Make Christmas Special For The Rez

Our November project is Christmas gifts of course and anything warm including blankets, coats, gloves/mittens, scarves, warm clothing and boots all make great gifts.  Many on the Rez believe that gifts are to be given only to children 0-12 years, but we also try to cover teens and elders, they have needs too and everyone likes to get a gift once in a while, some elders have never received a Christmas gift.  SFK has plenty of help throughout the year from partner groups and we couldn’t begin to provide Christmas gifts to all areas we serve without them.  For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation, Halfknits, Pine Ridge Elders and many groups located in your communities that you ask to help us like H.I.S all make it possible. This year Recycled Rainbows is helping Marty Indian School and the Sacred Shawl Shelter in Martin with gifts and some of their day to day needs. Another group, “Hearts with Helping Hands” also plans to help some of our areas either before or after the holidays.  Dolls of Hope  has already sent teddy bears and dolls to our baby programs on Pine Ridge and Rosebud.  Thank you all for coming together to make the holidays special for our Native American friends. Our program serves close to 900 plus people when you add up the numbers in the organizations we help. That is why Sew For Kids needs help to make Christmas special.

SFK member Penny N’s annual Doll Project is in full swing and she’s reporting 450 dolls, teddy bears and other stuffies (with wardrobes) are almost ready to make their way to the Rez to find a new home this Christmas.  Penny began the program five years ago and it’s continued to grow every year under her direction.  Thanks Penny!  Other members have been sewing pillowcases, making blankets and knitting and crocheting hats, scarves and mittens, blankets and shopping of course.  Member Beulah L from Wisconsin has just finished her annual fleece sewing blitz, the count this year is 92 hats, 53 scarves and 100 pair of mittens for children on the Rez.  Thanks Beulah!   Cyrilla H sent over 300 pounds of insulated bibs and jackets donated by her son’s company to Wanblee for the “Woodchucks” and other men working out in frigid weather to help their community.  Lulu H sent all the work gloves they needed, others either sent or made cash donations to purchase work boots for the men, thank you all! There are so many of you to thank. I can not list you all but you are all so appreciated.

Wanblee is having a community party in the “Nation to Nation” building Saturday, December 14.  They expect about 300+ children to attend with their families.  Cookies, hot chocolate and cider will be served while Santa gives out gifts. They need gifts for kids/teens 0-18 and elders.  The Wanblee area still needs more gifts for all ages. We do like to give the younger kids a little toy etc even if they  get a pair of mittens too etc. We know how our kids feel if they just get clothes in those younger ages!

Sacred Shawl Shelter in Martin will have a party for clients in the shelter over Christmas.  The staff decorates a tree and wraps gifts from some of the donations given by you throughout the year.  We can’t predict how many will be in the shelter over the holidays but we do know this is a stressful time for many living in dysfunctional homes.

Wild Horse Butte CDC in Martin will hold its annual Christmas party December 14th as well and  , most of the community will attend. A meal is provided with  some help from community funds  and Santa will be there handing out gifts.  Some of your donations throughout the year are held back, if not immediately needed, so they have enough gifts for each child attending 0-13. Gifts for boys ages 10-12 are still needed. For the older kids the CDC in the past has bought a gift for the youth center so it can be enjoyed by the teens using the center.  Elders attending the party and those in the nursing home also receive a gift through our previous donations with help from local college students who prepare their gifts along with Natalie Siers. Some of you are making gift bags for elders. Those unable to attend the party can come to the CDC office and get a gift for a child. They’re also prepared to help with requests from other organizations such as Child Protective Services.

Marty Indian School will have a Christmas program at the school that parents will attend and then kids will go back to their classes for a Christmas party. Room parents will help with supplies and also provide a gift for each student.  Kids will shop in the Feather Store for gifts for their family members and wrap them as they did last year. They do need some wrapping paper, gift bags, tape and ribbons/bows if you have some to spare. And some small gift items for the kids to shop are needed so that they have some variety. Gifts need not be expensive. It is the thought that matters.  Thanks to everyone that donates to the Feather Store during the school year as it provides a source for families to get things they couldn’t otherwise afford.  A big thanks to all the room parents for sponsoring a class and sharing your time and generosity with teachers and students.

Our two baby programs, Bright Start on Pine Ridge and RST Maternal and Child Health on Rosebud Reservation will give stuffed animals to each child and/or an outfit.  Bibs, burp pads, and blankets are other needs as are diaper bags. We’re asking for donations of filled toiletry bags for each program the nurses can use as Christmas gifts for mom’s to make them feel special too around the holidays.  We all know the challenges of raising children, many of these moms are young, lack family support and deal with daily hardships in their lives with little or no resources. These programs not only help get clothing, food and other resources to their children but also teach these young women parenting skills and the importance of medical care and nutrition.

The Emergency Foster Care Home is not currently open, we’re still waiting to hear if any gifts are needed.  Barb Dull Knife has had to put things on hold while she deals with a family emergency.

Here are some ideas for gifts if you still are shopping around for ideas to make or buy.

Children’s Gifts

  • Dolls, stuffed animals, craft kits and supplies
  • Books for all ages, especially Native American, adventure, how-to, etc.
  • Art supplies such as crayons, drawing pads, coloring books, colored pencils, etc, add to a tote bag.
  • Journals with a nice pen
  • Puzzles and games, Play-Doh or modeling clay
  • Sports balls such as basketballs, soccer balls, etc.
  • Cars and trucks, action figures, spinners, dinosaurs, etc.
  • 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 children in all donation areas but keep in mind Bright Start and Rosebud’s clients are women and their babies/toddlers.

