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  Tell us how you want your donation used. Thank you






Emergency Foster Care Needs Our Help.

Recently Barb and the board at Gather Our Children Home decided  to move the foster home to Porcupine after the school there offered them a home of the same size rent free.  Funding anything on the Rez is one of the biggest obstacles organizations face when trying to help their communities and having a building rent free means they have more funds for other needed improvements.  Currently Barb and her Board  are working on meeting all the state requirements, training staff, and getting the building up to code before Child Protection Services makes an inspection in the near future.  Please read our May 8 blog for more details.

Although Barb is thrilled with the new home, she has donated 5 acres of her own land to fulfill her dream of building a larger, permanent foster home that can serve more children and also have an area to teach parenting classes and have family counseling available.  Barb now has a lawyer volunteering to help her with a capital campaign and others are helping with grant writing.  If they are awarded grants the monies may not appear for many months due to all the red tape, especially if they’re from the federal government.  We’ve seen this scenario before, when Sacred Shawl’s women’s shelter first opened they had the federal grant funding but the payments were usually late and they were always operating on a razor thin margin just trying to keep the employees paid and the doors open.  Fortunately they’re on much firmer ground today with salaries, rent, utilities, and food needs being met but they still need our help to provide clothing, toiletries, perishable food, books, warm clothing, blankets, etc. for their clients as there are no funds left for these needs.

The foster home got  help from Friends of Lakota Nation this summer when they built a fence around the home so the children are secure and safe when they go out to play.  Another group is building playground equipment and picnic tables and Running Strong will help get a garden designed so they can begin growing some of their own food.  Other volunteers are planning to build computer desks and shelving in the basement so they can start a library with all the books our groups have been sending. Thanks to members of SFK and For the Children of PRR for sending clothing, socks, shoes, coats, summer toys, school supplies, craft items, diapers, sanitary items, and toiletries.  Other thanks to Patti R for sending a safety gate (they love it!) to Linda B for sending shelving and Carol B and Janet S for the storage containers to hold all the clothing and shoes.  Thanks to Debra M and Brenda B for making curtains and sending rods for the new home.  Many sent sheets, towels, office supplies, cloth bags and so many other wonderful things.  Thank you everyone for being so generous!!

Although the foster home is getting so much more help now than just a few months ago they still need our help.  Temperatures are already in the high eighties and in order to have air conditioning they will have to move the central air conditioning unit from the old home in Oglala to Porcupine.  They also need to install the security system, we saved $250 from the freezer fundraiser we did a few months ago which will help but won’t cover the entire cost.  We would also like to help them replace their worn out sofa and chairs for the living room and purchase a dresser for each of the three bedrooms.

We have set a fundraising goal of $1500 to help cover some of these needs.  No donation is too small and if we all chip in a little we’ll reach our goal in no time.  Joyce W has started us off by donating $100, thank you Joyce for your generosity!  Please help the foster home provide a safe and comfortable place for abused and neglected children that have nowhere else to go.  Barb and her staff provide these kids with a safe, loving and nurturing environment while in their care.

Donations can be made to Lakota Friends Circle here or if you prefer to send a check using the address listed on that site.   Thank you for helping the kids!


Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.


June Projects

Summer will officially start next week but SFK members have been busy for the past two months sewing or buying dresses, shorts, tops, skirts, swim suits, sun hats and bags to get kids ready for their summer vacation.  If you’re still in the middle of a sewing project don’t worry, kids will continue to need summer clothing when school begins the 3rd week of August or later and until cooler weather takes over sometime in mid October.  Shoes are always a need too, all sizes for all seasons as kids outgrow them so quickly.  For those wishing to work ahead on other projects don’t forget to check our 2019 Monthly Project post.

With garage sales in full swing and thrift stores running clearance sales most of the things on our June project list can be found pretty reasonable.  Shop your own closets or ask family members if they have something to donate, keeping in mind our  donation guidelines.   If you’re traveling this summer don’t forget to save the hotel toiletries for Kimmie to add to the comfort bags she makes for women undergoing exams after sexual abuse.

