Well…….maybe not just yet but it soon will be, morning and evening temps are already taking a dip. Winter weather can be a big threat to people living on the Rez in substandard housing and without adequate food and clothing to keep them warm. Many find it difficult to find the money to pay for propane, wood or electricity and without electric they have no way to keep a pot of soup going on the stove or make hot drinks to help warm their body. Some parents say they have trouble getting their kids out of a warm bed in the morning to get ready for school because the house is so cold.
For the next 3 months SFK will have an ongoing Warm For Winter project for the three areas we support: Wanblee community and surrounding areas, Marty Indian school in Marty, SD and the Martin area which includes the Sacred Shawl Society’s domestic abuse shelter and the My Space youth center. Some of you work year round on making hats, scarves, etc. so you can start sending those things now to any of the above areas.
Blankets are a constant need and we were still getting requests for them through April of last year. Most elders and children sleep in twin beds, if they have them, and some households will share a full or queen size family bed with the mattress directly on the floor. There are few king size beds on the Rez and blankets that big wouldn’t be easy to launder. Sleeping bags are great to send and can often be found at thrift stores as can blankets. Check your closets and ask family and friends to check theirs for an extra blanket to send to the Rez. I’m a room parent from afar at the Marty Indian School and the teacher there said many children sleep on the floor without a pillow or adequate blankets.
Winter coats are always a need on the Rez, it’s common to see children going to school in the winter wearing just a hoodie or a sweater. The weather can be brutal in SD and kids playing outside or waiting for a bus are at risk for hypothermia. Please help keep the kids warm this winter, look in your closets, ask family and friends to check theirs, shop thrift stores or garage sales and see if you can find a few to send. Children attending school need winter coats the most as they’re the ones out in the elements during the day. Hoodies and sweaters are also needed, if a child doesn’t have a coat these can be layered providing more warmth.
Hats and mittens/gloves are needed to retain body heat and prevent frostbite. These can be knitted, crocheted or sewn from fleece or purchased ready made. Hats can be worn in cold houses to help keep warm and fingerless mitts keep hands warm while fingers are free to do homework, etc. Many children have worn a pair of thin socks on their hands when they had no mittens to wear, they must make do with whatever they have.
Warm socks are also needed as many kids go to school without them because they either don’t have them or the few pairs they do have get wet and they don’t dry in time for school the next day. Most kids don’t have boots and wear athletic type shoes in the winter, if they’re not in good condition their feet are constantly getting wet.
The two age groups we worry about besides school children are babies and elders because they have trouble maintaining their body temperature. Babies need warm clothing, sleep sacks, hats, mittens and blankets. For those under 1 year blankets are to be tucked in the end of the bed and under their arms to help prevent SIDS. Elders need warm items like socks, slippers, shawls, mittens/gloves, hats and blankets.
The Woodchucks (woodcutters) in Wanblee who work out in the winter cutting and delivering wood need warm clothing too, especially work gloves, coats, warm socks and work boots. If you would like to help with heating assistance, Hearts of the Sacred Spirit has a great heating program that helps families with propane, wood or partial payment of a utility bill once each winter. How much help they can provide is determined by the number of donations they receive. This could be a great fundraising project for churches or groups wanting to help people stay warm this winter. LIHEAP is a government program that provides assistance once a year if households fill out an application, funds are limited so it’s on a first come first served basis. This program starts in October and runs through March.
- Coats, hoodies, sweaters – winter weight better but lighter can be layered.
- Gloves, mittens, fingerless mitts, scarves, hats.
- Boots and shoes
- Socks and slippers – Heavier socks better for winter, slippers knit, crocheted or purchased.
- Pajamas – fleece or flannel are warmer.
- Warm clothing – fleece tops and pants, long underwear, any heavier pants and shirts.
- Shawls for elders – knit or crochet, use warm patterns.
- Blankets, quilts, afghans – Use warm patterns if knitting or crocheting. Sizes from baby to twin or full.
- Sheets, pillows and pillowcases – Sizes twin, full and queen – any welcomed but flannel, jersey knit or fleece are warmer in winter.
- Baby needs – Sleepers, sleep sacks, warm clothing, mitts, hats, blankets, use non-lacey patterns if knitting or crocheting.
- Wanblee Woodchucks – Warm socks, long underwear, work coats and work shoes/boots, work gloves and warm hats.
These warm items are needed at all three locations but keep in mind the Marty Indian School are elementary students grades k-5 and the Woodchucks are only in the Wanblee area. If you are sending a box to the school and have a couple of things for babies or elders include them as they can put them in the feather store or they can find someone to use them. We’re always looking for ways to save on shipping and if you’re a one time or occasional donor please save yourself some money. If you have some extra room in your box consider adding a few packets of instant soup, hot chocolate, tea/coffee, or any other food items that would be comforting on a cold day. Mailing addresses can be found here.
Life is tough on the Rez, especially in winter, so lets see what we can do to make a difference to the families we serve. If you can only help once a year, winter is the time folks need your help the most. When the winds are howling this winter and you’re sitting in a warm house or in front of a fire sipping hot chocolate or cider think about how your gift helped make a family on the Rez warm too. Thank you!
And also thank you to the Halfknits who have volunteered once again to work alongside us making some warm blankets for our latest project, the kids in Marty Indian School, in Marty SD. In the past years, Kat and her crew have helped us by sending warm items to the kids in the projects we support. Take a look at what they do here.
Photos of items made in years past by our wonderful volunteers.
School has already begun in many areas across the Rez although some parents are still registering their children and that process may go on for several weeks as they try to find clothing and school supplies. Many kids depend on the two meals provided by the school and eat as much as they can because they know there may be slim pickings when they get home for dinner. Our group along with many other groups have provided some school supplies and clothing to get the kids off to a good start. Thanks to Donna, Carol, Deidra, Stacy, Deanna,and Beulah and others for making/purchasing school bags and pencil cases, the kids were thrilled to receive them. Dresses made by Carol A, Pat S, Angela, Kerry, Lisa ,Joan and her group, Cyrilla,and her group,and Deanna and others I have not mentioned were also a big hit with the girls and made them feel really special. Most kids will have outgrown clothing and shoes worn last year and if in decent condition will be handed down to their siblings. Several of you sent in shoes , new and used in good condition, , thank you Janet, Penny, Deidra and Crystal, Carol etc . The kids got to try them on and choose a pair, just like they would in a store. Socks and underwear have also been sent. August and September are the months to focus on back to school needs which includes underwear, socks and shoes as well as school supplies and clothing. The needs are great so those of you still working on projects or collecting school supplies can send them at any time to any of our project areas. Now on to the news!
In the Martin community Kimmie Clausen, Director of CDC, Sacred Shawl Society and the Youth Center, identified 40 families in great need of clothing and other supplies to get their children ready for school. Thanks to the generosity of Sew For Kids, Lakota Friends Circle and the Ravelry group, “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” and Pine Ridge Elders, Kimmie was able to share some of the surplus of things sent to the shelter with these families so their children could start school on time. There was still plenty of clothing left to fill the needs of women and children arriving at the shelter, which is a testament to how generous our donors are. Parents submitted a list and the staff gave each child a few outfits if they had their size available. Kimmie kept some of the school supplies you sent for the after school programs at the youth center and the rest were sent to the Martin school.