Teen Gifts

  • Art supplies, journal/diary with pen
  • Basketballs, soccer balls and other sports equipment
  • Gloves and hats
  • Baseball caps, socks and underwear
  • Toiletry bags/Males – deodorant, body wash, nail clipper, razor, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush, chap stick, comb/brush.  For Females add sanitary supplies, nail polish, lip gloss, hair ties, perfume, etc.
  • Purse, sports bag, tote bag, backpack
  • Pillow/pillowcase

Elder Gifts

  • Toiletry Bags – Lotion, chap stick, comb/brush, toiletries such as body wash, shampoo, etc. in a drawstring bag.
  • Diabetic socks for men and women
  • Slippers with no slip soles
  • Sugarless candy
  • Lap blankets, shawls
  • Word search puzzles, large print
  • Towel and washcloth
  • Pillow/pillowcase

 

Still Needed – coats, new or gently used that meet our donation guidelines, in all sizes are needed for the women’s shelter and youth center in Martin, the Wanblee community and Marty Indian School.  Boots and shoes are needed at Marty Indian school, hoodies, sweaters, insulated underwear and other warm clothing are needed in all 3 areas.  Warm socks are also needed at Marty school and in Wanblee especially because the kids walk to school in flimsy shoes and arrive with wet feet. Some of these items will go on sale after the holidays so watch for sale.

Please ship your gifts to arrive by the end of the first week of December to give areas time to wrap and sort, all addresses here.  You may also send wrapped gifts with a note giving age and gender.  If you would like to help but don’t shop or sew you can make a donation for any of our areas through Lakota Friends Circle, just note the area you wish to help in the comments box.

The Spirit of Christmas lives within our donors all year long.  Whenever we ask for help you are there, your continued support means so much to families on the Rez, we never know when a small act of kindness might just be the spark that gives someone hope and the will to move ahead toward a new beginning.

As always Thanks from Sew For Kids

Some of the Christmas items from our donors. Enjoy!

 

Area Updates

It’s been a while since our last update but judging by all the posts on our Facebook group Sew For Kids Volunteers we know members have been busy knitting, crocheting and sewing warm things for the  winter season, making doll clothes and getting their dolls and other gifts ready for the holiday season.

Many SFK members have supported our projects financially and several have made trips to the Rez to personally deliver donations.  Penny N made her semi-annual trip to Marty last month with supplies for her 5th grade class and toys, snacks, clothing and cleaning supplies for the Feather Store.  Ramonia S also made a trip to Marty with donations of shoes, coats, and toys and stopped by Wanblee to leave a donation for Jerome’s monthly trips to Colorado to pick up food for the community.  Melissa G  delivered clothes, diapers , formula and miscellaneous items to Wanblee. Ramonia delivered baby formula, diapers and clothing for the Maternal and Child Health program on Rosebud Reservation. Kat B and her husband brought a load of quilts made by volunteers from her group HalfKnits and delivered them to Wanblee, the CDC office in Martin and Rosebud School and the child health program on Rosebud Reservation.  Thank you all for taking the time to drive to the reservations and deliver your donations in person, it means so much to those on the receiving end and to us for representing Sew For Kids or your own group.

Sew For Kids is under the umbrella of Lakota Friends Circle (LFC) a 501c3 non profit that raises funds for programs of Native American led organizations on Pine Ridge, Rosebud and the Yankton Sioux Reservations in South Dakota. They partner with other groups, as do we, to get clothing, blankets and other essentials to areas that need them.  Groups working with SFK and LFC include For The Children of Pine Ridge Reservation, Halfknits, and Pine Ridge Elders,  Recently we’ve had other groups helping as well, Dolls of Hope, Recycled Rainbows and Hearts with Helping Hands.  Many thanks to members of SFK and all partner groups for working together to help children and their families living on South Dakota Reservations.

 

Wanblee Community

Since our last blog Jerome High Horse has acquired land to build a new community center in Wanblee thanks to a very generous donor and volunteers from the community have already been busy clearing the land.  The community center will also serve as a food distribution center for families living in Wanblee and the surrounding areas.  People living in this area of the Rez are in a food desert, the nearest grocery store of any size is 45 miles away and large discount stores such as Walmart are over 100 miles away in Rapid City or Chadron, Nebraska.  They receive either food stamps or commodities with neither being enough to adequately feed a family for an entire month so they must look for other resources when their food runs out or go hungry until the first of the month.  Some do grow gardens but the growing season is short in SD and the frequent wind and hail storms can destroy an entire summer of work in a few minutes.  Most of the food will be donated by “We Don’t Waste” in Colorado with occasional donations from Running Strong and NAHA.  They’ll have refrigerators and freezers for meat, dairy, produce and other perishables and an area to store canned and other shelf stable food.  Jerome already makes trips to Denver twice a month and brings back enough food to feed 150-200 people each time but it must be distributed immediately as there is no storage area.  Lakota Friends Circle provides the funding for Jerome’s trips to Colorado made possible by your generous donations.  LFC is currently looking for food grants to apply for, we hope they’ll be successful.

The new building will also have a community meeting area and space for sewing, auto mechanics, small appliance repair, laundry facilities and a children’s library.  They have plenty of space for a community garden and chicken coops, we’re anxious to see the plans.  Jerome has some funding promises, estimated cost to build is $170,000 for the basic structure, additional funds will be needed to develop and run the programs.

Five FEMA trailers that were previously used by workers in North Dakota oil fields were recently given to the tribe in Pine Ridge and three of those were then given to Wanblee but they were responsible for having them moved from the town of Pine Ridge about 80 miles away.  With the help of many very generous donors enough funding was raised to move the trailers, add skirting and build a front and back porch.  Thank you all!!  Two trailers have already been moved and hopefully the third will arrive soon.  Snow and recent heavy rains have delayed moving the final trailer but they’re hoping to have all three families in their new homes before winter sets in for good.  We will post any needs the families have in a future blog, until then you’ve given them the best gift possible, a new home!