June  “Bags, Sheets, Towels and a Contest”

  1. School bags/backpacks – Sew/purchase drawstring or other style backpack and pencil cases for school.  Please Send to Emergency Foster Home, Kimmie at the CDC in Martin and Marty Indian School.  We’ll begin purchasing school supplies next month when sales begin and send them later in the year when really needed as most schools do have supplies to start the new year.  We also like to send extra school supplies so teachers can give students supplies to use at home.
  2. Activity Bags – Make or purchase a tote bag, add a book, stuffed animal, coloring book and crayons, journal and pen, drawing pad and colored pencils, etc.  Please send to Kimmie at the CDC office in Martin for children at the shelter and youth center and to the Emergency Foster Home.
  3. Cloth/Tote Bags all sizes – The women’s shelter has an ongoing need for cloth bags, pillowcase size, for clients to use when leaving the shelter, comfort bags for women in crisis and those using the services at the CDC office in Martin.  Diaper bags are needed for all areas except Marty School and Wanblee.  Small drawstring bags are always needed for toiletries and personal care items for clients at the shelter or CDC office.  Regular tote size bags can be used for groceries, swim bags for the pool, books, personal items, etc.
  4. Sheets and Towels – Sheets are always needed at the shelter and foster home, new or gently used in sizes twin, full and queen.  The Rosebud baby program needs sheets for cribs, standard size, and pack ‘n play’s 37.5″L x 25.5″W.  The shelter and Foster Home can always use towels and washcloths and never seem to have enough.  Many clients will take towels with them when leaving the shelter so they constantly need replacing.  Towels can be new or gently used.
  5. Sewing Contest – Make a Christmas gift for a child using scraps from your stash.  Members from Sew For Kids will vote on their favorite project, with a special prize for the winner (to be announced).

We encourage members to start thinking about making Christmas gifts during the summer especially if they’re labor intensive such as quilts or dolls. Having a few gifts finished before fall arrives relieves some of the pressure we all feel trying to fit too many projects into a short amount of time.  This year we’re encouraging you to use scrap fabric, trims, yarn, etc. that are already in your stash to make a gift, scrap projects are certainly economical but they also force us to use our creative talents and the results are usually stunning.  Some ideas – hats, mittens, baby/child sweaters, quilts, stuffed animals, themed bags such as art, tool set, make-up, sewing, first aid kit, etc, games, or anything else your creative minds come up with.  Have fun with the contest and we’ll share all your creative ideas, pictures of your projects, and the winner of course, in an upcoming blog.

Thanks from Sew For Kids, we wish you a safe and happy summer filled with fun, family and friends!


Building Libraries Across the Rez , One Book at a Time



When we were growing up the library was a major part of our young lives, we made our weekly visit exchanging the books we had read  for the next volume of “Nancy Drew” or the “Hardy Boys” or one of the great classic adventure novels.  Technology didn’t exist so books and playing sports with friends was our major form of entertainment over the summer.  Parents encouraged children to read by taking them to the library where everyone would choose books to read for the coming week which began their children’s lifelong love of books.

Although times have changed and technology is everywhere kids on the Rez would still love to have the same access to books as we did growing up.  Unfortunately many school districts have eliminated their libraries and books are only available in individual classrooms thanks to the teachers that knew the value of books and built their own libraries with donations from organizations such as ours and using their own funds.  So for most kids their access to books ends when the school year ends.  The few libraries that do exist on the Rez are out of reach for most kids as they would need transportation to get there to check out a book and then find a way to return it.  In the past there have been summer reading programs with some libraries visiting areas across the Rez where they read to kids and let them choose a book to start their own library.

Most parents are in survival mode struggling to keep food on the table with school out as their children are no longer getting two meals a day provided by the school system.  Some kids attend summer school to work on their skills or finish incomplete classes and some go because it serves as a daycare for working parents and they know they will get something to eat.  Some churches and other organizations visit during the summer bringing books, crafts and activities for the kids.  Many kids on the Rez are 2 or more years behind in their reading skills mainly due to a lack of books and volunteers to read to them and help build their skills.  We believe once kids get bitten by the reading bug they will continue to read and seek out books on their own which is why we want to make them more readily available.

