these items so we should be ready to go when the weather starts to change.  Last year kids were seen waiting for the bus in the dead of winter with a sweater or hoodie and no gloves, hats or boots!  Kimmie saw children walking past her office similarly dressed last winter and pulled many of them inside to give them a warm coat and accessories, provided by our generous supporters.  When the Woodchucks deliver wood they alert Jerome and Theresa if they see families in need of warm clothing and blankets. We can only give what we have but fortunately a lot of our group churned out a bunch of hats and mittens last winter to help the kids warm.

If you have a little extra room in your box, consider adding hot chocolate, tea, coffee and soup mixes, they would be greatly appreciated.  Send items to Marty Indian school, Wanblee or the Sacred Shawl Domestic Abuse shelter here . Thank you.  Please join us on our Facebook working group where you’ll meet lots of nice people sharing ideas and patterns and brainstorming about ways we can help children on SD Reservations.  When you make or buy something for a child on the Rez make an extra for a child in need in your local community.

Give the gift of warmth this holiday season!

Thanks from Sew For Kids

 

The Sacred Shawl Society and My Space Youth Center

If you’re a new reader of our blog, the Sacred Shawl Society operates a women’s shelter on the Pine Ridge Reservation in Martin, SD providing a safe haven for women suffering from domestic violence and/or sexual assault and their minor children.  Kimmie Claussen, Executive Director, and the staff provide a safe, nurturing environment for women to heal from their traumas and also get assistance with legal matters and receive medical care.  While clients coming to the shelter are suffering from abuse they also bring all the issues that come from living in extreme poverty.  Unfortunately there are more families in need than the space to house them so they are encouraged to find an alternative safe place with a relative if at all possible once they are ready to leave, and have been assessed, and had medical, legal or social service needs taken care of before they leave. Kimmie is looking into building transitional housing for those clients still not strong enough to live on their own after a stay at the shelter or repeat clients using the shelter several times a year but she’ll need to find funding through grants and private donations to fulfill this dream.  The new group home would have a communal living space with private bedrooms and baths where young women and their children could live for a year or two while they take advantage of educational opportunities and other resources to help them build a new life. A few people have been helped thru her Rapid Rehousing grant but she needs more money to help others.

While reviewing recent abuse statistics Kimmie feels she needs to do more to reach out to communities across the Rez to educate people about domestic abuse, sex trafficking and other crimes against women.  Recently a 19 year old woman from Pine Ridge was murdered in Rapid City and Kimmie was really frustrated when she couldn’t get any information for her family since the crime happened off the Rez and is now a federal case.  The Sacred Shawl Society has held walks with other Native American groups from across the plain states that are informative but only to those that attend.  She wants to speak at schools and community events that focus on women and families so they can be educated about the resources that are available to them and how to use them.  She also wants to get police and other organizations involved and working more closely with the population she serves.  Although the shelter operates at capacity most of the time there were only 2 officially recorded cases of abuse in police stats last year.  One of the many problems is a police force that isn’t large enough to serve the entire Rez. Kimmie and her staff, in many instances, actually go to the homes of abuse victims that have called for help because there’s no police officer available.  This can be a dangerous situation for the staff not knowing what they may encounter and is especially risky if they get a desperate call in the middle of the night.

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The staff use their own vehicles for transport but currently one car needs a new alternator and the other just had a collision with a deer.  Kimmie’s car isn’t always available if she’s away tending to other calls or at meetings  so they’re looking for a used van for emergency pickups and to take women to medical and court appointments.  If you know of anyone that might have a VAN to donate to the shelter, please contact us here.

The new rooms are finally finished above the garage but the bad news is they went over budget so refurbishing the main shelter area will have to wait until December when grant funds are available. Of course everyone wants to sleep in the new rooms which is causing a few issues.  They’ve had a lot of young children at the center this summer so they’ve used up whatever resources they had.  They’re currently going through the storage containers and taking inventory but we do know they need boys shorts in sizes 3-5 as the weather is still pretty hot in SD.