We really need your help getting some warm winter items to Jerome’s men who help him with construction projects, including projects for the new trailers, and the Woodchucks who cut and deliver firewood to area families.  These volunteers work out in the frigid weather all winter long helping their community, they need the following:

  • Insulated Coveralls – 1 Large, 1- Xl, 2- 2Xl, 1-3XL
  • Winter Work Boots – 2-12M, 1-12W, 2-13M, 1-13W
  • Work Gloves  needed in sizes- Large, XL, 2XL
Warm gloves, hats, face masks, coats, hoodies, and thermal underwear in larger sizes can always be used if you have any to donate.  Jerome and Theresa reward the men with a hot, home cooked meal after a day’s work and sometimes hold a small celebration to thank them for giving back to their community.  Any help you can give these hard working men would be greatly appreciated.
The High Horses are so grateful for all the warm items that are coming in.  Theresa keeps a list of all the people who call and ask for help and contacts them as soon as something comes in they can use.  If the request is an emergency they will take out of their own pockets to help.  Jerome and Theresa have enjoyed all the people who stopped in for a visit this summer and apologize for not always being there to welcome you.  They love to meet and talk to their donors and share their culture and the work they do with them.  Theresa always tells us to thank everyone for their continued support and generosity, they couldn’t do most of their work without you.

Jerome and Theresa will have a Christmas party again this year, SFK and partner groups are all working on gifts for them and our other donation areas.  More information in the November blog.

Sacred Shawl Women’s Shelter

Kimmie has been busy writing grants as she does most of the time for without them the shelter wouldn’t exist.  About a third of their clients need counseling and inpatient services for drug addiction but there aren’t enough beds for all the women needing help so some come to the shelter several times a week for outpatient services.  Kimmie, thanks to all your generous donations, is able to give clothing and other items to women in the treatment center and to their children who stay with relatives while they receive help.  Most of these children would go without school supplies and clothing as foster families don’t receive any help for the first few months of care.  Your donations to the shelter touch so many lives in so many situations, you do make a difference! Children staying at the shelter with their mothers receive school supplies and clothing and attend local schools.  Kimmie wants kids in school and learning, she sees education as the only chance they have to change their future.

The Sacred Shawl Society had an information booth about domestic violence at the Black Hills Pow Wow October 12.  Kimmie said they had the chance to educate over 600 people that stopped by their booth for information.  A special ceremony “Remember My Name, Remember My Story” honored the memory of women and children who lost their lives to family violence.  Kimmie recently received a grant to teach women about sexual assault and another for helping kids with suicidal thoughts.  A counselor will go to the schools and talk to students about where to go and who to call for help if they’re contemplating suicide.  The help line will be open 24/7.

Kimmie was recently invited to give a talk to a SD university class about the Lakota culture.  She’s been working with a professor on some of their cultural events such as the Isnati and naming ceremonies, pow wows, the sun dance, and sweat lodges.  She thought she’d be speaking to a small class but when she arrived there were over 100 students there.  Kimmie was happy for the opportunity to share her culture and educate others about the Lakota people.

Partner group “For The Children of PRR” recently raised over $400 from their members to replace the carpeting in the main living area of the shelter with new tile which will be more sanitary and much easier to maintain.  The staff at the shelter are fastidious about making sure the center is cleaned daily and have clients do their share of the work in their living spaces.  This teaches them skills they may not have and for some staying busy may help them forget, for a little while, about the trauma that brought them to the shelter.     Thank you ladies for making this renovation possible!

My Space Youth Center

The kids had a fun summer swimming and being with friends at the center and are now back at school.  Your donations provided back to school supplies and backpacks to those that needed them and they’re now helping kids with coats and warm clothing for winter.  The garden helped feed some of the kids during the summer but the early snow finished the garden off for this year.  LFC continues to provide $125 a month to purchase perishable food from the local grocery which is added to the $400 Kimmie budgets for food for the month.  After school is over for the day 30-40 kids come to the shelter looking for a snack and that number can grow to over 70 on the weekends when kids don’t get much to eat at home.  Kids are getting excited about Halloween and will dress up with homemade costumes.

Kimmie has applied for two grants for the youth center, one for $15,000 for this year and one for $20,000 for next year which will pay for staff and utility costs.  It’s so hard for her to find funding for the day to day operating costs so we’re crossing our fingers she’ll get these grants.  If she was applying for cultural grants chances are she would be funded and has been several times in the past. but  she persists because she knows kids need to be in a safe place doing healthy activities.  She recently got a few Lakota children’s books for the youth center’s library and hopes to add more soon.  Many times Kimmie goes over to the center to read to the kids before she heads home for the day from her office at the CDC.  The library was set up by SFK member Laurie A a few years ago with books she brought from home and more from other SFK donors.

Head Start Program

Well you did it! We were able to get a blanket, a stuffed animal and a book to every child in Head Start in the communities of Martin, Allen, Kyle and Wounded Knee – about 200 blankets with some left over for the younger kids that come to the shelter!  Some of you sent books to the classes for class reading, the kids were so excited!  The Head Start in Martin has requested hats, mittens, coats and warm clothing for winter and pants and underwear for boys and girls sizes 4T-8 who have accidents in class, there are laundry facilities in some areas which helps.  Sewers can whip up a pair of pants in no time especially if you have a serger and sew assembly line style.  Clothing in good, gently used condition is always welcome, underwear must be new.

Wild Horse Butte CDC

The CDC office continues to receive calls for help from the Martin area and many other areas across Pine Ridge.  Someone walked in their office yesterday and said, “I don’t know how I would survive without the help you give me and my family”!  Kimmie mentioned our groups and told them to write a thank you note. Your donations arrive at the CDC office and are distributed to Child Protective Services, Sacred Shawl Society’s shelter, Martin Health Clinic, the foster home, Martin area schools, Head Start, My Space Youth Center, nursing homes, rape crisis center, drug addiction center, to local mothers and their babies, elders and anyone else who calls or comes in with needs.  When asked by members where to send their donations we often suggest the CDC office because of their vast outreach, something they couldn’t do without your donations.  Natalie Siers extends her thanks to all of you for your continued generosity, she works tirelessly to get your donations out to those that need them.