SFK and partner groups like For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation are gradually building libraries in the areas we serve.  SFK member Laurie A, a librarian herself, set up one of our first libraries at the My Space Youth Center in the summer of 2016.  Books and magazines are continually being added by our members keeping the library updated with new reading material for the kids.  Director Kimmie Clausen requires kids to spend time reading and finishing homework before playing games or other activities during the school year.  When she can get away from her office at the CDC Kimmie walks over to the center and reads to the younger children and discusses books the older kids have read.  One of Kimmie’s missions is to get every child reading, she gives them each a book for Christmas, made possible by your donations, and they’re holding a reading program this summer to encourage kids to keep reading so they don’t lose the skills they learned in school.  Summer slide”  is  the tendency for students to lose some academic gains made over the previous school year. It’s not just a theory; kids most at risk can fall two years behind in their reading level by fifth grade, according to the nonprofit Children’s Literacy Initiative.

The Sacred Shawl shelter has an adult and children’s library made possible by the generosity of supporters.  Kimmie encourages women to read to their kids and explains to them why it is so important for their development.  When leaving the shelter children can take a book or two home with them, some of them get attached to a particular story or character.  Reading is great therapy for women trying to forget about the abuses they’ve suffered and can help soothe their soul.  Women using the services at the CDC office are also given books for their children and are encouraged to read to them every day.

Generous members supplied the Martin and Allen Head Start classes with blankets and books this spring and there were so many that kids were able to choose a few books to take home with them to read over the summer.  We will be continuing our support of the Head Start classes this fall and have been asked to help the Wanblee Head Start as well.  Kimmie’s sister works at Oglala Lakota college and says this program was very well received and they’re thrilled it will continue next year.  The Head Start program on the Rez was experiencing a rapid decline under tribal authority but is now under the direction of Oglala Lakota College where it’s becoming a vital program once again.  They can use our help to keep the momentum going!

The Emergency Foster Care Home now has books to read to the kids thanks to donations that have come in from our groups.  They’re hoping to set up a library in the basement and already have a volunteer from Colorado that offered to build shelving and a computer area.  Children can choose books to take with them when leaving the shelter.

Bright Start nurse Mary Mousseau was delighted when our groups began sending books for her babies.  Books aren’t a necessity and not easy to come by if you live in a rural area so are seen as a luxury item.  She encourages her clients to begin reading to their babies right after birth and to continue on a daily basis.  We will begin sending books to our newest service area RST Maternal and Child Health program on the Rosebud Reservation.

We helped supply books for the library in the Wanblee Community Center initially set up by a group of college students.  We sent many books and magazines to the Wanblee Elder Center and over the years have sent countless gardening books, cook books, sewing and quilting books, how to books on every subject imaginable to the Wanblee area.

And finally we have sent many, many books to teachers at Marty Indian School for their classrooms and for the Feather Store.  School is now out for the summer but thankfully the majority of students plan to attend the Boys and Girls Club where there’s a planned reading program so kids don’t lose any progress they’ve made.    Students tested low on their reading skills at the beginning of the 2018/19 school year, extra tutoring sessions were set up to boost their levels so hopefully that helped.

And the group For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation are helping the Rosebud Elementary school acquire books thru their wonderful book donations.

Books (and magazines) are always needed in all areas we serve for all ages infant through adult.  Ask friends co-workers, churches, clubs and other organizations to help you collect books for the Rez, more ideas here  Shop resale shops and garage sales, many times at the end of a sale people are more than willing to give you the books they have left especially if they know they’re for kids that don’t have any.

Please send books about Lakota stories, crafts, sewing, science, baby board books, teen books, picture books for the younger kids, reference books, dictionaries, gardening, senior care, parenting, sports, first aid, cook books, novels for all ages.  Magazines about all the above subject matter, “Highlights”, “Ranger Rick” and similar magazines for kids.  We don’t send any religious materials, bibles, etc. unless the areas we serve make a specific request. Books can be sent here.   All areas can accept items now as they have storage. And all areas can take items that are seasonal if you need to send before that time to make room in your house! We have very generous donors!!

