Summer Clothing Project

May 16, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The 2015 school year will be coming to a close this month which means kids can enjoy sleeping in, playing with friends, and taking a break from homework…….it also means they will need summer clothing and shoes.  Buying summer clothes isn’t something most parents on the Rez think about as they don’t have the finances and since they’re not in school they feel their kids won’t be judged by what they’re wearing.  SFK wants to make sure the kids have some play clothes and maybe a nice outfit to wear for a special outing such as the Pow Wow held during the summer.

Kids on the Rez like to do many of the same things our kids do but often don’t have the  equipment for sports activities.  They love to play baseball/softball, basketball, soccer and other sports which keeps them active and helps with weight control which hopefully leads to avoiding or at least delaying the onset of diabetes so prevalent in the Native American population.  The kids in Wanblee are very fortunate to have the only swimming pool on the Rez so spend time there having fun and cooling off from the hot summer days.  Some kids go camping with their families or attend day camps where they learn about horse and other animal care, if they have the money and transportation to get there.  Older kids may hunt and fish with a family member, most kids like to hike and explore and learn about nature.  They may attend a summer program that teaches kids survival skills passed down from their ancestors.  They look forward to movie nights held outside at the High Horse’s during warm weather so videos and popcorn are welcome .

Kids love to ride their bikes, if they have one, and there’s a bike safety weekend being planned sometime this summer.  They also love to ride horses, in fact this summer they’re planning to take a group of kids on a 4 day ride to Rosebud Reservation camping along the way which will be a great experience for them and something to look forward to.  Evenings in front of a campfire will be a great opportunity for storytelling and learning about their culture and traditions.  Many participate in crafts and other activities with volunteer groups visiting the Rez that come to help with home repairs and other projects in the area.   We’re hoping some of the volunteers are skilled at knitting or crocheting or other needle arts and can help the kids learn a new skill.  Kids love to read and play board games and books can be checked out from the school library when they’re open.  Some kids will have to attend summer school so they can complete their studies and move to the next grade.  Especially important for the kids is the breakfast and lunch they receive there which helps families struggling to feed their children during the summer.

We were going to share summer patterns and ideas with you but decided against it since the group of sewers, crafters and shoppers we have on our Sew For Kids Volunteer group on Facebook doesn’t need any help, in fact they’re teaching and helping us!  To say these ladies are amazing is an understatement, come on over, join us and see for yourself.  They know where the best sales are, where the greatest patterns are, how to make dresses from old shirts, and how to combine fabrics and use trims on clothing that would make any child feel special wearing it.  We have some that are expert “couponers”, thrift store and garage sale shoppers and others that routinely “pick” their friends and families closets looking for donations.

Jerome and Theresa always comment on the quality of goods that come from our group and we’re so thankful everyone follows the donation guidelines.  Word has gotten out around Wanblee about all the pretty dresses and skirts that are made and sent to the High Horse’s and the girls have told them to please let them know if another shipment comes in.  We’ve always striven to send good clothing, outerwear, etc. to the Rez but really didn’t focus a lot on “dress up” clothes until Carol B. J. approached SFK about sending dresses from Dress A Girl Around The World.  They had sent dresses to another part of the Rez but didn’t receive any feedback and were still looking for a place to send to.  Well to make a long story short, the Wanblee girls loved them…..really loved them and eagerly wait for the next shipment to arrive.  Not only have the dresses given the girls something to look forward to but they’ve given SFK some more wonderful volunteers that have, quite frankly, changed our group because of their sewing skills and generous hearts.