The Emergency Foster Care Home

Unfortunately the home cannot open in their new location until they’re able to get funding for liability insurance and programs.  The home they operated in Oglala was not officially approved by the state although they helped many children living in abusive homes. This foster home needed to be approved by the state in order to work with Child Protective Services and get grants with them and if they’re to build a new home on the five acres Barb has donated from her family’s land. It is now a licensed facility.  In the meantime Barbara Dull Knife is looking for grants, updating policies and finishing some of the small changes needed in the home noted in the recent inspection report. They did fill the propane tank so they’ll be ready to accept kids once they’re approved and will probably need our help to fill it again once winter is in full swing. They hope to have Christmas for all the kids who’ve been in foster care but Barb doesn’t have a number yet as some of the kids are no longer in the area.  More information in a future blog.

Bright Start and RST Maternal and Child Health Program

Both programs are so grateful for all the wonderful donations of baby and toddler items they’ve been receiving from SFK and partner groups.  They are both busy with mom’s and their new babies and  continue to educate them and help their other children.  Before our groups began helping many times Mary and Sandi had nothing to offer their clients when they needed help.  Members of all groups are busy working on Christmas gifts and warm items for both areas.  SFK continues to send diapers, wipes and sanitary items through LFC when we have the funds.  If you would like to help Mary and Sandi’s babies you can make a donation here and note in the comments box it’s for the diaper/formula fund.  Thank you for helping the babies!

Marty Indian School

Students are back in school and settling in for another year of learning. Some of the children who wanted to attend Marty this year had to be turned away because they’re at full capacity.  Recent flooding caused damage to some area schools so students had to be transferred to other schools while repairs are made.  This year they’re incorporating Dakota language and cultural studies into their curriculum. Sewing classes haven’t started yet but they’re ready to go as soon as time allows.  They’re hoping to get some of the parents to help with the program as the kids love to sew.

Marty received a math and reading grant last year which improved math scores but reading is still below average. Teachers are taking training on how to build better readers and they’re encouraging students to read every day.  Older students from Marty High School come over and read to the younger students each day so they can hear a story, learn word pronunciation, sentence structure, etc. We love to hear about kids helping kids!

Some of our SFK members are room parents for grades K-5 at Marty with some of them returning for the fourth year. They help their classes with school supplies, snacks, craft supplies and other needs so teachers aren’t constantly dipping in their own pockets.  Students receive breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack, if they have them, and finish the school day at 3:30, some kids go to the local Boys and Girls Club, others ride the bus home.  The school applied for the fruit and veggie program grant and kids are to start receiving those snacks 2-3 times a week. These snacks have been well received in the past and kids are encouraged to eat them because food at home is commodities or convenience food that isn’t very nutritious. Kids are given talks on eating healthy, exercising and diabetes, a disease they’re at risk for as they get older. Diabetes is on the rise throughout the US and there’s an epidemic of childhood diabetes due to unhealthy food choices, being overweight and lack of exercise.

Providing snacks for 85 students will cost $38 per day. We want to supply snacks on the days they don’t get them from the school program so we’ve started a snack fund.  We are applying for some food grants through LFC and the school and are trying to get some help through local groceries but until other help becomes available we want to make sure kids are fed so they can concentrate on learning and growing mentally and physically. They need more fat and protein in their diets that will stave off hunger longer than snack food. There is no kitchen in the elementary school so kids go over to the middle school to eat their meals.

Paulita said they could cook some nutritious food to give students in the afternoon if we could donate a hot plate, some pots and pans, a crockpot and kitchen utensils. An updated microwave would help as well and currently only used by the staff. We could include some dried soup mixes, macaroni and cheese, etc in our boxes that they could add beans, rice, canned veggies and meat to for a hearty soup.  We would like each class to have a small refrigerator so they can store milk, cheese, hard boiled eggs, and yogurt, 3 of the 6 classes already have one. Peanut butter is not recommended as they have some kids with peanut allergies and there are no medical clinics nearby if someone has an allergic reaction which has happened in the past.  Granola bars, fruit roll ups and other processed foods are fine once in a while but we want to encourage eating healthier food. Pipe dreams at the moment but we hope to make it happen and of course Christmas is coming too. There is always Santa to think about to make this happen!

Kids are using the Feather Store to buy things for themselves and their family.  Each item has been increased from 10 to 20 feathers this year.  Students earn feathers by demonstrating the 5 Dakota values and parents receive a matching feather that can be used in the store to buy clothing, toiletries, gift items, cleaning supplies, etc. The school has been doing a lot of laundry lately, the nurse has pitched in too. They want to make sure kid’s have clean clothing to wear if there are no laundry facilities in their home. LFC shared a grant that the school might be able to apply to get a new washer and dryer.  Fortunately they have the Feather store so kids can get a change of clothing while theirs is being washed.  Winter is coming and although they’ve been getting some warmer things they still need warm coats, hoodies, sweatshirts, sweaters, pants, snow pants, hats, scarves, and mittens/gloves in 5T to 16/18 or adult S/M for both genders.  Winter boots are always needed in sizes 12.5 to 6Y and 7-8 adult. Jolene Arrow. the principal, mentioned that today the kids went to see the killing of a buffalo and how it is processed and how each part is used and not wasted. This is part of the cultural program they are implementing. However Jolene noted that few kids had warm coats on and need mittens and hats. They took what they could find in the Feather room to layer clothes. I have asked for a list of sizes needed but the range is 4/5t-16/18. Used in good condition is fine if it meets our donation guidelines. She recently bought some clothing racks so they can display clothing by sizes but they still need about 100 sturdy plastic hangers.

Parent-teacher conferences were this past month, unfortunately only 24 of the 85 parents attended but they’re hoping for better attendance next month.  Some parents may lack transportation to the school, maybe serving a meal would be a good incentive to attend.

Kids are looking forward to Halloween and will dress up and “trick or treat” at the high school and the local community building and then come back to their classes for a party.  Some room parents are sending Halloween items like crafts, books, or treats.  Some classes went on a field trip to the pumpkin patch.