The My Space Youth Center, located in the Martin housing project, will be open from 4 pm to 10 pm on week nights and 10 am to 10 pm on weekends. Currently Kimmie is using volunteers from the community to staff the center when it’s open and pays them a token $25 a day for their time, but she is applying for grants so she can hire a youth center program coordinator which will make her life a lot easier. After school is over kids can come to the youth center for a snack and then get help finishing their homework provided by college tutors needing to earn community service hours. Having access to the internet, thanks to Kimmie’s efforts and the grantor, will certainly simplify the homework process. Kids having a place to go with electricity and heat is a plus for those living in rural areas or in homes where bills haven’t been paid, they won’t have to work under a lantern or candle or crawl into bed early just to keep warm in a cold house. After homework is finished kids will each spend an hour reading or having someone read to them. Thanks to Laurie Allen, 3 bookcases recently made their way to the youth center and books from various donors soon followed. More are always a need. Someone in the community donated a theater quality popcorn machine so the kids can eat a healthy snack while they read or hang out. They have enough popcorn for now thanks to some generous donations but buying the oil has been an expense they really can’t afford. Barb Reinert came to their rescue and sent enough popcorn oil to last for a while and she also sent 2 waffle irons which can be used to make sandwiches and other things too. Thanks Barb, Kimmie can’t wait to try them out! The center recently received a new cook stove thanks to the efforts of Anne, Irene, Karen and Carol, now they can have a hot meal ready for the kids and they can also teach them to cook and bake as well. Some of the kids have already been baking cookies to share with everyone in the center. We might want to think about making some aprons in the future to keep those school clothes clean. Kimmie asked the kids what they wanted her to prepare for the first meal on their new stove and the decision was unanimous, spaghetti and meatballs! Generous donors in our groups have sent plates, cups, cutlery, cooking utensils, pots and pans, a coffee pot and coffee, food, paper products, and the list goes on. Thank you all for helping make the center an inviting place for the kids. Kimmie is attending a required conference this week, but when she returns she’ll be taking an inventory of the youth center to see if anything is still needed.
The shelter has been busy and Kimmie finally, after many months of untold stress, has received her first 3 month installment from the Department of Justice grant they were awarded which totals $475,000 over the next three years. The funds were tied up in the tribal Department of Public Safety and Kimmie has requested a monthly meeting with officials so this funding issue, that almost closed down the shelter, doesn’t happen again. They desperately need to keep the shelter open as this is the only shelter for domestic abuse/rape on Pine Ridge Reservation. While receiving this grant is a blessing, $125,000 per year still isn’t enough to run the shelter, $200,000 is needed to cover basic operational costs each year. They’re hoping to get a $100,000 grant from NOVA but that will take a while. The only reason the shelter has been able to remain open is the receipt of a some smaller grants in the $5-10,000 range and all the generous donations of everything from food and clothing to cleaning supplies that you’ve sent in, for which there is no budget. Kimmie is so thankful to each and every one of you who has helped make the shelter a reality and for all your efforts to ensure that it stayed open.
One of the big expenses for them has been travel expenses (gas), getting women and children to the shelter from violent homes, to court appointments, to Rapid City for documents, making food pick ups in Rapid City, etc. Staffing is another expense and they really need to hire another person so Kimmie doesn’t have to cover weekends at the shelter. Food is another major expense, despite getting food from the food bank in Rapid City at 18 cents a pound, they still have to drive 2 hours to pick it up and not everything can be purchased there. Food items such as eggs, milk and bread still have to be purchased at local stores in Martin. They’re feeding the shelter residents and the kids at the youth center where as many as 60 hungry kids can show up, so they’re struggling a bit to cover that cost. Fortunately the school breakfast and lunch programs are functioning again so an afternoon snack is all they need to provide on week nights, the weekends are a different story.
Kimmie has been delighted to receive office supplies from Diannah Perez and the company she works for. Those supplies have been split between the youth center, the CDC and the shelter and has saved them about $250. A Big thanks to Diannah and her employer for that gift! Dolls, doll clothes and doll furniture have been sent to the shelter thanks to Penny Nickols, Kerry Robertson, Ruth Gates, Deanna Williams, Jill Santiago and many others. Much needed baby items continue to come in and a special thanks to Christine Widman who sent a 52 lb. box of goodies for babies 0-2 years this past week, great not only for the shelter but also the clinic and Bright Start program. The shelter has used a lot of diapers lately and thankfully have received donations to restock the smaller sizes. The last several kids wore size 5 diapers so they need that size replaced. The shelter has joined the Jet program but they don’t have a credit card (due to the uncertainty of funds) so for now can’t order through them. They do use cloth diapers but still need to have some disposables on hand when things get hectic at the shelter or kids head off with their parents for appointments. If you wish to donate diapers to the shelter you can send them here or can send money to the Sacred Sacred Shawl Society for that expense.
Women who arrive at the shelter with their children are required to send them to school if they’re going to be there more than a few days. Buses from all over the Rez will pick them up and take them to the school they’re registered in. This helps keep the noise and activity level down and saves on food costs at the shelter and also provides a normal routine for kids coming from abusive homes. Kids being in school also allows time for staff to work with women who need to get to court, go to parenting or conflict resolution classes, to the clinic if they have health issues, and to work on housing options when they’re ready to leave the shelter.
Back to school time for kids in Wanblee means going to their local school, Crazy Horse, or traveling to schools in Kadoka or Kyle. Jerome and Theresa made a trip to Manderson to pick up shoes, backpacks, school supplies and other items from Running Strong and while there received a call from the food bank in Rapid City to come and pick up a shipment of free food. Lakota Friends Circle paid for transportation costs using money from a $1500 food grant Director Anne Fields had won from Walmart at the beginning of summer. The grant also provided monies to feed over 120 elders a nutritious breakfast at the local Pow Wow. Additional school supplies for kids have been donated by NAHA. Many of our members sent clothing and school supplies to Wanblee so the kids would be ready for school
Lakota Friends Circle is looking at possible fundraisers to help purchase freezers and refrigerators for the community center when completed. Once the building is enclosed and they have the appliances in place, the food bank will deliver the food to the center saving the traveling time and expense of picking it up in Rapid City. This setup would allow them to keep food in storage for those needing it later in the month and also gives them the luxury of delivering food to individual homes the next day instead of the same day they pick it up as is being done now. Some of our donors have sent many other things they thought could be used for the programs that will be held in the community center once finished. Jerome and Theresa High Horse no longer have tenants in their basement so they do have room now for some storage. Blankets, warm clothing and other necessities for winter should not be sent just yet and please don’t send Christmas gifts unless you have no space to store them in your home as there is no guarantee they will be there when the season arrives. They are still experiencing warm weather on the Rez so spring and summer clothing can still be used for a month or more. Kids attending Crazy Horse school in Wanblee have access to a swimming pool so swimsuits and towels are welcome. Kids can swim in the pool on weekends with family members and also after tutoring sessions during the week.
Youthworks volunteers have gone home until next year, the teens had a great time and were very helpful to Jerome and the community. After many issues with electrical installation, sewer and plumbing, framing is now in the process of being built for the community center and hopefully they’ll have the building enclosed by late September or early October before the snows come. Thanks to the donation from Mary and Bob Epps from Families Working Together, they will have the building structure in place. They have a contractor doing the outside work but Jerome is looking for volunteers to help with the inside construction to save money. Once the center is up, programs will be planned and they will need supplies for the soup kitchen, sewing center, tutoring program, and sports equipment and games for entertainment. They are still seeking grants and donations to finish the inside work. If you want to donate to the build, you can send money to Families Working Together. If you wish to make a donation towards future fridges and freezers, you can send money to Lakota Friends Circle. Both organizations are a 501 c3 non profit so donations are tax dedcutible. Please indicate what you want the money used for. Here are some photos that Jerome took of the building site.