Kimmie also helped kids in the community who were in need this summer (she keeps a watchful eye on them) and kids from Child Protective Services (CPS).  CPS does get a few donations from other groups but when they run out, call Kimmie to see if she can help, which she’s happy to do if there’s extra but the shelter kids have to come first.  This summer has put a strain on the disposable diapering stock our SFK fund helps with.  Clients coming to the CDC for help toward the end of the month are being given cloth diapers because that’s all they have to give.  More cloth diapers are needed and are easy to make from T shirts, they need plastic pants/covers too but have plenty of diaper pins.  They feel badly but the summer has brought many victims into the shelter.  Summers are hot and dry on the Rez and for crowded households without fans, adequate food, or money and in addition if any family member is abusing drugs or alcohol, physical abuse can be the result.  Many thanks to everyone that sent summer clothing and other resources for children, everything was definitely used and appreciated!

For those donors that sent Kimmie blankets , 28 were given along with a book ( thanks to our book donors) to the two Head Start groups for kids ages 3-5.  They absolutely loved their blankets and cuddle up with them during nap time.  The Head Start was in need of books so being able to give each child a book was so appreciated. The shelter needs more blankets of all sizes.  They would also love to have a dress up box at the shelter so if you have any old Halloween costumes, funny hats or other fun accessories they would be thrilled to have them.  Some of the kids come to the shelter from pretty scary situations so having a fun costume to play with can sometimes bring a smile to their little faces helping them forget about their trauma for a little while.

Natalie S, a woman we helped out in the past with needs for the many foster children she took into her home finally has them all in school and is now working at the shelter helping write thank you notes and keeping track of inventory.  We’re so glad Kimmie could help Natalie with a job at the shelter.  Jackie, the shelter employee with breast cancer, has returned to work part time.  Many of you helped her through the worst part of her cancer treatment.  She did lose 26 pounds but hopefully better days are ahead now and she wants to thank all of you for the kindness and generosity you showed her and her family during treatment.  We’re here to help again if needed.

The shelter is always in need of most household supplies and food staples so if you’re sending a box to Martin a jar of peanut butter, container of coffee or tea, box of crackers or cereal, anything extra you have room for would be greatly appreciated.    Our SFK fund, through Lakota Friends Circle, provides Kimmie with a monthly gift card at the local grocery store where she buys milk, bread, eggs and other perishables. A special thanks goes to Angela B who provided a good portion of the food this summer for the shelter and the youth center and we’re always grateful for those of you giving monthly or one time donations to our fund to help feed kids on the Rez.  If you would like to help with anything on the needs list and would rather have us do the shopping you can make a donation here with a note on how you wish your gift to be used.

Shelter Needs

  • Strollers – Small portable type for trips to the clinic.
  • Fans – It’s still hot on the Rez and the shelter doesn’t have air conditioning.
  • Laundry Detergent – “Pod” type.  Women are given 3 pods during their stay.
  • Toiletries – Small or hotel size, any size welcome.
  • Kitchenware – Pots and pans, skillets, spatulas, etc.  Women are given some cookware, if they have any, and dishes and cutlery from the dollar store when they leave the shelter.
  • Cleaning Supplies – They can use most anything.
  • Kitchen supplies – Plastic wrap, foil, plastic bags all sizes, garbage bags, etc.
  • Pantry Staples – Coffee, tea, peanut butter, spices, cereal, crackers, pasta, etc.
  • Blankets –  Blankets, quilts, afghans – all sizes needed.
  • Dress up clothes – Old Halloween costumes, hats, etc.
  • Clothes for Kids and Women

  My Space Youth Center

The youth center has a new assistant from the community college working with the children and Kimmie’s been impressed with his dedication and the rapport he has with the children.  TANF workers  help out at times at the center as well.  Kids are already back to school but they had a lot of fun this summer and most that wanted to swim at the town pool could because of donations for pool passes.  Lots of generous donations from SFK and “For The Children of PRR” provided many bathing suits, towels and accessories.  Julie S sent all those fun bags loaded with sunscreen, goggles, lip balm, towels, etc, which were a BIG hit with the kids and were shared with all their friends.  In addition to their regular chores, kids worked in the vegetable garden this summer at the youth center and are now making salsa from the bounty of onions, tomatoes and peppers they grew and they’re making dishes from the squash too.  They’re slowly learning to like fresh veggies, most of what they get at home comes from a can.  Kimmie and the staff serve fresh veggies and fruit for snacks and water to drink at the youth center but kids still wish they had soda and ice cream.  They’re making a concerted effort to keep kids in shape and eating well to decrease the incidence or delay the onset of diabetes which Native Americans are predisposed.  Kids have been collecting choke cherries, grapes and wild plums and are making syrup and jelly.  They want to preserve some of their fruits and veggies and are in need of canning jars, so if you have any extra please send their way.