Thank you for helping build libraries across the Rez!

Sew For Kids


Rez News and Needs for Summer

Sacred Shawl Society’s Women’s Shelter

Kimmie Clausen, shelter and youth center director, says they’ve had 56 children and their mothers at the shelter over the past 4 months, it’s been hectic to say the least.  As a result their clothing stock has been severely depleted and they’re in need of children’s clothing in all sizes, infant through 14/16, but especially smaller sizes as most of the children they serve are younger.  Food kits sent by the group “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” are helping teach women at the shelter how to cook a new dish for their families. The kits contain a recipe, ingredients, and the utensils they need, some members in the group have even donated cookware so women have pots and pans to cook in when they return home.  Kimmie is so grateful for their help and says the kits are helping stretch their $600 monthly food budget.  Kudos to this group for coming up with such a great idea, thanks ladies!      

Kimmie remembers quite well learning the ropes a few years ago as a new shelter director, coping with the bureaucracy of federal programs and learning to write grants so she is going to mentor Barb Dull Knife, director of the foster home.  Kimmie wishes the tribal council was more supportive of women’s issues as Barb wishes they paid more attention to children but despite the lack of tribal support, both women saw a need in their communities and were willing to step up and take on the challenge knowing there were probably many headaches and sleepless nights ahead.  They did it because they cared and knew someone had to advocate for the women and children.  We applaud both of these honorable women for their strength, courage and dedication to the abused and neglected women and children in their care and we all feel honored to be able to help them.  Please send donations for the shelter here.

My Space Youth Center

Is bursting at the seams, up to 70 kids use the center every day!  During the school year the center is open weekdays from 4 to 10 pm and 12 to 10 pm on weekends with summer hours extended to most of the day.  Kimmie has an associate director for the youth center and 2 volunteers that will be working with kids on summer programs and teaching reading skills, crafts, etc.  Kids come to the center to get a snack, finish homework, read, play games, use the computers or just hang out with friends.  Some kids don’t want to go home at closing time due to their home situations but there is no money in the budget to pay an overnight staff to supervise them.  Kimmie’s monthly food budget for the center is $400 which doesn’t go very far when you’re feeding 70 kids a day.  Lakota Friends Circle, through your generous donations, provides $100 a month for the purchase of milk, bread and other perishables from the local grocery in Martin which is shared with the shelter.  Food kits sent by For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation are also being used at the youth center and hopefully, items from the summer garden can be added to some of the items sent to make them even more nutritious. We would love to send more food to help feed all the hungry kids this summer but this is all we can do for now.  If you would like to help provide food for the kids please make a donation at Lakota Friends Circle.

Kimmie also receives $1000 quarterly from the district’s allotment from casino earnings which are used for children’s programs including providing swim passes to the local pool.  Special programs are funded by grants and this year she was awarded one from National Geographic which will be used to take kids to cultural sites on the reservation.  They can only take 17 kids on the trip and they will be chosen by the number of stars they received for good behavior at the youth center.  Kids will have to read (Kimmie’s making booklets) about the history of the cultural sites before their visit and later in the summer they’ll be making some traditional crafts.  Kimmie will be leading a separate cultural tour, made possible by a grant from NOVA, for the girls participating in their Isnati or coming of age ceremony this summer.  Members of “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” are making toiletry and make up bags for the girls to use during their 4 day ceremony.  Thank you again ladies!!

The youth center plans to have a garden again which Kimmie hopes will provide plenty of healthy veggies that will stretch their meager food budget and teach kids about growing and preserving their own food.  Planting will begin soon and she sends a big thank you to all who donated seeds.  Kimmie says the kids that get swim passes will probably be at the pool most of the day because they absolutely love the water!  Some of our members have sent bathing suits, thanks to Donna S and everyone that has sent swim suits and gear.  They can still use towels (new or gently used), goggles, swim fins, bathing caps, and reusable water bottles, sun hats and sunscreen for those working in the garden.  Please send donations for the Youth Center here.