Our elementary school project in Marty, SD got off to a good start. Our group has been making or purchasing school clothing and many other things to get the kids ready for school which began August 22. School principal, Gina Curran, moved a new shelf into the Feather Room to hold all the new donations coming in. Thank you Laurie Allen for sending storage bins to the school to hold all the surplus. Clothing arrived and all the girls in the 4th grade class received a new home sewn outfit of a skirt and top, they were amazed that someone actually made them. Room parents (SFK volunteers) have been set up for kindergarten through 5th grade with 2 members helping in each class and plenty of others waiting in the wings to help if needed. They will be helping with school supplies, snacks, toiletries, books, special class project needs and some fun things for holiday class parties. We’ll be posting news from each class and the projects they’re working on so we can all share in this new experience for Sew For Kids. Gina Curran told us about a Kindergarten student they found crying in school and when asked why he was so upset, he said because he was still hungry even though they had just finished lunch. Once again our generous SFK members to the rescue, they had some snacks recently sent in by you so were able to give him a little something extra to get him through the rest of the day. Many children experience food shortages at home so nutritious snacks that can be kept in the classroom or sent home with children at risk are always needed. Students needing help can go to the local Boys and Girls Club after school and receive tutoring from two teachers provided by the school. Summer school is also held there with teachers provided by the school. Here are some photos provided by Gina Curran.
Well now you’re all up to date with the news from the Rez and the Marty Indian School. We have so many talented people on our site to thank and so many generous people who have supplied the other needs that sewing just can’t take care of. We’ll be sharing more about these wonderful people in our next blog. Please join us on our very active Sew For Kids Volunteers Facebook group, or our Sew for Lakota Kids Yahoo group.
As mentioned in the last blog Marty Indian school has a room they’ve turned into the “Feather Store”. It’s not made of feathers nor does it house birds but instead is a place where students come to “buy” school supplies, shoes, toys, etc. using feathers for currency. They earn feathers by displaying the four Dakota values of Courage, Generosity, Wisdom and Bravery. Gina Curran, school principal, explains further.
“The Feather Store is stocked with basic school supplies, donated toys, etc. Children earn a feather for displaying the Dakota values and their parent also earns a matching feather. They can then go to the Feather Store and use their feathers to purchase shoes, school supplies, toys, clothes, and so on. Parents can also go to the store and spend their feathers on care packages (dish rag, soap, tooth paste, tooth brushes, combs, feminine hygiene items), t-shirts, backpacks, etc.” They prefer to have kids earn some of the things they need/want instead of just handing things out We applaud Gina and the school for implementing this program which gives people a hand up, not a hand out.
New toys or in gently used condition are needed. They may include coloring books, crayons, puzzles, games, Lego type blocks, cars, trucks, sports items, stuffies, dolls, backpacks and pencil cases filled or empty, craft items, etc. Battery operated toys aren’t the best choice since they probably don’t have the money to replace them, exceptions would be toys that are still “playable” without batteries. Since there’s a feather value assigned to each item in the store,depending on what they want, may require kids to save their feathers which in turn teaches them patience and the value of saving money. We’re leaving the choice of what to send up to you, the experts, you’ve always done such a marvelous job on all our projects and know you will on this one as well.
Gina also wants to start a “Sponsor a Classroom” program so classes can get items they need and maybe kids can receive a special treat on holidays. Volunteers would essentially be virtual classroom parents. Gina says she will make sure there is communication between teachers and their classroom sponsors. They’re currently trying to encourage all parents to attend their child’s student-teacher evaluation. Reading through some of the classroom notes to parents it looks like a few classes reached that goal and others nearly reached it.
There are 6 classrooms, grades K-5 with a total of 95 students. If we get at least 2-4 sponsors per class we’ll work with Gina setting it up. We don’t have the numbers of each class or genders (there are more boys) but will get further information if enough of our members are interested. I was a room parent for a year in the kindergarten class of Our Lady Of Lourdes School on Pine Ridge Reservation and had the best time filling needs that were missing in the classroom. For Christmas I asked each of my neighbors to fill a stocking I had made for each child, they were very generous and all of us had the best Christmas that year. The teacher was so thankful she could make her student’s experience in Kindergarten a good one, as it should be. If you would like to help in the classrooms please contact us here or here.
Other needs for the classroom are nutritious snacks that teachers can keep in their rooms for kids who are hungry, especially the ones they know will not be getting dinner that night. Kids are very active and rapidly growing and although most eat the two meals served at school, they sometimes need a morning or afternoon snack. Presently the Special Ed teacher is buying snacks using her own money which isn’t always possible At Crazy Horse School in Wanblee, and probably others across the Rez, kids eat more on Friday and Monday because there may not be adequate food at home. Food is more plentiful at the beginning of the month when families get their food stamps but supplies dwindle as the end of the month approaches and kids go hungry. The school will send home lunch leftovers for those who are the neediest. Having a backpack would again help protect kids privacy as they take home food or other items to help them.
Another way you can help the school is by collecting and sending box tops to the school to support the “Boxtops for Education Program. They also collect metal pull tabs from beverage cans and other cans and send them to the state at the end of the year to earn credit for their school. Please get your friends and family involved in these collections, it costs nothing and you’re just simply cutting box tops off or saving tabs from products you already buy and it can make a big difference to the school.
If you would like to help us with the feather program, sending nutritious snacks, or the boxtop program, for the school please send items to this address:
Via FedEx or UPS
Marty Indian School
c/o Gina Curran, Principal
100 S Main St
Marty, SD 57361
Via Post Office
Marty Indian School
c/o Gina Curran, Principal
Po Box 187
Marty , SD 57361
Please enclosed a SASE if you want a response back so there will be no mailing expense for the school. We are developing a form you can use to have sent back to you to verify your donation and will share it with you on our facebook page once it is completed. We will be sending some to the school along with the some envelopes and stamps for those who forget to send them. The school is a 501c3 non-profit so your gift should qualify as a charitable tax deduction but always check with your accountant. Since the school is considered a “business”, don’t forget to check the “This is a business” box if you’re preparing your Fedex or UPS shipment online or tell the clerk if using a shipping store. The rates are cheaper than sending to a personal address. You can also require a signature so you know your package was received.
Education is the key to a successful future for kids, so lets support that effort by helping with the resources they need to keep them moving forward!
Back to school time is just around the corner, actually beginning in the next two to three weeks depending on the school district. Kids will be excited to see friends, share summer news, meet their new teachers and begin a new year of studying and learning to help them achieve their goals and dreams. Many of them will be looking forward to the two meals, breakfast and lunch, served at school which many may not have received at home over the summer. If kids live near a school or attended summer classes, the summer food program was available to them if they chose to use it.
At the end of the last school year we were approached by the principal of Marty Indian School for our help. The principal, Gina Curran, searched the web for groups that might be able to help her 95 K through 5 students and found us! Gina grew up in Wanblee SD, one of the areas we help, and at one time was principal of their local school, Crazy Horse. Marty Indian School is located about 240 miles east of PRR near the Nebraska border and on the Yankton Sioux Reservation, members are Western Dakota and part of the Great Sioux Nation. This area is even more isolated than PRR and the students receive few outside donations mainly because of their location and not being a well known school. Their location also makes it difficult to attract and keep teachers long term. There are two housing projects in the area and is where most of the elementary students live. Students in middle school and high school receive room and board at the school and come from the local reservation as well as other reservations (including PR) across SD.