They’ve had several movie nights this summer and had instructors visit the center to teach Lakota culture and traditional crafts.  The local fire department came and taught the children fire safety and how to safely put out a fire with fire extinguishers and a water hose.  Before school began last week they had a slumber party at the center with food, games and a movie, most didn’t doze off until 2 am.  They fell asleep wearing their street clothes Kimmie said, but are always in need pajamas for all ages and girls especially love nightgowns because they can twirl in them.  Many of our seamstresses sent dresses this summer and the girls loved them.  They were seen wearing them all around town and we heard a few even wore them to bed!   The dresses you’ve sent over the past few weeks will be part of their school wardrobe.  Kimmie is having a fashion show with the girls modeling their new dresses, skirts and tops (we’re crossing our fingers we’ll get a few pictures to share).  Girls participating in their coming of age ceremony Isnati spent 4 days at camp learning about the roles and responsibilities of being a Lakota woman culminating with their “coming out” ceremony and give away on the fourth day when they’re presented to the tribe as women.  Sessions will begin again this fall for the next group of girls who have reached their first “moon” or menstrual cycle.  Boys also have their own coming of age ceremony.  Many people in the area went to Sundance ceremonies and the many Pow Wow’s around the area this summer.

Kimmie and the staff at the Wild Horse Butte CDC have been filling backpacks with school supplies and adding some clothing items such as T shirts, sweatshirts and socks that were sent by SFK and “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” with some help with  school supplies provided by the district.  They still need lots of underwear (ongoing need) and socks and sports bras for girls in various sizes, the current need is size 12-16 but that changes from day to day.  Another ongoing need is shoes.  Kids love to play sports and run and play outside but the shoes they’re wearing from last year are either outgrown or worn out.  All sizes are needed, new or gently used to fit children from toddler to teens.  Kids are tall on the Rez so have larger feet, adult sizes are needed for the older kids.

With school back in session the youth center is now open 4-10 pm pm with younger children leaving earlier.  Only students enrolled in the virtual high school are allowed to use the center during the day as they need computers for their courses.  After school kids can have a snack and must do homework from 4-6 pm before any activities can begin such as games or watching TV.  Some of the kids head straight to the library area set up a couple of years ago by SFK member Laurie A who’s a librarian in her home state of Kansas. Kimmie often goes to the center to read to the younger kids and they love it.  She loves to make the characters come alive with her special sound effects and animation.  She loves all the wonderful books you’ve sent and has a special request for some Berenstain Bear books as they have some moral lessons she likes to teach the kids about.  Many other books have positive messages as well and they will gladly accept any books you have. The most important thing is reading to kids (the earlier the better) and encouraging them to read so they develop a vocabulary and can comprehend what they’re reading.

 Children’s Needs

  • Clothing – Pants, shirts, dresses, skirts, leggings, etc.
  • Underwear – For boys and girls all sizes, girls sports bra’s 12-16 and S/M adult.
  • Socks and Shoes – All sizes up to adult for older kids.
  • Outerwear – Coats, jackets, hoodies, sweaters.
  • School Supplies – Wide ruled paper, pencils, colored pencils, erasers, notebooks, backpacks, etc.
  • Menstrual Needs – Sanitary napkins and tampons.  Girls stay home from school during their cycle if they don’t have supplies.
  • Pajamas – All sizes, girls especially like nightgowns for “twirling”.  Pajama pants and a T shirt are fine.
  • Books – All kinds for kids of all ages including board books for babies.

Please send all your donations for the women’s shelter or youth center to Kimmie at the CDC, address here.  If you need a tax deduction for your gift please fill out the charitable form (link on the address page) and include it with a SASE at the top of your box.  Please track your package including those sent from online retailers.