Martin Head Start

The kids in the Head Start program in Martin and Allen were thrilled with the colorful blankets and cuddly stuffed animals they received from our groups and the kids from the local schools really appreciated all the warm coats, hats and mittens given out by Kimmie from your generous donations.  The Head Start kids will definitely be taking their blankets and stuffies home with them when the school year ends so blanket makers can start planning for the new classes coming in.  The kids loved all the books that came in, they (and their teachers) were getting pretty bored reading the same books over and over.  Some of the kids really got attached to some of the stories and characters in the books and want to take them home for the summer.  Books for kids are always appreciated at all our donation areas so be on the lookout for them this summer at your area garage sales.  Please send donations for Head Start to Kimmie here.

Wild Horse Butte CDC

In addition to director of the Sacred Shawl Society and My Space Youth Center, Kimmie Clausen is also Executive Director of Wild Horse Butte CDC, a non-profit serving the LaCreek district  community.   This is where women come for help with diapers, formula and clothing for their babies, especially toward the end of the month when they’ve run out of supplies.  Lakota Friends Circle, through your generous donations, sends diapers every month for these babies but this month we were able to send 30 containers of formula that we found at a really good price. Your cloth diapers and wipes are also given out here along with instructions on how to use and care for them.  We’re slowly building up the cloth diaper program and they could use more plastic pants and diaper pins if you have them.  Please send donations here.

Gather Our Children Home 

The Foster Home moved to their new location in Porcupine, SD last week.  They could no longer afford to pay the rent, insurance, etc. the Loneman School District was asking for.  Their new location, although the same size as Oglala, will be rent free which will certainly help with their tight budget.  They will still have to buy insurance and pay utilities, which can add up as their appliances are electric, but they do receive help from a non-profit for that.  The new home uses propane for heat as the old location did and if you remember we helped them through a heating crisis this past winter as the tank was close to empty and they were completely out of funds.  A generous donor gave $300 for propane so they have something to start with, it snowed last week so they still need to have the heat on.  The flood waters are gone for the most part but the mud it left behind is making travel nearly impossible in some areas, 4 wheel drives are even getting mired down in the mud.  They will need air conditioning soon but will have to find some extra funds to move the air conditioner to the new home.  New or gently used furniture is also on the wish list, they’ve had over 200 kids at the home in the past 2 years so the furniture is looking pretty shabby.  They also need curtains for the windows, we’re waiting for measurements so we can start shopping for them.  The new freezer we purchased for them has been moved to the new location and will be upstairs instead of the basement.

Employee salaries are covered by True Sioux Hope Foundation, most of the clothing, shoes, snacks, toys, etc. are donated by groups such as ours.  They’ve been doing a lot of in house staff training and reviewing policies with all their workers so they can apply for government grants.  They recently added a board member who is a child protection specialist for their expertise and guidance.  Two groups from Colorado are going to build a new playground and fence the property so kids have a safe place to play, they will also finish the basement which will be used for a library and maybe they can get a computer and TV for the older kids so they have a quiet place to go to escape from the younger kids.  They will need a security system installed as soon as possible, which we have money set aside for, so workers can monitor the children and Barb can monitor the entire foster home from her own home.  Thanks to Linda B. for purchasing the storage shelves, others donated storage bins to store clothing, shoes, etc.  We had some extra cash donations this month so were able to send diapers and formula, we’re hoping to do that on a monthly basis if funds are available.  The home needs summer clothing in all sizes and shoes, sun hats, etc. which is our current monthly project.  Please send your donations here.

Bright Start

Mary Mousseau wanted us to extend a huge thanks to all of you for the beautiful baby items our groups have sent.  We’ve been able to add size 3 and 4 diapers to her monthly shipment because of all your generous donations.  Babies grow so fast in their first year, they should double their birth weight at 5 months and triple it by their first birthday.  Mary sees her clients on a weekly basis for the first month after birth and twice a month thereafter until babies reach their third birthday.  She loves giving out all the books, softies and toys you’ve been sending and the mom’s love them too!  Donation address here.