Many times the Rez receives donations from large groups or from the trucks that contain clothing that’s soiled (gross!), outdated, torn, with broken zippers and missing buttons, or just inappropriate for their lifestyle.  Families don’t have the skill or resources needed to make the clothing wearable and volunteers don’t have the time or facilities to wash dirty clothing.  Doing laundry on the Rez is always difficult, very few have a washer and Jerome and Theresa have gone through 4 already because they allow anyone in the community the use of theirs if they ask.  Theresa has told me, on more than one occasion, how disheartening it is to receive someone’s dirty laundry as a donation.  People on reservations across the US are already beat down and live a hard life, sending dirty or broken items only reinforces the feeling that they’re seen as second class citizens despite being the first people in this country!  Jerome and Theresa and SFK certainly don’t want to give dirty or inferior clothing to kids who already feel they’re worthless and have no future, living in an area with a high suicide rate makes it even worse.  Their kids are like our kids, they may be poor but they have the same feelings, the same likes and dislikes and want the same fashions they see on TV or when they venture off the Rez.  The saying “clothes makes the man”  does have some merit as looking good on the outside helps you feel good on the inside.  If donations are clean but not suitable to wear they can always be recycled into blankets for the family and zippers and buttons can be saved for repairs or a new garment.  One of the ladies is using old clothing to make rag rugs for people to put on their cold floors.  Being poor takes up a lot of your time as you’re constantly looking for resources to survive.  Enough said but we wanted to tell you why we appreciate all the time and energy you spend making these kids feel special!

We know from the Volunteers Facebook group many of you have been busy sewing or shopping since the Easter party but for those not on the group we’re repeating the needs list again.  The following needed for boys and girls, babies through teens.

Shorts and lightweight pants

Tops – T-shirts and shirts, summer weight, long and short sleeves

Shoes – athletic type for running and sports, flip flops, sandals, 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

For Girls – dresses and/or skirts to dress up for Pow Wow events

Swimsuits and towels

Always welcome for the kids…..basketballs, softballs, bats, soccer balls and other sports/outdoor game equipment, videos, books, craft kits or crafting supplies, art supplies, any summer related activities. Items can be sent here.

We’ll be sharing photos of completed projects and purchased donations at the end of the month, so please send them in or post on our flickr site.  We couldn’t do this without you, we have THE BEST volunteers!

April Wanblee News

April 17, 2015 at 10:59 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We were hoping to have the blog up a week after the party but  seems something always delay sour plans, this time we were waiting for a party report and pictures from Anne Fields, Director of Lakota Friends Circle (LFC), who made the long trip from her home in Georgia to Wanblee to help with the Easter party.  Her return trip home took a lot longer than usual due to all the spring storms thankfully she arrived home safe and sound.  Janet has been on vacation for two weeks and I’ve had a steady stream of company visiting so enough with the excuses let’s get to the news.

The party was a great success and everyone had fun adults included. There were over 150 kids  aged 4-12 which is less than last year but there were lots of teens, parents and elders which brought the total attendance to over 300.  The weather cooperated for once and they held the barbecue outside serving hot dogs and hamburgers with all the trimmings, fresh veggie cups for the children and watermelon for everyone.   Thanks to all your generous donations there were enough funds to purchase fresh fruit and nuts for the kid’s treat bags.  NAHA sent a pallet of candy and although we had discussed with the High Horse’s about offering healthy alternatives, the volunteers helping with the party thought it should be given out to the kids.  It will take a while to change that mindset, they feel their kids don’t get the treats our kids do so when candy comes in they feel they should give it out.  About half of the population on the Rez has diabetes (they have a genetic predisposition) and tooth decay and poor nutrition are constant issues with kids so candy isn’t really what they need but like all kids if they see it they want it.

The Easter egg hunt was held inside so they could better manage the different age groups participating, 4-6 went first with 7-9  following and then finishing with 10-12.   We outdid ourselves in the gift category, there were fewer kids than expected so everyone got one of the cloth bags you made stuffed with more than the usual amount of goodies.  NAHA came a few days before the party and their volunteers sorted items according to age and gender and then made up the gift bags with other locals pitching in.  It was a busy week for the High Horses and their friends, not only did they have to prepare for the party and unload the NAHA truck, but they also had to drive to the village of Pine Ridge to pick up food packages for families donated by Running Strong, deliver them, then head to Rapid City to get food for the party.  Keep in mind Pine Ridge is over 90 miles each way from Wanblee and Rapid City is over 100 not including all the added time and miles it took to deliver all the food packages.   Thanks again to everyone who donated money for the food expenses and others who spent countless hours making or buying all the gifts for the party.  We’ve heard over and over again everything sent by our group is of the best quality and beautifully crafted.  We’re so lucky and grateful that our group cares to send the very best, thank you everyone!