It seems the list of needs is always long but we’re so grateful, as are the recipients, for anything you have to share.  Each one of us can only do so much but when we join together as a group we can accomplish great things!  “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” – Mother Theresa

Thank you for being part of the group!  If you’re not already a member of our Facebook working group please join us here.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marty Indian School

The 2018/2019 school year began this past Monday, August 20, for students attending Marty Indian School in Marty, SD.  The elementary school includes grades K-5, no class this year has more than 14 students with a total maximum enrollment of 95.  Currently they have 70 students enrolled.  Students undergo testing the first week of school to identify their strengths and areas that need more work.  Although some skills become rusty over the summer break, most kids bounce back quickly with a period of review.  Teachers and students alike are eager for this part of the new year to be over so they can move on to learning new things.  This is the third year SFK has worked with the school through the room parent program, support of the Feather Store and last year sponsoring Paulita Drapeau’s new sewing program.

Marty has a new elementary principal this year, Jolene Arrow, who previously held the position of school Superintendent in past years.  Welcome back Jolene and although we’ll miss working with Mr. Erdahl we look forward to working with you this year.  Mr. Erdahl has moved on to his new position, principal of Marty’s middle and high school grades.  Jolene began the school year with a week of special dress up days, sounds like a fun way for students to start off the new year.   It usually takes a couple of weeks before kids settle into the routine both at home and at school.  You can visit the school’s website here  and their Facebook page here.

When asked about student needs Principal Jolene said most of them probably went through the summer without socks, shoes and underwear and they all need school supplies.  She would love to update the outside play space by incorporating grassy areas, rocks, logs and maybe even a water feature with the standard playground equipment which she hopes to update if funding becomes available.  They need all kinds of outside play equipment including basketballs, soccer balls, handballs, frisbees, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, sand toys (pails, shovels, tea sets, cars and trucks), etc.  Kids love to be outdoors and they try to get them out every day, even in winter if they’re properly dressed, to get some fresh air and expel all that pent up energy.  This article in a California newspaper illustrates the positive effects of play and how important it is to a child’s development and well being.  That certainly shines a new light on the old proverb, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.

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Current Marty Indian school playground There are some basketball hoops and a parking area to bounce balls, skip and chalk a game of hopscotch.

Breakfast and lunch are served to students when classes are in session. School cooks say kids tend to eat a lot on Monday, especially if they come from homes with food shortages, and also on Friday as they try to load up knowing food will be scarce over the weekend.  The school gives students an afternoon snack before they head home and may even tuck a little extra in their backpacks for special needs.  Snacks are also given to students during testing and to anyone telling teachers they’re hungry.  There is money in the budget to purchase snacks but funds aren’t available at the beginning of the school year and when available will only cover 3 days.  We would like to help the school and make sure they have plenty of healthy snacks available for students.  SFK is starting a Marty Snack Fund at Lakota Friends Circle so we can purchase snacks in larger quantities at better prices which saves you shipping costs and ensures every dollar donated goes toward the purchase of food instead of to shipping companies.  If you would like to help with this program please send your tax deductible donations to Lakota Friends Circle here with a note it is for the Marty Snack Fund.  If you’re already sending a box of donations to the school consider adding some healthy snacks such as granola bars, graham crackers, cheese and crackers, etc.  If anything in the box is for a specific teacher please include a note with their name otherwise the contents will be shared with all the classes and/or go to the Feather Store.  Shipping addresses are here.

All donations to Marty Indian school are tax deductible, if you’re sending goods use the editable charitable donation form here (link is below shipping address) and enclose a SASE so the form can be signed, dated and returned to you at no cost to the school.  Please track your packages including orders placed online.  School funding is continually being cut so it’s important if you want any response, not just a tax form, from the school to add a SASE.  Having said that please don’t expect a personal letter from the school unless it is a special circumstance, they simply don’t have the time or extra staff.  When speaking with Paulita Drapeau, Feather Store manager, sewing instructor and wearer of many hats, she said a school is a very busy place to run and there never seems to be enough time to get all the jobs done that need doing.  Teaching children and helping with their needs is their first priority as we’re sure you’ll all agree.  Paulita has been great to work with, sends plenty of photos to the group and also answers any questions you may have on our Facebook page.  Thank you Paulita!  If you need any further information or questions answered please direct them to Carol or Janet and they will do their best to get you an answer.  The blogs are full of information and will keep you updated with the latest happenings at the school.