Thank you all who do so much to make our programs a success.  Please join us on our Facebook working group, Sew For Kids Volunteers and visit Lakota Friends Circle’s page to see what other groups are doing.  Donations to any of our programs can be made here, any amount gratefully accepted.

Happy Halloween and Thanks from Sew For Kids!

 

Update on Wanblee

Jerome High Horse, Lakota Friends Circle (LFC) program manager, has spent much of this summer making trips to Colorado to pick up donated food from the non-profit “We Don’t Waste” and bringing it back to Wanblee for distribution to families in need.  Volunteers from the community sort and pack the food into boxes (100 plus usually) for pickup by families and elders in town and the surrounding areas which is estimated to include about 200 children.  Those lacking transportation will have their food delivered by Jerome or one of his volunteers.  We’re happy to report one of the recipients of a food box is the Emergency Foster Care Home in Porcupine.  Other food donations for the area come from Running Strong at Thanksgiving and Christmas and occasionally on the monthly NAHA trucks.

Although the food is donated free of charge, LFC provides funding for fuel and some of the maintenance for Jerome’s trucks which are used for pick up and delivery.  Most of these funds comes from the generous donations of SFK members, partner group “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” and other donors supporting LFC.  Without your help Jerome would have to turn down most of the offers of donated food because the cost of running large trucks is just too expensive for the community.  LFC just held a successful fundraiser to repair the transmission on one of his trucks and purchase new tires for the trailer he uses to haul food.  Jerome’s trucks really take a beating with all the miles he drives and the many vehicles he pulls out of snow drifts every winter or flood waters which happened this past spring.  Soon he’ll be replacing the engine in one of his trucks as it’s gone nearly 200,000 miles and is no longer dependable and there’s always insurance to pay for so we try to help him out whenever possible.  We can’t thank you enough for your generous contributions that keep the trucks rolling and the food coming in for so many children and their families on the Rez.  School is starting soon so families will have some relief in their food budget when their children begin eating two meals a day at school.

We mentioned in a blog last fall the tribe offered Jerome five trailers that were originally used to house oil workers in North Dakota but they had to be moved from the town of Pine Ridge at his expense. LFC has been trying to find funding to move them but the original cost of $4500 per trailer was one they couldn’t afford and while looking for an alternative mover the tribe gave two of them to families that lost their homes in the floods so now there are only three available.  Although we didn’t do a formal fundraiser some generous people read about the trailers last year and wanted to help so LFC now has funds to move a trailer. It’s $2000 to move and $500 to put on the deck with stairs or a ramp.  A big thanks to Sandy and Bill Volk,  Frances Bourdon, Janet Schnurlein and Ruth Gruel for their donations to move the first trailer,  LFC will need our help in raising funds to move the second and third trailer and to add decking, stairs or ramp and skirting for all the trailers. Jerome has experienced volunteers ready to get the trailers functional and weatherized once in place all they need is the materials to begin working.  The land has been provided and is ready, families are required to apply to the tribe for water and electrical service but the trailers have to be in place first.  These trailers are in great condition, fully furnished and insulated and are not the typical trailer most families buy due to their limited resources so we really hope we don’t lose the third trailer.  All children deserve to have a nice, safe home to grow up in and although we can’t help everyone we do have a chance to help three families.  LFC, with your help, has rehabbed homes in the past for veterans and elders and a family who lost their home in a fire.

Below is the story the of the  first family to receive the trailer we’ve raised funds for.  Jerome chose this family because they’re always willing to volunteer to help their community in times of need, now they need to ask for help. Jerome has a family in mind for the  second and third trailer but they won’t be notified until we have raised the funds because we don’t want to make a promise we can’t keep.

Family #1

To: Lakota Friends Circle Re: Trailer house – We are a family of 8, we currently have our own trailer house. It is desperately in need of a lot of repairs. This past harsh winter conditions, really did a lot of damage, from the heavy snow, high winds and flooding. The electricity in half of the kitchen, half of the living room, main bathroom, and 2 bedrooms doesn’t have electricity. The roof has started to leak from our living room to the main bathroom. The house became unleveled, from our living room, to the whole half of our house, sits a little sideways. The floor began to rot away by our main entrance door, causing the floor to fall apart. We’ve worked very hard to purchase our home and to maintain it. We’ve done the repairs ourselves. But due to a recent health condition, I lost my job, I’m not able to find employment right now, because I’m still in recovery from treatments for my health. My wife is the only one employed right now. We’ve never had a house from OST housing authority, we’ve always rented, and saved and saved and finally 7 years ago, we bought and paid for our current home in full. Renovating and upgrading it ourselves. But physically and financially we cannot continue to repair our home anymore. We did apply for assistance through FEMA, after all the paperwork, and inspection of our home, we were “not qualified” and denied help. There’s too much work that needs to be done, and it’s very hard for us to have to admit, that we are not capable of doing it anymore. We desperately need a new home and we would be so grateful!! Thank you!

Family #2 This is the next person who needs a trailer. We will post the third family in need once we have funds. We are looking for grants as well.

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Many thanks again to Bill, Sandy, Frances, Janet and Ruth for making it possible for this first family  to have a decent home.   If you would like to make a donation for moving the other  trailers please use this link and type “moving the trailers” in the comments box.  Any donation is welcome, many small donations add up very quickly and could give another family a decent place to call home.  We’ll share the third family’s story with you if we can raise the funding. We need to move them or the tribe will be give to families in other areas. LFC wants to help the needy families in the Wanblee area.

Although this is a Lakota Friends Circle project we like to keep our members updated about their news and fundraisers as they’re also frequent donors to their programs.  Sew For Kids is mainly a sewing/crafting group but we partner with LFC on many projects and are under the umbrella of their organization.  Our “Sew For Kids Fund” is at LFC and the monies are used to purchase food, diapers, formula, toiletries and other critical needs for the areas we serve.  Together with LFC, “For the Children of PRR” and other partner groups we’ve provided over $30,000 in goods to these areas, an accomplishment everyone should be proud of.