When I mentioned the school to Jerome High Horse he sang the praises of Gina having known her as one of their local kids and the Marty School too as he had relatives that attended there and visited there many times himself. With Jerome’s enthusiastic recommendation and after speaking to Gina, hearing that she really wanted to make a difference in the lives of the kids she was responsible for, we were getting very excited. She was asking for basic needs for her students, needs in our opinion every child should be entitled to! The deal was sealed when Anne Fields, Director of Lakota Friends Circle, was on her way home to Georgia after an eight week stay in Pine Ridge and decided to get off the beaten path and maybe even visit the school and say hello to Gina if she had time. Fate intervened, Anne hit a deer at dusk just outside of town and had to be towed to a local motel. The car couldn’t be repaired for three days so Anne called Gina and along with Gina’s husband (also a teacher at the school) drove her to all the places she needed to go and gave her a tour of the school. Anne was quite impressed with the school and with Gina and her husband and their willingness to show her around not to mention their generous help in her time of need. Anne felt this would be a great place to help and a great fit for our group. We are adding the Marty Indian School to our projects which also includes Wanblee Community projects, Sacred Shawl Society’s domestic abuse shelter for women and their children and the My Space Youth Center in Martin, SD. Please read our past blogs to find out more about these programs.
Classes begin at the school on August 19 but Gina and her teachers are already back preparing for the students arrival. The school receives government funds to purchase school supplies for students so they buy pencils, crayons, glue sticks and all the notebooks they’ll need for the year. What they need is a constant restocking of pencils, crayons, glue sticks (Elmer’s in a bottle if mailing in hot weather) as well as dry erase markers for their boards which is a big expense. Library books for the K -5 level and higher are also needed. While they’re fortunate to have a great library, kids take books home, some of them are never returned and parents can’t afford to replace them. So books are needed for the library, for kids home libraries and for the reading room boarding students (grades 6-12) use when the library is closed. Gina said 30% of their grade 4 students in elementary school are reading at that level and above so they want to maintain that and move others ahead. Unfortunately, by 9th grade 80% of students are only reading at the grade 5 level, something they hope to change with a grant they received to increase their reading proficiency. The bottom line is BOOKS are needed for all grades!
- Pencils, erasers
- Glue sticks or bottled glue if shipping in hot weather
- Dry erase markers for teacher’s boards
- Books for all ages K-12
Many children don’t have adequate clothing so the school has added a washing machine to the nurse’s room so she can wash a child’s clothing that has been worn for a week or more. They need clothing in all sizes to give out to those that need more and to have on hand to dress the student in while theirs is being laundered. A sink has been installed in the “Feather” room (see next blog) so kids can wash their hair. Many students will get lice so teacher’s aides will treat them with the appropriate medicine and then comb their hair with a special fine toothed comb to remove nits (lice eggs), the process takes two weeks to make sure they’re gone. Kids lack many of the basic hygiene items needed to keep themselves clean, they might have running water if the utility bill has been paid which may not happen in the colder months when a decision must be made to pay the electric bill or buy propane for heat. The school likes to fill small Ziploc bags with hotel size shampoo, wash cloth, bar of soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and a comb to hand out to kids they think need them, parents can receive one too. The bags are kept small to be discrete since kids don’t have pencil cases and backpacks to hide them in. Helping kids maintain their dignity is important to the school but it’s also very important to our group. They don’t always have the resources on hand to make these toiletry bags so they depend on donations from people like you.
Clothing and Toiletry Needs
- Jeans and pants
- T shirts and shirts, long and short sleeved
- Hoodies and sweaters
- Dresses and skirts
- Socks and underwear (especially small sizes, they’re still accident prone)
- Mittens, gloves, scarves, hats
- Coats and jackets
- Pj’s and slippers
- Shoes (huge need!) and boots
- Hotel size shampoo and conditioner
- Ziploc bags (probably quart size)
- Comb and/or small brush
- Toothbrush and small toothpaste
Many kids come to school in just a sweater, even in winter so a warm coat would be greatly appreciated. Last year the upper grades received a donation of coats from an organization, unfortunately most of them were too small but they did fit the younger kids who were most appreciative of their misfortune. Pj’s and slippers are something kids don’t usually receive along with pillows and pillowcases. Blankets are always needed and of course sheets, towels and washcloths. We would prefer to send new pillows but everything else can be in gently used condition.
- Pillows (new) and pillowcases
- Blankets, quilts, afghans
- Sheets, twin, full and queen
- Towels and washcloths
Shoes are a BIG need, now where have we heard that before? Children receive a new pair of shoes at the end of the school year from the company “TOMS”. When the new school year begins many kids will be wearing those same shoes that have been worn outside all summer and many will be in terrible condition or outgrown. Last year Gina remembers supergluing the sole of a student’s shoes that had come apart so they could wear them a little longer. Kids can wear used shoes in good condition, new shoes are always a treat, but better to have some protection on the feet than none. Just like the dirty or worn out clothing, if the school has extra shoes on hand to give out to those that need them, they feel they can make a difference to the child and not draw attention to them as being poor. The goal is to make kids feel good about themselves and build self esteem.
Since there’s more information to share and this blog is getting long, part two will follow with more information. There’s plenty of info for you to chew on here and help you get started on the needs. A special shout out to all the wonderful seamstresses at Dress A Girl, can you help us out with clothing for boys and girls?? Thanks to every one of our members of SFK!!!
It’s been a while since we posted any news from the shelter but that hasn’t deterred our generous members from sending many boxes of clothing, shoes, toys and other needs to help women and children at the shelter. We’re so happy to report that Kimmie will finally receive the money from the $450,000 grant awarded to the shelter from the Justice Department in Washington. She would have had the money months ago had tribal politics not gotten in the way, thankfully that issue has been resolved.These funds are supposed to last three years but they need at least $200,000 per year to function which covers employees salaries, food, rent, utilities and other critical needs so Kimmie is busy trying to find more grants to apply for. Employees at the shelter are local people, mostly Native American, and they also have 2 TANF workers who sort clothing and other things we send in. Kimmie is also looking for funding to finish the 3 rooms over the garage which they need for larger families, those that are ill or those in need of a quiet area as they heal from their trauma. Recently they’ve had several rape victims admitted and Kimmie has been taking trauma courses and in turn training her employees so they can help clients with their physical and emotional traumas. She has learned through her training that the community needs a team approach when handling abuse cases as these families have so many areas of need to address. They’ll be working this year on getting nurses, doctors, police, social workers, therapists, etc. coordinated and working together on solving the different issues each case presents.
Kids can go outside and play and have fun thanks to all the wonderful things our volunteers have donated to the shelter such as toys, baby strollers, shoes (a huge need!), and summer clothing. Kimmie is continually amazed at how quickly our groups, SFK, Ravelry -For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation and Pine Ridge Elders, respond whenever a need is posted. There is no funding for anything other than the costs of running the shelter so everything we send, helps clients with personal needs and lets them know there are people who do care about them and their well being and hopefully in some small way helps them with their recovery. Kids still love their blankets and stuffies and either hide them or carry them around all day so no one takes them. They love the books we’ve sent and the little ones love to be read to. Kimmie has many photos to share with us and will post them when she can find a minute to spare. One thing they could really use are bags for clients to put their belongings in when leaving the shelter. We feel plastic bags aren’t an option and want clients to feel good when they start over. Purchased bags new or gently used or hand crafted are all welcome.
The police department has given the shelter 2 police cars to use for transporting clients to their appointments. Previously employees were using their own personal vehicles which caused a lot of wear and tear to them on the long trips around the Rez and since they only make $10 an hour really can’t afford any repair bills should they break down. Kimmie is hoping to get free car seats from an organization in Rapid City to use for transporting children.