Thanks so much to all our SFK members that have taken on the challenge of being a room parent.  Teachers don’t have a budget for anything other than the basics so unless they take from their own pockets students do without.  Room parents help with supplies like hand cleaners, white board markers, Kleenex, craft items, snacks, books and items for special occasions such as holiday parties and birthdays.  They may also help with home needs such as towels, blankets, pillows, etc. some of which are considered luxury items in a lot of  homes. Teachers do the best they can but many students come with lots of issues and needs, they can only do so much in the few hours they’re with them.  Many students go to the Boys and Girls Club located on school grounds after classes where they can get help with homework, play games and have a snack.

Room parents can’t supply all the needs of their classes, especially this year due to the Feather Store’s reduced size which in years past was large enough to store clothing, shoes, underwear, and coats, donated by SFK members and many others, where students could shop for all their wearable needs.  The school received a grant to improve students reading and math scores so the clothing room will now be used as a tutoring area.  Paulita has decided to give each teacher a list of possible needs such as underwear, socks, shoes, etc. and have them check off what each of their students need.  We’ll then decide in our group how we can best help room parents with those needs.

The current Feather Store, although half the size, is still the place to shop for school supplies, craft items, toiletries, small toys, books, snacks and some household items such as laundry detergent, toilet paper, etc. for parents who can also shop in the store.  The cupboard is quite bare per Paulita so let’s all help them restock by sending the following:

  •  School Supplies- crayons, markers, colored pencils, pencils, erasers, wide ruled paper, notebooks, index cards, rulers, glue and glue sticks, pencil sharpeners, backpacks, etc.
  • Toiletries – Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, (small or travel sizes), deodorant, sanitary napkins, tampons (girls favorite).  Laundry detergent “pods”, dish soap, toilet paper, etc. for parents.
  • Snack Items – Cheese and crackers, granola bars, graham crackers, fruit roll ups, fruit cups, and other healthy snacks.
  • Toys – Cars, sports equipment, games and puzzles, dolls, art/craft supplies, coloring/sticker books, fidget toys, girls hair accessories, busy bags, books, etc.

Paulita is willing to shop for us so if we receive enough donations in the snack fund those along with toiletries can be purchased locally at Walmart, Sam’s or other big box store.  Janet S is visiting the school in late September and will take laundry detergent so the school can wash students clothing.  Some kids may only have a couple of outfits and without laundry facilities at home clothing can become really soiled.  We want kids to be clean and have clean clothes to wear so they feel good about themselves which helps build their self esteem.

The sewing classes will begin again soon and kids will make another skirt because one skirt does not an expert make and besides you can never have too many ribbon skirts! The kids loved their sewing classes last year and even wanted to skip recess and lunch and keep sewing!   Janet S will bring another sewing machine to replace one that needs repair.  Thanks to all your generous donations last year the only thing needed this year was non roll elastic which Carol has already provided. Penny N will also be visiting Marty in September and again in the spring, she’s our SD contact for the school and takes some fantastic pictures when she visits and even made a video last spring to share with all of us.  Thank you Penny for making us all feel we’re there too and thanks to both ladies for representing Sew For Kids.

Thanks again to room parents, members of Sew For Kids and many others for supporting the students at Marty for another year. Your help does make a difference as evidenced by improved test scores and student morale.  Ways to help the school is through the Box tops for Education program or  if you use Amazon , consider ordering under Amazon Smile and designating Lakota Friends Circle as your charity.  Any monies we receive from Amazon goes directly to our programs including Marty Indian School.

We would like to invite you to join our working Facebook group, Sew for Kids Volunteers, where people from across the US and Canada meet to brainstorm, share patterns and discuss ways we can help children on reservations in SD.  Hope to see you there!