Thank you from Sew For Kids for your generosity and continued support.

Here are the photos of the trailers.

 

 

September/October Projects

Where did summer go? It took forever to arrive on the Rez and many other parts of the country and now kids are already back in school and we’re preparing for another winter and Christmas season.  Our project for the past two months has been getting kids ready for school by sending supplies and clothing but now we need to shift our focus to warm clothing, coats, boots, blankets, etc. for the long winter ahead.  You can still include school supplies whenever sending a box as they are needed for the entire school year.

With all the poorly insulated homes and the lack of funds to purchase propane (the main heat source on the Rez) it’s crucial that families have the proper clothing and blankets to keep warm.  Babies, toddlers, diabetics and the elderly are especially vulnerable during the winter and need our help to stay healthy.  All areas we serve need supplies for winter, Wanblee community, Martin women’s shelter, youth center, CDC, nursing home and Head Starts, Marty Indian school in Marty, SD and the baby programs at Bright Start in Pine Ridge and RST Maternal and Child Health on the Rosebud Reservation in SD.

The list is large but by joining with our partner organizations we feel confident about helping many children, elders and families keep warm this winter.  Blankets and winter coats are always a priority and we never seem to have enough to go around so please put them at the top of your list.  We continually receive requests for blankets throughout the winter so if you like to quilt or make afghans our advice is to make all you can. We welcome anything “Warm” that is purchased, sewn, crocheted or knitted as long as it meets the guidelines listed here.

“Winter Warmth/Christmas Begins”

  • 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!
  • Clothing – Warm pants and shirts, sweat/fleece pants and tops and/or warm PJ’s, long underwear and heavy socks, infant through adult.
  • Boots – Snow, fashion and work boots, waterproof or heavier shoes above the ankle ideal.  Toddler through adult.
  •  Warm blankets – Quilts, blankets, afghans for babies through adults.  Crib, toddler, twin, double and queen sizes (king sizes are rare). 
  • Christmas Gifts – Start working on gifts.

Any of the above needs also make wonderful Christmas gifts, teens are happy with a hat, gloves or a scarf and the younger ones too with maybe an added toy.  The November blog will have more information about how to package your Christmas gifts and shipping dates.  The annual “Doll Project” is already in full swing  thanks to SFK member Penny N, project founder and coordinator, and all the other talented members that are busy sewing doll clothes and carriers.  If you would like to join us please visit our Facebook working group Sew For Kids Volunteers.

You can find shipping addresses here and if you have a little extra room in your box, consider adding hot chocolate, tea, coffee and soup mixes, they would be greatly appreciated and could help keep a body warm on a cold winter night.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.

Marty Indian School

Summer vacation will soon be over for students attending Marty Indian School when classes begin the day after Labor Day. A new teacher has recently been hired to teach first grade and they are currently looking for a fifth grade teacher. The majority of kids attended the Boys and Girls club until the end of June so will be eager to get back to school and be with friends again. Testing and reviewing are always on the agenda for the first few weeks of the new year to identify any deficiencies students may have. They did improve their math scores last year because of the grant they received for extra tutoring and although that program has ended teachers will be working with students to make sure they keep and even improve their skills.  Reading scores are still not up to standards so teachers and staff will be working hard to improve those numbers this year.

Since they no longer need the extra room for math tutors the Feather Store room that held clothing, shoes, toiletries, etc. last year is being moved back to the elementary building.  They’re thinking of making one of the rooms into more of an adult room so parents can shop for clothing and toiletries during the day while their children are in school.  The other room would be stocked with toys, school supplies, books, crafts, stuffies, and snacks serving as more of a children’s store. Getting parents coming to the school is one of the main goals so hopefully they will feel more comfortable with the staff and start participating in their child’s education and attend school events.  They do expect parents to attend parent/teacher conferences but they never have the turnout they would like.

Five of our Sew For Kids room parents are returning this year for grades K-5, some of them for the second or third time.  Linda B is going to be the new room parent for grade 1.  Our goal is to have two room parents per grade but some classes still have a single volunteer. We really need more volunteers to help with this program so if this sounds like something you’d like to do please, contact Carol here.  Room parents help their teacher with special needs for a class project, school supplies, healthy snacks and a small gift for each student on their birthday and Christmas. Birthdays are celebrated monthly for all students born that month so cards and gifts can be sent ahead saving money on shipping. Some room parents send all the gifts and cards for the first half of the year and send another box for the last half. Classes have parties for special days and holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter that room parents can help with if they choose. Class sizes are usually around 12 to 14 students, the maximum number the school can have is 95. Last year they had between 75-80 at any given time as students come and go depending on their family situation. Principal Jolene Arrow will send a monthly newsletter and a calendar for the year to the room parents so they will know what their classes are doing and when students are in school.

Room parents aren’t expected to help with all the needs of the classroom.  We have a large group of SFK members that support the Feather Store by sending clothing, shoes, winter gear, toiletries, school supplies, household items, towels, blankets, pillows and pillowcases, toys, Christmas gifts, etc.  This year someone was at the school all summer long to receive packages many members were sending early so kids could have what they needed to start the new year.  Also this summer SFK member, Linda H led a group of volunteers making special badges for the kids saying “Happy Birthday”, “Good Job” and other inspirational messages all made possible by funding from a grant they received.  Thank you Linda and all the volunteers that helped with this project, we can assure you the kids will be thrilled to wear your badges!!

Another SFK member, Ramonia Stephens, stopped in at the school on her way to another state and brought lots of donations for the Feather Store. Ramonia said she felt so welcome during her visit and says they encourage anyone wanting to visit to please do so.

 

Janet S and Penny N will be heading to the school for a fall visit to their classrooms and to drop off supplies for their classes and the Feather Store.  Penny always has plenty of news to report and sometimes takes a video to share with our Facebook group.