A new White House initiative aimed at helping low income families buy more affordable diapers was recently announced which also helps the shelter buy diapers at a reduced rate from Jets.com . You can donate money to that program if you wish through the Sacred Shawl Society’s website. Some SFK members have been sending cloth diapers to the shelter and clients are using them while there which helps reduce one of the shelter expenses. Women are given instructions on how to use and care for cloth diapers which most have never seen let alone used. Many families coming to the shelter don’t have running water in their homes so using cloth diapers isn’t an option there. We want to send Deidra Quellette Heyne Finch and Penny Nickols a special Thank You for their efforts in making and sending cloth diapers to the shelter. Others have sent them as well but Deidra who also sews diapers for other organizations and Penny have made a big difference to this program. Deidra sews flats and makes separate covers from PUL so the folded diaper can be inserted and replaced with a clean one when needed and the cover wiped down and reused. Penny makes flats and covers. Many others supply all the items needed for diaper wearers. Thank you to those individuals as well. Teamwork works.
Kimmie Claussen isn’t just the Director of the shelter, she wears many hats in the community including being the Director of Wild Horse Butte CDC (Community Development Corporation) which is one of the reasons she’s not always available to take a phone call. She along with the Board of Directors at the CDC were instrumental in getting a health clinic built for the 800 Native Americans living in their community. Yes, she’s also on the clinic’s Board of Directors! Eventually they will need a Chief Administrator but have been holding off on that decision until they see if enough patients use the clinic and they can afford the cost. So far the clinic is being used by many people and has filled a huge void on that part of the Rez, patients no longer have to travel long distances to access health care. Anne Fields, Director of Lakota Friends Circle, recently visited the clinic while on a visit to the Rez and was very impressed with how nice and clean the building was and with the services they provide. Pine Ridge hospital on the Rez is currently dealing with several issues and the emergency room will be staffed with an outside agency. Our groups and others provide baby items to the nurses in the prenatal and postnatal department at the clinic and also to Bright Start nurses who follow newborns through age 2 across Pine Ridge. Bright Start and the nurses from the clinic pick up their baby items at the shelter storage area and make bags for their clients from items sent in by SFK, For the Children of PRR Ravelry group and PRR Elders group. Many thanks to all of you helping Pine Ridge babies!
As Director of the CDC, Kimmie also works on issues for elders who have many needs and uses Rural grants to get them much needed help such as home repairs or wheelchair ramps installed or trying to find housing for those in need of a home. Kimmie knows all too well about housing shortages as many of her clients have no safe home to go to when they leave the shelter and some will end up returning to the abusive homes they came from. The housing situation across the Rez is deplorable with some estimates saying 60 percent of available housing needs to be torn down due to toxic black mold. More Native Americans are wanting to return and live on the Rez which will only add to the housing shortage. Kimmie is busy meeting with others in the community discussing ways to solve the housing problem, they know it is a daunting task and one that will take time and lots of money. Elders are always in need and sometimes overlooked so please send items such as warm hats, gloves and scarves and coats for them which can be stored at the shelter until needed.
The youth center in Martin officially opened with a ceremony and blessing on May 27 and is being called the My Space Youth Center. The project was developed by Craig Dillon, LaCreek Tribal Council Representative and the CDC. Kimmie wrote grants for help setting up the center and a doublewide trailer was purchased and completely remodeled so the interior looks like new. She asked kids in the community what they wanted most in the center and computers, a TV and Wii games were tops on their list. Another grant from the Dietel Foundation made possible the purchase of 6 computers, a TV and the Wii game. Furniture for the center was purchased secondhand. They have a refrigerator to stock food for kids who arrive hungry which is more likely in the summer when school is out. They’re looking for a stove so they can teach kids to cook and sewing machines are on the future wish list too. They will be setting up a library so books will be needed and once crafting programs begin will need supplies to get started. Staffing is provided by community volunteers and are paid a token of $25 per day for their help. Security equipment has been purchased for the center.
The kids are so excited to finally have a place to hang out and be with friends and parents are thrilled about having a safe place for their children to go. Kids have to sign a contract when coming to the center stating they understand and will abide by the rules. If they have 3 violations they’re suspended from using the center for a few months. Kids can come and do homework and Kimmie is looking for college students to help them when school starts again. Each child that comes to the center is given a canvas to paint and will be hung on the wall when finished. They have plans to bring in someone to teach art to the kids which isn’t part of the curriculum in many schools on the Rez. Other activities planned are movie nights and sweat lodges and those being planned for the future are a garden for 2017, and trips to cultural sites on the Rez along with educational classes about their Lakota heritage.
Anne Fields from Lakota Friends Circle found a grant to honor a person and after talking together and deciding it should be Kimmie, we asked her if she would let us apply in her name and she said YES! She was accepted in the initial process and placed in the pool of people competing for the prize. She must write a narrative and answer questions as to why she deserves to win either the $100, 000 grant or one of the two $25,000 grants. Kimmie has helped her people in so many ways over the years and continues to be a driving force for them so we’re hoping she will make the final cut and win one of the prizes. She dreams about what she can do for the CDC, the shelter and the youth center if she wins. That’s Kimmie, always thinking about how she can better the lives of others. Go Kimmie!!
SFK recently honored Kimmie with a Barbie doll as we wanted her to have something to “play ” with when stresses from the many hats she wears gets overwhelming. Our group under the direction of Penny Nickols, ( our doll lady!) bought and dressed a doll. The idea initially began when someone sent in some Barbie dolls and clothes for the kids and Kimmie mentioned in one of our conversations that she and the rest of the crew were having a blast dressing and playing with the dolls, at the end of the call she said ” Send me a Barbie doll”! Kimmie was delighted to receive her doll and accompanying wardrobe and shared her new gift and letter from us with her staff. Many older women on the Rez never had dolls to play with when they were children. If you remember last Christmas when our dolls were sent to Wanblee for the party, Jerome and Theresa gave one of them to a woman that was helping unpack them saying she had never owned a doll in her life.
We want to thank everyone who has supported Kimmie, the shelter and other programs in the Martin community. Please know that no matter what you send it will find a home and may just be that little extra boost someone needs to have a brighter day.
In closing , we want to again welcome all of you who have recently joined either our Sew For Lakota Kids Yahoo group or our Sew For Kids Volunteer group. You all rock !
Its been a while since we posted any news on the Wanblee area so wanted to let you all know what’s been going on there. Now that summer is here volunteers are or will be arriving to do various projects for the community. The main activity for the High Horses is to get the community center built. Jerome and Theresa are working with the non profit Families Working Together to make this project a reality. It has taken a lot longer to begin work than they had anticipated, first adequate funding had to be raised to begin the project, then the original building plans went over budget so those had to be revised. Although they have funds for the initial work, more will have to be raised to complete the building as they envision. Although SFK isn’t involved with building the center we do hope to help with some of the resources they’ll need for the community programs held there. If you would like to make a monetary donation to help with the build, you can do so at the FWT website. SFK works together with FWT on the annual Christmas and Easter parties.
Youthworks has arrived and started work this week painting houses, building outhouses, mowing grass and cutting weeds (so rattlesnakes are more visible), and helping people, mostly elders, set up their gardens. Each group of kids stays for a week and in addition to all the work they do, there is some spare time to take tours of the Rez and learn about Lakota culture, compliments of Jerome.
Jerome says they’re in need of a few more push mowers and cordless drills to get more volunteers working on projects so if anyone has an extra or wants to purchase a new one we know they would be thrilled to have it. If you happen to be making a trip to the Rez this summer bring it with you, drop it off and say Hi to Jerome and Theresa. SFK is mainly a sewing group but we do like to post needs of all kinds because some of our volunteers like to send tools, and other needs.