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids. We wish everyone at Marty Indian school a successful year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More News From Wanblee

We have a few exciting developments to report since our last blog about Wanblee.  We were helping raise funds for a tiller for Jerome’s tractor that was donated to the community last year and we’re happy to report that need has now been met.  A generous $500 donation was made by Brian N., brother of SFK member Penny N, just because he likes what our group is doing and knew we would find the most appropriate use for the money.  Many others made small donations and the fund grew to $800 but was still $1000 short of what was needed to purchase the tiller.  A donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, stepped forward to donate the remaining $1000 a few days ago in honor of their mother’s 97th birthday. Her mother has always been  a staunch supporter and advocate for Native Americans living on the Rosebud Reservation (about 75 miles from Wanblee). What a great way to honor your mother and help Lakota people from both reservations, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!  Rosebud has the same problems with poverty as Wanblee, many of them attend the community parties and some of their children attend Crazy Horse School.  They know they can always depend on the High Horses to help their community if they have the resources available to share.  Jerome got the 8% state tax waived so the only other cost was the gas money it took to pick up the tiller in Rapid City.  Thank you all for helping with this important need! Now the tilling in of manure can begin, with the gardens hopefully planted early Spring 2019.

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We also had another generous (anonymous) donor purchase 6 carbon monoxide and smoke detectors for the new community center.  They couldn’t use the bunk room to house all the volunteers this summer without that gift, thank you!!  They are still in need of fire extinguishers if anyone would like to help with that need. Fires on the Rez usually end up with the loss of a building as the only fires that the volunteer fire brigades can help fight are brush fires and even that is difficult with their outdated equipment. Fortunately, Wanblee is not too far from some off the Rez towns with a full force fire dept.

Three other (anonymous) donors bought a new freezer for the center as the old freezer someone had donated in the past finally gave up the ghost.  The two freezers and refrigerator that were donated by  this  Rocky Mountain college group are working beautifully.  They need the freezers to store food purchased from the food pantry and also donations from other organizations, including Nation to Nation, so they have something to give out when people call desperate for food to feed their hungry kids.

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Many SFK members and others have been sending books for the new library so the kids will have a large variety of books to choose from which will keep them coming back.  We’re trying to encourage a “grandmother club” to come in and read to some of the younger children. And Jerome is willing to help kids build a book shelf out of pallets off the NAHA truck so kids can build their own library at home. Books are also heading to the Head Start program in the area.   Many of you have sent lots of clothing and other items to stock the thrift store where parents can shop for school clothes for their children for a nominal fee.  School supplies and book bags are also arriving and will be given to students in the area with some being saved for the after school tutoring program at the community center.  Thanks to everyone that has been working so hard to get children ready for school!

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Photo from Families Working Together 

Jerome and Theresa have also been receiving some much needed baby and toddler items from you that will help parents in the area and also the families that send their children to the local daycare. They bathe the children there nearly every day as many of the kids come from homes without running water and/or lack of toiletries.  They also wash their clothes and give them a new outfit and toiletries to use at home if they have them. The daycare is run by the tribe and has a budget that isn’t adequate to cover all their needs.  Much as teachers do, the staff there take from their own pockets to buy supplies they need to properly care for the children.  You can earmark some of your donations (toys, books, toiletries, clothing) be used for them by including a note in your box saying what you would like delivered to the Wanblee Daycare Center.

In a past blog we mentioned Jerome High Horse and Families Working Together purchased a trailer for a mother and her six children who lost their home to fire a few years ago.  Since the fire they’ve been living apart in various locations with friends and family waiting for the trailer to become livable.  Now that some of the volunteers working on the community center have departed  as well as the kids from Youthworks , who have gone until next year, they can finally get a crew of men together to start work on moving, rehabbing and skirting the trailer.  Hopefully the family of 7 will be reunited in the near future in their new home, we’ll keep you updated and post of any needs they have.

Sadly it’s just been over a year ago that Jerome and Theresa High Horse lost five grandchildren in a horrible car accident.  They recently held a memorial dinner and Jerome built a structure to honor them.  We continue to be amazed at their strength through this unimaginable loss, please pray for them and their family.

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In other news, the chickens they got this spring are growing so hopefully they’ll soon have fresh eggs and meat, the Colorado food group gave Jerome a truck so he can pick up food from them. The truck was immediately put to use to deliver food to hungry folks on Rosebud reservation at the St Francis Center. Jerome got the call as soon as he arrived home and did not even bother to unload but headed over there.  The kids are headed back to school next week and the dedication for the new community building is scheduled for September 2.

Photo of kids with chickens from Families Working Together

The PowWow is taking place in Wanblee this week and that is a special time for Native Americans. Many on the Rez attend Pow Wows in the summer in the various communities on Pine Ridge Rez. The dancing and the regalia are worth a stop by if you happen to be traveling in that area this summer. Jerome High Horse is always busy with making sure lights work , the grass is mowed etc.