Students eat two meals a day at school, breakfast is between 7:30 and 8:00 am and lunch begins at 10:30 am  for the younger kids.  The school day is over at 3:30 pm so kids get pretty hungry in the afternoon unless the school can afford to give out healthy snacks.  Some kids won’t have supper at home or much on the weekend so a healthy snack in the afternoon may be all they eat until returning to school the next morning. Kids cannot concentrate on learning nor perform well on a test if their stomachs are empty.  The school reviews their food budget each year to see how often they’re able to give out snacks, last year they provided snacks 3 days a week for the first term and only 2 days for the last term.  We know how important nutrition is for growing children so SFK started a “Snack Fund” at Lakota Friends Circle and sends the funds directly to the school so they can purchase healthy items locally such as fresh fruit, veggies, yogurt, cheese, nut butters, etc. You can help ensure kids have the nutrition they need by making a small donation to the fund, with many of us working together we can make a difference.

Paulita Drapeau will once again be holding her popular sewing classes for the older kids where they learn to make traditional ribbon skirts including the boys who make them for their mothers or “aunties”. She’ll also be teaching kids about Dakota culture and have craft activities to correspond with their lessons. We will post a list of needs for the sewing and culture project as we learn of them. Paulita is still in charge of stocking the Feather Store and will probably be helping Marty sports teams as well. The school would love to have book donations of all kinds but especially those about Lakota/Dakota or Native Americans (bi-lingual are great) so please keep an eye out for those. They want to encourage students to start a home library so reading becomes a habit providing them with a skill that will serve them throughout their lives.

Principal Jolene Arrow is trying to find a way to work with kids in the community who can’t get one of the 18 spots available in the local Head Start program.  Kids that don’t have access to early education are at a disadvantage when entering kindergarten.  SFK is trying to find ways to get parents to come to the school and learn how to work with their kids at home and also provide them with the books and supplies they need.  Teachers we need your help!  If you have experience in early education or ideas of how we can help Jolene with her program please contact us!

Thanks to all the returning room parents and to everyone that has helped the school over the past three years.  Your caring and generosity is now legendary and we look forward to beginning our fourth year serving Marty Indian School with you.  Thanks to Penny N for being our Ambassador to Marty and providing us with detailed reports of her visits and pictures and videos that make us all feel we’ve been there too!

Please send all donations for Marty Indian School here. and enclose a SASE and the completed tax form (link on the address page) if you need a tax receipt.  If you wish to make a donation for healthy snacks please use this link and type “Marty snack fund” in the comments box.  All donations to the school are tax deductible. Even if you do not want a charitable form but want to make sure that your box got there, send a list of items and a SASE so they can return it to you. Thanks.

Last, but certainly not least, we want to thank one of Lakota Friends Circle’s partner groups, “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation”  for raising $450 for school supplies for 300 students at the Rosebud elementary school on Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.  Fantastic job ladies!  Some ladies are sending their own supplies which works as well. They’re currently working on warm winter items and a washcloth and soap and blankets for every student in the school!

If you want to sew along with us join us on our Facebook Sew For Kids Volunteer page We would love to have you help! And you will meet the nicest people, I can guarantee.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids

 

Martin Community News

 Sacred Shawl Domestic Abuse Shelter

When speaking to Kimmie a few weeks ago she said it hadn’t been a great summer so far.  After dealing with the flooding this spring they’ve had a tornado and quite a few severe thunderstorms to deal with which left roads to the shelter muddy and full of ruts. Fortunately they received a Walmart Community Grant and were able to put gravel down which prevented vehicles from getting stuck and also helped keep the shelter floors a little cleaner. They’ve been shampooing the carpet every 2 days with all the mud being tracked in and will replace with tile but that will have to wait a little longer as they had to replace the air conditioning which was a big expense. Kimmie and employees at the shelter are saving a small amount of their salaries each month to save for tiles which they intend to install themselves. Now those are dedicated employees!

Wild Horse Butte CDC

The CDC was in need of formula for women who come toward the end of every month looking for help and generous members of SFK came through with donations that made sure no babies went hungry.  Formula is always a constant need for babies that aren’t being breastfed and we’re always looking for more donors so we can keep the shelves stocked ensuring there’s formula available when needed. We send monthly shipments of diapers in 3 of the larger size diapers for the shelter and 2 packages of laundry pods, one for the shelter and one for the youth center. Kimmie has women start potty training as early as possible at the shelter so they can save money on diapers. She does share diapers with women in the community if there are any left over which she did last month because the shelter wasn’t full.  They have been giving out cloth diapers to women in the community and they’ve been well received.  Kimmie holds parenting classes for anyone who wants to attend with some attending due to a court order.

Sadly Kimmie said 4 teens have taken their own lives so far this summer on the Rez and one was a participant in the Isnati (coming of age) Ceremony for girls.  Some of the victims had been sexually abused so Kimmie filed for and received a state grant for sexual assault training. She was able to hire a teen advocate who will go to middle and high schools around the Rez and talk to students about suicide prevention and teen violence. Students will be given a hotline number where they can speak to someone 24/7 and receive the help they need.  Kimmie takes the loss of any child personally and feels that she hasn’t done enough. We respectfully disagree, Kimmie has advocated for, mentored and served as an exemplary role model to so many young people in her community and across Pine Ridge and we’re honored to work with her.

My Space Youth Center

The youth center was recently struck by a drunk driver so Kimmie has to find funds to get the building repaired. She’s hoping the tribe will help with some of the expenses as most people don’t have car insurance. The center is really too small for the number of kids they serve but they’re grateful for the space they do have as it provides a safe place for kids to meet with their friends and have fun, get something to eat and sadly for those coming from dysfunctional homes, serving as a home away from home.

Kimmie was able to take the kids on some cultural trips but not as many as she would’ve liked and they did some cultural events at the youth center as well. The kids have been reading this summer and learned to cook thanks to the cooking kits that volunteers from a partner group For the Children of PRR sends to them and the shelter, thanks ladies!  Kimmie bought pool passes for the kids that love to swim and went over budget because she couldn’t say no to any child wanting to swim. She knows it’s great exercise and keeps kids occupied for most of the day. If there is a down side to swimming it’s kids coming back to the youth center ravenous after a day of physical activity which means they need more food to feed the hungry crew. They finally got the garden in, later than usual due to the heavy rains, but hopefully they’ll get enough fresh veggies to help feed all those hungry kids.