NAHA and Running Strong distributions continue with gas money being supplied by Lakota Friends Circle. Jerome and Theresa head to the food bank in Rapid City toward the end of every month when food stamp money is running out. LFC also supplies the gas money for these trips and sometimes helps with the purchase of food.FWT also provides food money but presently all their funds are tied up with the community center build. Anne Fields, Director of LFC, recently applied for and won a $1500 grant from Walmart which will certainly help with food needs this summer. One Spirit was planning to open a food bank in Wanblee but those plans have now been canceled. Once the community center is finished and equipped with freezers and shelving, the food bank in Rapid City will deliver the food to them. Although they’ll still have to pay a gas charge and the 18 cents per pound for food, Jerome and Theresa won’t have to make the long trip each month which will save them valuable time. Currently any food coming in has to be distributed immediately as there are no freezers or storage areas which means any emergency food requests are handled by the High Horses with funds being taken from their own pocket. A soup kitchen is planned for the new center so having the ability to store food will mean they’ll have something on hand to cook and will also make the job of filling out the monthly food order easier.
Finally a 4th of July party is being planned with the expectation that 350-400 people will attend. There is food for the party, thanks to the Walmart grant, but they want to have games for the kids and need prizes, such as jump ropes, kites, bubbles, sand box toys, balls, bats, gloves, bike accessories, fishing poles, and any other outdoor toys. If you would like to help with any of the above, prizes can be sent to the High Horses at this address or monetary donations to PayPal Lakota Friends Circle . Please tell them on the PayPal form how your donation is to be used. If you’re sending prizes via Amazon or other online store, please note on the order that it’s a gift and add your name and address so they’ll know whom to thank. Kids look forward to the party and usually the chairperson of the district finds some money for fireworks. SFK doesn’t “officially” sponsor this party but some of our members do like to contribute so please help if you feel so inclined.
Well that’s all the news from Wanblee for now, another blog shortly to update you all on the latest from the women’s shelter in Martin. Jerome and Theresa extend their deepest thanks and gratitude to everyone that sent in donations of kids shoes and summer clothing over the last month. Thanks to your kindness kids are out enjoying their summer activities with proper attire. Thanks to everyone at SFK for your continuing support and generosity.
Its been a while since the last blog post but we know our group has been busy working on the summer clothing project and many boxes of goodies have already made their way to the shelter and Wanblee. The shelter will always have a huge clothing need, regardless of the season, as most kids arrive with just the clothes on their backs. This past week three teen boys arrived and they had nothing in their size, they could really use boys boxers, shorts and T shirts in sizes 14-20. When clothing and other donations arrive in Wanblee they’re usually given out right away as they have no storage area, the trailer that was originally purchased to store clothing and other goods is now filled with all the building materials they’ll need for the house rehab project this summer. Jerome and Theresa had previously stored what they could in their basement but that area is presently serving as a home for a needy family. Volunteers will soon be arriving to help build the new community center (with storage area!) and to help elders and other residents with home repairs, painting, gardening, etc. Youthworks volunteers are arriving now and will work into mid August.
Both Martin and Wanblee had asked for kids summer shoes and many of you answered that need by sending new and gently used shoes, now they can do all those things kids do in the summer with decent shoes on their feet, Thank You! Many of you sent underwear and socks to the shelter and, like shoes, are always in high demand. Lots of baby and toddler items including diaper bags were sent to restock the shelter and to help with the Bright Start project. A new stroller was purchased for the shelter so women can now take their babies for a walk and both can enjoy the fresh air and exercise. Many books, toys, dolls, etc. were sent to help kids enjoy their summer. Keeping young minds active with positive activities is so important for kids and unless they’re going to summer school, there’s little for them to do. If you’re still working on summer items or find them at garage sales or thrifts, please feel free to send them as August and September are still warm months on the Rez and kids can wear them when they start school. Youth programs are sorely needed in most areas on the Rez and is the main reason Kimmie Clausen, Director of CDC, the youth center and women’s shelter in Martin and Jerome and Theresa High Horse in Wanblee are advocating for a place for kids and adults to hang out in the summer and on weekends.
A big thanks to all of you that sent clothing, underwear, shoes, etc. for women at the shelter. If women are admitted as a rape case they need new clothing because what they’re wearing will be taken as evidence. Most women are leaving in a hurry from a violent situation which doesn’t allow time for packing a bag. The shelter still needs women’s packaged panties in sizes 6, 7 and 8 and sports bras in sizes small to X large. Another need when clients leave the shelter is a tote bag for clothing and other items they receive while there. Tote bags, duffels, drawstring bags, etc. would all be great to send.
In January we posted our list of projects for the year in this blog. It’s time to move on to our next project which has lots of opportunities for shoppers and sewers alike. Summer PJs, pillows, pillowcases, bedding and blankets to keep people comfortable on those cool summer desert nights are always appreciated. Theresa High Horse said larger blankets in double and queen sizes are always needed as many households share a family bed. Most elders use twin size bedding and it’s rare to see a king size bed on the Rez. Some families just sleep on the cold floor until a mattress can be found for them. Gently used sheets and blankets are welcome as are towels and washcloths and can often be found at thrifts or garage sales or in our own closets. New bedding and towels are welcome, of course, but are costly unless you find a good sale so we feel it’s better to have good used linens than none at all. Sleeping bags are another great thing to send due to the bed shortage, please launder if sending used and add a sheet insert so the bag stays clean and just the sheet needs laundering.
Another project to work on this summer is helping families get their kids off to school on the first day by donating clothing and school supplies. Many parents keep their children out of school until they can find the funds to purchase what they need. This practice gives kids another hurdle to overcome as they’re behind their other classmates when they finally do join them. Their absence also affects the funding their school receives for each student as the census is usually taken during the first two weeks of the new school year. Let’s help the kids start school on time by donating:
- Washable markers, fine and wide tipped
- Glue and glue sticks (melt in the mail in the warmer months)
- Paper, loose and spiral bound, wide and/or college ruled
- Pencil cases
- Pens, pencils, sharpeners, erasers
- Safety scissors
- Sanitary hand wipes
Sewers, please feel free to make pencil cases and backpacks, especially for the younger kids as they can be easily washed and reused.
Those making Christmas gifts that are labor intensive might want to start their projects now. The Sew For Kids Volunteers Facebook group is already working on our doll project and a few other things that will be shared when we get to October and November. The Wanblee Christmas party is a big deal on the Rez and our group goes all out to make sure it’s special for the kids. This may be the only time a child receives a gift/toy throughout the year. Jerome and Theresa try to make sure each child gets a fun gift or two, warm mittens and hat and a treat bag filled with fruit, nuts and candy. Knitters and crocheters can help with the hats, scarves and mittens which can be started now or in August and September when we’ll begin working on warm items for the winter ahead. Christmas gifts for kids at the shelter is harder to predict as we don’t know how many will be there. We can continue to send comfort bags and small gifts and toys that can be kept on hand and used for the holiday if needed, more on that as the year progresses. Well that should be enough to keep you all busy for the next couple of months, summer is a time for fun so please take time to enjoy it. Another blog will be up soon reporting the latest news from Martin and Wanblee.
Last, but most certainly not least, we want to welcome all the new members that have recently joined us. Each of you brings your own special talent, a kind heart and a wealth of new ideas to share with us as we work together helping the children of Pine Ridge and their families. We look forward to learning new things, sharing ideas and becoming new friends, we’re honored you’ve chosen our group to share with. Thanks to everyone for your continued support and generosity, we have the BEST volunteers!!
Although we’re two months away from the first day of summer, it’s time once again to start our summer clothing project. The kids will finish their school year by the third week of May which is earlier than many of our schools, but they try to beat the summer heat since some schools on the Rez aren’t air conditioned.