SFK is busy working on aprons for women and children who will be taking a healthy cooking/baking class at the community center. They can also be used for serving at the soup kitchen they want to open , initially on weekends. Kids at risk need to be fed. At the moment kids in elementary school at Crazy Horse get a weekend backpack from supporters of Families Working Together. The sewing center is still under construction but is definitely moving along.  We will keep you updated along with a list of needs when it’s ready to open. Next time they can make their own aprons once the center is stocked with sewing supplies.

Thanks to all of you for your continued support of Wanblee community center and area needs.  With all of us working together we’ve managed to accomplish many things and we hope to have your support in the future.  Jerome is the project manager for the community and also for Lakota Friends Circle.  He so appreciates all the help you’ve given to the area and Carol is thanked for your generosity every time they speak.

We’ll be posting the projects for September/October soon and with winter coming before you know it warm blankets and clothing will be on the list.  Start planning now for your winter projects.  Please send donations for the Wanblee community here. If you want to sew/craft with us , join our Sew For Kids Volunteer group on Facebook.

Thanks from Sew For Kids!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

School Time Approaches

Summer is flying by and the new school year will be starting mid August which is about a month from now.  Time to start shopping for school supplies, socks, underwear and clothing.  Big box stores have their displays in place and are advertising super low prices on paper, pencils, crayons, etc. that won’t be repeated again until this time next year.  Stock up now on colored pencils, crayons and markers and add a sketch book or coloring book for giving later as a great Christmas gift.

Most of the schools have a limited budget to purchase school supplies and the more students needing help at the beginning of the year means supplies run out quicker with little funding to replace them.  With over 90 percent of the population living below the poverty line on the Rez most families simply don’t have the resources to buy school supplies and clothing for their children.  TANF and food stamp benefits don’t come until the beginning of the month so that means unless children get supplies from an outside source they won’t have them when classes begin.  Parents don’t want to send their children to school wearing worn out or ill fitting clothing from last year and it’s not good for a child’s self esteem either.  Summer months don’t allow families to save money as many kids are eating 2 extra meals at home unless they were able to participate in one of the summer feeding programs at school.

Teachers are known for dipping into their own pockets if one of their students is in need but that’s not something they can afford to do on a regular basis.  Kimmie has nothing left over from the shelter budget to purchase school supplies and kids coming in with their mothers are bussed to their schools while there, they usually arrive with just the clothes on their back.  She also keeps an eye on quite a few kids in the community that come from problem homes and likes to have extra supplies on hand to give them when needed.  They also need supplies (paper, pencils, pens) at the Youth Center where kids often come to finish their homework and more often than not will have forgotten or lost their pencils and paper.

Marty School class room parents from our group will help get supplies to their classes but some of them are working alone so will need help from additional donors.  The school will be purchasing supplies to begin the school year but if budget cuts are extensive they may need our help to finish out the year.  We heard from teachers last year that just knowing they had a place to get more supplies and help with special projects took so much worry off their shoulders and allowed them to focus more on teaching and their students.  SFK is so happy we could help teachers do more of what they were hired to do…..teach kids!

Crazy Horse school (Wanblee) does have some help from other groups that support the community but they can still use our help as they’re not always able to supply the entire school.  Most of the help this school and others receive is at the beginning of the school year, as supplies are used up and need replacing, groups have moved on to other needs and supplies have returned to regular prices so are expensive to buy in quantity.

 July/August  “Back to School”

  1. School Supplies – paper, pens/pencils, markers, crayons, backpacks, pencil cases, sharpeners, scissors, glue sticks, etc.
  2. Clothing – Pants/jeans, shirts, skirts/dresses with shorts or leggings, light jackets or hoodies, etc. in sizes 4T to 16/18 or adult S/M.
  3. Shoes – Athletic type, sturdier or waterproof especially desirable as most don’t have boots.
  4. Underwear, socks and PJ’s –  New only underwear and socks  to fit 4T to adult S/M for older kids.  New or gently used girls athletic bras and PJ’s or sleep pants with t-shirt.