Kimmie and her crew are assembling bags for kids going back to school and need our help with backpacks, pencil cases, school supplies, underwear, and clothing sizes 4/5T to 16/18 and S adult.  Kimmie will add some new socks to the bags thanks to your donations and the grant that Barb R. applied for and received from the sock company Bombas who sent a very large number of new socks to Kimmie.  Hopefully this will be a continual grant. The filled bags will be given to children with the most need first.

Kimmie would like to give each Head Start student a blanket for napping at school and a stuffed animal.  The three Head Start’s in the area would also love to have book donations so they have a variety of stories to read to the children each day. Some of the books will be given to kids to take home in hopes it will encourage parents to start reading to their children.

Kimmie is attending a conference in Eureka, California sponsored by 7 Generations, a Native American group, and when she returns will be having knee surgery in September. She fell off a porch a while ago injuring her knees so will need two separate surgeries to repair the damage to already arthritic knees.  She’s worried about being away so much but knows after surgery she can still come in to the shelter, youth center and CDC office and direct although most physical activity will have to wait until therapy is finished. She will be doing her physical therapy at the clinic in Martin, which she was instrumental in getting built for the 800 plus Native Americans living in the area. We wish her well and hope she has a successful surgery and speedy recovery.

Well that wraps up the news for Martin, more blogs to follow about other areas we serve.  Thank you all for helping get the kids ready ready for school in Martin and for all the donations you make all year long.  Thank you to the generous people that make a monthly donation through Lakota Friends Circle that makes it possible for us to help feed kids at the youth center and shelter and help babies with formula and diapers. Please send all donations for the shelter, youth center, CDC office and Head Start here.  If you would like to make a recurring monthly or one time tax deductible donation to our Sew For Kids fund which helps us purchase food, diapers, formula and other critical needs, please use this link and state how you wish your donation to be used in the comments box.

Kimmie sends hugs to all of you as you make her job easier because of your generous donations.

Thanks from Sew For Kids

Back To School Time

Although it seems like kids just got out of school for their summer break, it’s already the middle of July and students in Martin will begin their new school year in mid August and Marty will begin after Labor Day.  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, glue sticks, paper, crayons and markers and add a sketch book or coloring book for giving later as a great Christmas gift.

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.

Jolene Arrow, Principal at Marty Indian School, says they’ve been accepting packages all summer so they can be ready to help students with clothing and school supplies if needed.  Teachers are given a budget for basic school supplies to start the year but many times when supplies run out there are no funds to replace them.  We can help keep students learning by donating school supplies to the school for use later in the year when the cupboards are bare.  As we all know after August the good sales are over and we’re back to paying full price so now is the time to buy regardless of when you choose to ship.  Those of you sponsoring a class this year can contact your teacher for the best time to ship supplies.

Kimmie and her staff are going through the storage containers to see what size clothing is needed and we’ll post the list as soon as we receive it.  She received a big supply of new socks from the Bombas company and we would like to extend our gratitude to Barb R. for taking the time to apply to Bombas donation program and winning all those socks for Kimmie to give out to those in need in the Martin area which includes the shelter, CDC office, youth center and students at the local schools.  Kimmie says the first thing they need is backpacks so they can put together school supplies for the students that are in need.  New or gently used backpacks both welcomed as are the sewn drawstring type for the younger kids.  They also need pencil cases which is a quick sewing project and one that uses scraps from your stash.

Crazy Horse school in Wanblee will get some help from Lakota Kidz , Families Working Together located in Wanblee and from Running Strong. Jerome High Horse picks up school supplies from Running Strong which they distribute to kids during a community BBQ to celebrate the end of summer and the start of school.  The High Horses will accept donations of school supplies, school bags and pencil cases.

“Gather Our Children Home” foster care has received a lot of donations lately from many generous people so we’ll wait for a needs list from them before sending more.

July/August  “Back To School”  

  1. School Clothes – Sew or purchase pants, shirts, skirts, jackets, hoodies, etc. in sizes 4T to 16/18 or adult S/M
  2. Underwear – and sports bras for older girls, sizes 5 to adult S/M
  3. Shoes and Socks – Athletic type most popular, anything waterproof desirable as most don’t have boots. Sizes 12 kids through adult 8/9.
  4. Toiletries – Soap, shampoo and sanitary napkins/tampons.
  5. School Supplies – paper, pens/pencils, markers, crayons, glue sticks, pencil cases, notebooks, paper,etc
  6.  Backpacks – New, home sewn or gently used all accepted.
  7. Detergent, Etc – laundry detergent, bath towels and washcloths for Marty Indian School and Martin Youth Center.

Marty School and the Martin Youth Center both have laundry facilities and will wash student’s clothing if needed.  Kids using the Youth Center are allowed to do one load of their clothing every week.  Sanitary supplies for girls at Marty  in grades 4 and 5 are especially needed so girls will come to school and learn instead of staying home due to lack of supplies as well as at My Space Youth center in Martin where Kimmie keeps supplies so that girls can take some home with them if they need them.  A small bag/purse with some sanitary items would be great for the schools to give out to girls, all the kids like getting toiletries such as soap and shampoo, etc.

Let’s get the kids properly outfitted and excited to begin their new school year by providing them with some new clothing, underwear, shoes and filled backpacks.  Addresses for Kimmie in Martin, Marty Indian School and Jerome High Horse are here.

The next blog will have news and updates from the areas we serve.  Thanks as always to all the members of SFK, For the Children of PRR and many others for helping the kids.

If you prefer to give a monetary donation for the school needs, like snacks for during or after school, or other items, you can donate at Lakotafriendscircle.org/donate/  Tell us how you want your donation used. Thank you