Summer is a time for kids to get out and play and have fun with their friends. Sadly a lot of kids don’t have toys or activities to keep them busy so will spend the summer just sitting around. Those that have fallen behind in their classes will be attending summer school for at least one month of their break. Some kids may get the opportunity to attend a week of summer camp, if they have a sponsor, and others may head to the Sun Dances and Pow Wows held in many districts on the Rez. Summer is also the time for volunteer and church groups to arrive and help with various projects, they usually bring activities and fun things for the kids too.
Summer clothing isn’t a high priority, most parents are concerned with providing nice clothing for their kids to start school as they fear judgment by others if they aren’t nicely dressed. Many will keep their children home at the beginning of the school year until they can afford to get them proper clothing. This practice puts kids behind the rest of their class when they finally join them which makes it difficult to keep ahead the rest of the year. Another reason summer clothing isn’t a high priority is parents will need to spend any extra money they have buying food to feed their kids breakfast and lunch, two meals they received at school. Ninety-five percent of the kids at Crazy Horse School in Wanblee depend on the school lunch program. If a child attends summer classes or lives close to their school they can continue to receive these meals, otherwise many kids go without breakfast or another meal during the day. Food stamps and commodity boxes don’t last the entire month so by the end of the third week parents are struggling to feed their children.
If you’re ever wondering what to send for the kids, there are never enough socks, underwear and shoes. Our kids may have multiple pairs of shoes but when you only have one there’s not much left to pass down to your siblings. New socks and underwear are a luxury, you can make it without either, but they sure are nice to have. Many kids will continue wearing their worn out and outgrown shoes from the school year during summer and cut out the toes or heels so they can use them a little longer. Others will just go barefoot, not something we want to encourage as there are rattlesnakes around as well as dirt roads, broken glass, etc.
This year we’ve added the women’s shelter in Martin to our list of places to help so we’ll be sending clothing items to them for their clients as well as to the High Horse’s in Wanblee. The shelter had 13 children from 2 families last week so went through a lot of clothing, many kids arrive with little or what they have is in poor condition. These kids were all older so their stock of clothing in sizes 7 to 14/16 is extremely low and needs replacing. And with the youth center now open in Martin, the larger sizes could also be shared with kids in need who frequent the center. They’ve decided to limit the number of outfits they give to each child at the shelter so that they have something for the next arrivals. Kimmie, the shelter director, says many kids come in barefoot so they could really use Crocs, flip flops, and athletic shoes. Since our toddler drive was so successful for the shelter, they’ve been able to share the bounty with children around the Rez.
Summers are hot and dry in SD so lightweight clothing in lighter colors helps kids stay cool. For some reason the bulk of donations they receive tends to be for girls so keep the boys in mind when shopping or sewing. Some kids on the Rez wear larger sizes for their age due to their diet so watch for husky sizes for boys and plus sizes for girls. Used clothing should be in gently used condition and meet our donation guidelines. Use your own children/grandchildren as a guide, if they would wear it than it’s suitable to send. New shoes or shoes in gently used condition are welcome , wash all shoes and put in a new pair of laces in athletics so they look newer.
Sewers can find plenty of free patterns across the web and if you watch for sales at fabric stores they can be picked up for a dollar. Fabric can be purchased on sale there too or from garage sales and thrift stores. Look for plus size skirts and dresses, they contain a lot of fabric that can be refashioned into kids clothing. We have some wonderful sewers helping us from “Dress A Girl Around the World” for which we are very thankful. In past years they’ve sent beautiful dresses that mothers have raved about and girls have worn to Pow Wows and other special events. They also sew items for the boys.
Summer Clothing Needs infant through 14/16
- Shorts and lightweight pants
- Tops – lightweight T-shirts and shirts, long and short sleeve
- Shoes – athletic type, flip flops, sandals, Crocs, etc.
- Socks and underwear
- Sun hats – most can’t afford sun screen and the summer sun is intense in SD
- Outerwear – sweaters, hoodies, lightweight jackets
- Dresses/skirts – for girls to wear to Pow Wows, etc.
- Swimsuits and towels – Wanblee has the only school with a pool on the Rez and it’s open during summer.
This project will run for the next two months so whatever you can do to help either the shelter or Wanblee or both would be greatly appreciated. If you have any summer toys or activities, the kids would love to have them. Many thanks from SFK for your continuing support and for helping the children of Pine Ridge.
Please send your donations here. Thank you.
Spring hasn’t sprung yet on the Rez, the Easter party “BBQ “on March 27 had to be held inside the Kennedy Hall but the kids and their families made the best of it and still had a fun filled day. The kids did get to have their egg hunt outdoors, but hurried in to get warm after it was over. Warm clothing provided by members of this group made sure the kids who wanted to be warm had something to put on. Hot dogs and fresh veggie cups were served for lunch, purchased by the High Horse’s from Sam’s Club in Rapid City. The Rez is making an effort to serve healthy food as many are overweight and at risk for diabetes, they’re even serving water for drinks. Bob and Mary from the non profit, Families Working Together came for the party and brought 3000 stuffed Easter eggs and many other things with them. Monetary donations from SFK, Pine Ridge Elders, Ravelry group “For the Children of Pine Ridge, and Lakota Friends Circle were used to purchase food and the bikes for the raffle, many donors from these groups also sent Easter baskets and other gift items for the prize table. Here is a note from Jerome High Horse about the party.
“Please thank all sponsors for there support, the weather was good, the vegetable cups were great, all the children enjoyed the event. We couldn’t give everyone an big item, just the lucky one’s whom found papers in there eggs.
We had an sign in sheet, when it got crowded, an the hunt begin, everyone was outside, we lost count. Estimated 200 plus children, parents didn’t sign in.
And the party photos.
NAHA delivered a few pallets of seeds for gardens this summer so as soon as the weather cooperates garden prep can begin. They’ve already had their annual garden lectures from a Native Heritage teaching organization learning about new techniques to use along with their traditional methods. Vegetable gardens help supply families with healthy food during the summer and the winter too if they know preservation methods.
Jerome has been busy delivering food boxes from Running Strong and the food bank in Rapid City to those in need and the “Woodchucks” are still busy cutting and delivering wood to families that need it to heat their homes. Monetary donations to Lakota Friends Circle provides gas money so the High Horse’s and their volunteers can pick up and deliver food and wood. Jerome recently received some saw blades, etc from the Dean family to help keep the saws running.
A big thanks to Cheryl Torres and her son for future donations of sturdy gloves and other supplies her son’s business will be making to help the wood program. The Rez cuts wood all year long but try to do most of it during the warmer months to get a supply built up before winter arrives. Jerome and Theresa made a trip recently to Wisconsin to speak with Families Working Together about plans to build a community center in Wanblee. The Kennedy Hall can’t be used on a daily basis, it’s too expensive to rent and tribal politics interfere with their goals for the center which is to provide a place where families can come and learn new things, kids can have a quiet place to do homework and participate in after school activities, and for distribution of food and clothing to needy families. You can read more about it on Facebook at Families Working Together. Funding this project will be first and foremost, we’re hoping to hear more about this venture in the future.