Children in all three donation areas, (addresses here), need all of the above.  The weather is still quite warm, even hot, through September so short sleeves and shorts are still ok to send but when Fall arrives long sleeves and pants will be needed.  Clothing in sizes under 4T can still be sent for kids attending Head Start or daycare in Wanblee SD.

Wanblee Update

We now have $800 of the $1800 needed to buy a new tiller for the tractor that was so generously donated to the community.  Jerome would like to start preparing garden beds for spring planting by tilling in manure donated by local ranchers this Fall.  If you have a tiller for sale or know of one at a better price please contact us here.  Jerome needs a PTO driven rotary tiller 5-6 feet long such as this one to be used on a Ford Jubilee 1953 tractor.  If you would like to help add to the tiller fund you can do so by making a donation to Lakota Friends Circle.  Thank you, no donation is too small!

Some plans for the new community center are a soup kitchen and classes focusing on healthier eating using food stamps and commodities and hopefully fresh veggies from community gardens next year.  If the weather cooperates and gardens produce a bounty some of the tomatoes and other veggies can be preserved for the winter.   Fresh vegetables are needed to feed the elders as they mainly eat canned food for their meals M-F at the elder center, and for some that may be their only meal of the day.  Extra veggies to add to the weekend backpack program at Crazy Horse school would also be a benefit, at least for the fall months.  Greenhouses are something the tribe is looking into but the idea seems to be on the back burner for now.

If you want to join our working group , check us out here . You will meet really nice people with big hearts and lots of talent.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.

“One CHILD, One TEACHER, one BOOK, one PEN  can change the world.”
Malala Yousafzai

June Project -Bags and Bedding

We’re way behind on blogging about the June project due to all the blogs we’ve done on Marty Indian School, Sacred Shawl Shelter and My Space Youth Center both in Martin and finally the Wanblee area just last week.  Although the month is more than half gone bags and bedding are needed year round on the Rez and can be sent any time.

Shop thrift stores, garage sales, white sales at stores, or your own closet for flat and fitted sheets in sizes twin to queen.  Although king size sheets are not needed you can still buy them and make pillow cases or smaller sheets for a pack and play or twin size bed.  SFK members have made many pillow cases for kids in the past using bright colors and character prints and they are one of the most requested items we’ve made (the other is dresses).  A favorite pattern for pillow cases is the burrito style which can be made in less than half an hour.  Pillows (new only) are always needed and can be found online, Kohl’s and Penney’s have good sales many times with free shipping.  Smaller kid size pillows and cases can be made for toddlers.  Sheets are too expensive for most families to buy so many people sleep on a bare mattress with a blanket thrown over them.

When most of us get ready to take a bath or shower we grab a towel and washcloth from the closet and don’t give it a second thought.  When people on the Rez do the same many times there are no towels or washcloths and they dry off with whatever’s available.  Everyday items we take for granted are considered luxury items on the Rez.  Used towels in gently used condition are fine to send but SFK members have found very good towels on sale for less than $5 from online retailers.  If you have any hotel size toiletries they would be appreciated too.  Baby and toddler size towels with hoods are needed and a great way to keep little ones warm after a bath.

June is the time we like to remind everyone to start thinking ahead to next winter (sorry!), it’s not really that far off especially for the quilt and afghan makers.  Time to get your yarn out and quilt projects started or look out for blankets at garage sales and thrift stores.  Blankets that are worn around the edges can be rebound or serged or even used as batting or the backing in a new quilt.  Blankets make great holiday gifts for everyone on the Rez and we never seem to have enough to go around so if you need a project to do this summer this is it!

And finally all our donation areas need bags.  Totes, drawstring, backpacks, toiletry, duffels, diaper bags, pencil cases, toy bags, messenger bags, and purses.  Make them or buy them the choice is yours.  Bags made (or purchased) ahead can be filled later with school supplies, Christmas gifts, toiletries, baby items, etc.  These are great projects for sewers to reduce their ever increasing “stash”.

So on a lazy summer day pull out that sewing machine, knitting needles or crochet hook, find a pleasant spot to work, like a garden bench or the front porch, fix yourself a refreshing drink and craft the day away!  Please share pictures of your finished projects with us, we’d love to see them!  Please send your bedding and bags to Lakota Friends Circle in Wanblee or to Kimmie at Wild Horse Butte in Martin for the shelter and youth center, addresses are here.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.