Rosebud Sioux Tribe Maternal and Child Health

Sandi Wilcox, the nurse at RST Maternal and Child Health, mainly sees high risk patients and their babies are enrolled in the program until their second birthday.  Sandi is so grateful for all the baby clothing and supplies and says she now has something to offer her clients.  This past month we had some extra money so were able to send size 3 and 4 diapers to her, we would love to continue on a regular basis but will have to build our monthly donor base for that to happen.  If you would like to help us supply diapers to Sandi please make a donation to Lakota Friends Circle here.  RST is one of our newest donation areas, for more information about their program please read this previous blog.  Donation address for this program is here.

List of Baby Needs

  • Clothing – Onesies, sleepers, sleep sacks, sweaters, shirts and pants/shorts, sun hats and diaper covers all lighter weight for summer.  Most newborns wear 0-3 months but Rosebud’s program also needs NB and preemie since they serve high risk clients.  Sizes for all areas needed up to 3T
  • Socks/booties and hats – Summer weight.
  • Blankets – lighter blankets, quilts and receiving blankets
  • Towels – Regular bath towels and washcloths, hooded towels and smaller/softer baby wash cloths especially desirable.
  • Burp Cloths/Bibs –  Both home sewn and ready made.  Good projects to whittle down your stash.
  • Toys – Including small stuffed animals (baby safe – no buttons, strings, loose trims, etc.), teethers, baby books.  Other toys up to 2-3 years.
  • Sheets – to fit Pack and Play’s, they only receive one sheet with the unit.
  • Diaper Bags – traditional style, tote bags and back packs for younger moms.
  • Toiletries for Baby – Including baby wash, cotton swabs, diaper cream, thermometers, baby nail clippers, pacifiers.
  • Toiletries and bags for Mothers – Shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, body wash, sanitary pads/tampons. Small items such as nail polish, hair ties, hair brush, etc. would make a mom feel special.  Simple draw string bag to hold everything.
  • Disposable diapers and Wipes –  Diapers in sizes 3-4 most needed.
  • Cloth Diapers – Cloth diapers any style, plastic plants, diaper pins and clothes pins for line drying.

Anything on the above list can be sent to Sacred Shawl Women’s Shelter, Wild Horse Butte CDC, Bright Start, or Rosebud Sioux Tribe Maternal and Child Health, addresses are here.

Marty Indian School

May 17 will be the last day of school for students at Marty Indian School.  Fifty of the seventy elementary students will attend the Boys and Girls Club until the end of June.  They will receive lunch and participate in lots of fun games and activities and work on their reading skills.  The schedule for the last week of school is Monday – kindergarten graduation at 10:00 am, Tuesday – Field Day, Wednesday – Awards Day, Thursday – Senior’s Feather Ceremony, and Friday – Graduation.  Each of the classes are having their class trips this week.

Principal Jolene Arrow and Paulita Drapeau, a teaching assistant jack of all trades got the Feather Store ready for the grand finale sale for both parents and students the last week of April.  Thanks to everyone for making all this possible through your many, generous donations throughout the school year.  A very special thanks to all room parents that sponsor a class throughout the year sending school supplies, books, Christmas and birthday gifts, snacks, clothing, coats, etc.  Your sponsorship does make a difference, test scores are improving and kids are thrilled to have “room moms”!

Wanblee Community

Food and some wood deliveries continue in Wanblee.  Summer will be here before you know it and volunteers will begin to arrive to work on community projects such as painting, yard work and rehab work on homes.  Kids are attending cooking and sewing classes sponsored by Families Working Together at the community center.  They had a wonderful Easter party at the High Horses, Peyton Manning from the Denver Broncos provided 400 buckets filled with candy and gifts with raffle prizes coming from NAHA trucks or gift items left over from Christmas gifts our groups sent.  It was a beautiful 70 degree day and everyone had a great time.

Summer will be extra special on the Rez this year after the brutal winter and terrible flooding they had to endure this spring.  So many of you donated extra time making warm blankets, shopping for warm clothing and sending money to fill the propane tank at the foster home when the gauge was nearing empty.  You were so generous that we also purchased a new freezer for them and put money back for a new security system to be installed at their new location.  It would take 10 blogs to list all the things you do, we can never thank you enough!

Sew For Kids