The last three months have been a busy time for us at SFK and we’ve accomplished a lot. Since January we’ve been stocking the closets at the Sacred Shawl Society’s shelter for babies and toddlers and have managed to fill a lot of their needs. I recently talked to shelter director, Kimmie Clausen, and she said they’ve reorganized their clothing storage system so containers only have one size so they can locate items quicker and not make such a mess trying to find what they need. This also allows them to see the stock they have on hand and what sizes need refilling. Kimmie also shares the extra clothing and other items we’ve donated with the public health nurse who sees new mothers and their babies two weeks after birth for well being checks, immunizations, etc. The shelter recently teamed up with 3 nurses from “Bright Start” an organization that services babies 0-2 years all across the Rez. This group provided training to the staff at the shelter on issues they need to be aware of such as safe sleeping habits to help prevent SIDS, etc and in exchange the shelter provided the nurses with 50 bags filled with things for babies and toddlers they can distribute when making home visits to families. Thanks to your generous donations many moms and kids across Pine Ridge are being helped and there’s still plenty left over to store for shelter needs. Bright Start also gave Kimmie two pack and plays so they can make sure moms are not sleeping with their children while at the shelter. Kimmie said she’s learned a lot from the nurses and has made some needed changes to shelter policy. They’re also working with LOWO, the foster care system on Pine Ridge, which has helped evaluate living conditions in the homes kids will be returning to after leaving the shelter. Children can’t return to abusive situations nor can they live in unsafe homes. It’s extremely difficult to find decent places to house families, there’s a severe housing shortage all across the Rez which makes their job even harder when it comes time to leave. Kimmie says it’s been a huge learning experience for her these past few months and realizes that they need to hook up with other organizations as they can not do it all and because they need these organizations to help their clients when they leave the shelter. She and her staff are attending ongoing training sessions to keep up with all the latest requirements. Word has gotten out about the shelter and the help they’re providing so donations you send to Kimmie are helping women and children across Pine Ridge. Here are some photos of some of the items sent for this drive. Many volunteers sent items but did not post a photo to our Sew For Kids Volunteer site so am sharing what I have to give you an example of items that were sent in. We buy at times as cheaper than making items when there are great sales. We have lots of talent in our group. I am not sharing items that were sent from the Ravelry group ” For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation, the Halfknits or Pine Ridge Elders because I do not have access to those photos. There are a lot of talented and generous ladies in those groups as well.
Kimmie was ecstatic when I last talked to her as she was finally able to find funding for computers for the youth center in Martin after applying and being rejected for the past 4 years. The center is a remodeled double wide mobile home that provides a safe and welcoming place for youth in the community to hang out. They will have some food available for kids that are hungry as well as a place to sleep for a few kids, if needed, until their home situation improves. They’ve asked community members to help oversee the center and work with kids on skills they’ll need to succeed in life. The kids have a full load of activities planned for the summer including working in community gardens and visiting cultural and historical sites, such as Wounded Knee, so they can learn about their culture and what it means to be Lakota. The community wants kids to be proud to be Lakota and know their history. They also want to teach kids some of the traditional Lakota crafts and will need supplies, we’ll let you know of needs when we receive a list. Kimmie has shared clothing you’ve sent with kids in need at the youth center so once again many children are being helped by your generosity.
This past month we helped promote the annual Dr. Seuss “Read Across America” day with Crazy Horse School in Wanblee by sending books and activities for the kids about animals which was this year’s theme. Kids had a lot of fun that day reading about animals and doing lots of animal related crafts but the fun continues with all the new books we sent.
There is no main library or librarian at Crazy Horse due to funding issues so each classroom has their own small library. The principal distributed the books we sent to the appropriate aged classrooms and each month they’ll do a book exchange so classrooms get a “new” library every month. Kids are required to take a book home every night to read, thanks to you they have many more to choose from now. Currently Crazy Horse is looking for grants for a new playground. They want to develop some exercise activities for children and their families to encourage fitness to help keep their weight under control which is a contributing factor to diabetes which is almost epidemic on the Rez. Access to good, healthy food is also another factor as they live in a food desert. They would also like to have some shade and picnic tables at the playground to encourage families to come out. If you would like to help the school with funds for a new playground or vegetable garden you can donate on the Go Fund me site where they’ve set up an account for Crazy Horse School. Other ways to help the school are sending in “box tops” labels for education and metal tabs from soda cans, they can turn either of these in and get needed items for the school. Shoparoo is another organization that gives points to the school for copying your shopping receipts.
A picture is worth a thousand words, please take time to look at some of the other wonderful things this group has sent to PRR the past few months. These were for the Easter party , for older kids at the shelter or Wanblee or for putting away for next year’s party events. We have great shoppers with lots of talents on this group. We’ll soon be starting a two month summer clothing project, details asap!
We want to thank each and every one of you for making each project for the Rez not only possible but such an overwhelming success! We’re so fortunate to have so many talented people in our group that are willing to share their time and talents with those in need. Thank You for making your group Sew For Kids the success that it is!
And if you want to join us you can find us here –Facebook Sew For Kids Volunteer group and the Yahoo group Sew For Lakota Kids. You can post comments or questions on the blog at the top of this page . We would love to here from you , but better still have you join our cause and sew /craft along with us for the kids on Pine Ridge Reservation in SD.
Easter comes early this year, March 27, and the Wanblee party is scheduled for March 19 which is rapidly approaching. Sorry for getting this information out so late but as you know, things move at a different pace on the Rez and we just received the party plans. We agree to help with two parties a year, Christmas and Easter, so we’ll do what we can to make it a special day for the kids. This is a particularly busy time as we’re also helping with the reading project at Crazy Horse School highlighted in the previous blog, and the baby project which we started in January.
So with that in mind, we’ve decided to keep the Easter project simple this year. Other groups that have helped with parties in the past received the same needs list so we won’t be their only resource. The party is a fun time for the kids but also for the entire community as they can finally get out after a long winter and enjoy good company and good food. It’s especially fun for elders as most never had a party nor attended one during their childhood. Jerome was just interviewed by a local reporter for a newspaper article, “What it’s like to be hungry”, he directed the reporter to local families so he could hear firsthand what it’s like to experience hunger on a daily basis.
They expect about 350 people to attend with 150 -200 of those being children, although that number can vary from year to year. Jerome and Theresa plan to serve hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, raw vegetables, cookies, and drinks at an outdoor cookout. If the long term weather forecast is accurate, the day will be between 47- 52 degrees which is warm enough to cook outside. They will need money to purchase the food, donations can be sent to Lakota Friends Circle here. Last year they spent $350 for food so any amount you send will be greatly appreciated. Any food left over is always sent home with needy families.
There will be an Easter egg hunt so they’ll need small trinkets and candy to fill the plastic eggs. Last year they collected as many eggs from the kids as possible so they don’t have to keep buying so many each year. One of our group members sent a lot of eggs to Jerome last year after the party to use for this year. They can always use more so if you have any extras please send them along in your box. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate last year and the egg hunt had to be held in the Kennedy Hall, the kids had fun but it didn’t have the excitement of an outdoor hunt so we’re crossing our fingers the forecast for good weather holds. They will have two egg hunts, one for the kids and one for elders.
Raffles are part of the day and each year they give away 2- 16 inch and 2 -20 inch bikes, one for each gender in each size. If you’d like to help purchase the bikes donations can be made to Lakota Friends Circle here. They could also use Easter baskets with a theme such as kitchen, bath, personal care, etc. to be raffled off for the elders.
Although most of the Easter eggs are filled with candy and trinkets there are some that contain a special “prize” ticket, those receiving one of these lucky eggs heads off to the prize table. They need simple gifts for the prizes such as craft supplies, school supplies, books, trucks, kites, beanies, basketballs, footballs, soccer balls, sand toys, plastic horses, dinosaurs, or other small toys. Prizes for the elders will be whatever they have on hand from things we’ve sent or from the NAHA truck like hats, gloves, toiletries, etc. In addition to these things they would love to have coffee, tea, kitchen and bath items, etc. Not every egg has a special prize ticket but each child will receive a treat bag containing granola bars, fruit, raisins, candy, etc. The more of these treats that are donated the more money Jerome will have to purchase fresh fruit from the local market.
We want the kids and the whole community to have a special day, so whatever you can donate will help make that happen. We are so grateful for your continuing, generous support of the children of Pine Ridge!
Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.