A load of 35 afghans came in before the party donated by Halfknits, a volunteer crochet group from Dallas, TX, which were promptly delivered to White River nursing home in White River, SD where personnel gladly accepted them for their patients as they were in need of more blankets.  I would not be surprised if they also took over some washcloths and soap that this group made. At present they’re trying to find funding to keep the doors open as they provide care for 40-45 seniors.  They probably have many more needs and if we receive more information will post the list for you.

Recently Jerome connected with the Yellow Bike Project in Rapid City. This non-profit’s  mission is to provide bicycles, tricycles, scooters, wagons, and exercise equipment to recipients throughout the Black Hills.  The High Horses took a group of adolescents and adults to their workshop and repaired 18 bikes.  Those bikes the kids fixed for themselves became theirs and the other 8 were given out at the party raffle. They had a great experience and will go again soon so more kids can “earn a bike”.  One of the volunteers coming out this year from Youthworks is going to run a bicycle clinic teaching kids how to do basic repairs such as fixing flat tires and run a bicycle obstacle course teaching kids how to ride safely.

Jerome and Theresa’s friends Bob and Mary, who run the non profit Families Working Together, discussed building a community center to be used for activities for kids and their families.  This non profit owns a plot of land in Wanblee so finding a location isn’t  a problem.  Due to the high cost of materials they’ve had to downsize their current building plans and will build in stages so they can get started as soon as possible. They’re currently trying to get a donation for a pole barn.  Both Jerome and Bob, who owns his own construction company, have building skills so along with some of his work crew and local Rez volunteers they plan to build part of it this summer if they get enough donations for supplies. The Kennedy Hall is a great building but has too many issues, one being a $50 fee (which comes out of Jerome and Theresa’s pocket) each time the building is used, even for a few hours to process NAHA deliveries for the community.   Since the Kennedy Hall is the current community building any pre-planned event will be canceled if someone needs the building for a funeral, etc.

4+Mary+Theresa+Bob

Bob and Mary from Families Working Together and Theresa High Horse

The new proposed center could be used for many activities including education.  Children in the area have three schools they can attend…Crazy Horse in Wanblee, Kadoka (off the Rez) and Little Wound in Kyle.  The Kadoka school district had previously tutored students attending their school in Wanblee but the space they used no longer exists. They’ve offered to resume tutoring if a suitable place can be found which could be provided by the new building.  Some kids may not need tutoring but do need a quiet place to study, something that’s hard to find in a small 3 bedroom home housing up to 20 people.  Many students in the outlying areas may not have electricity for various reasons so they work by candlelight or if lucky by a solar lantern.  Families Working Together has found computers for the center once it becomes a reality. They also want to have a soup kitchen so that any child who won’t be fed at night will be able to come and have a meal before heading home. There are still many issues to be worked out….how the center will be run, who’ll be in charge, ownership of the building, maintenance and operating costs, etc. so it’s not a done deal.  Having rooms to teach sewing, cooking, and  gardening, etc. and a place for community services would be wonderful as well.  We’ll keep you posted as we see how this project unfolds.  Families Working Together also plans to fix up a trailer and an older home, both in need of repair and in the future Jerome plans to add some beds to the storage trailer which will provide housing for volunteers from out of town, visiting the Rez and working on a project .

Crazy Horse school, according to Anne Fields from LFC, is advertising in the Lakota Times for many positions for next year. There are currently 260 students from K thru 12 attending. The middle/high school principal and several of the teachers are leaving as are some of the auxiliary staff, time will tell if all positions get filled.  Many of the positions are filled by Teach for America, they come to the Rez with good intentions but working with kids from dysfunctional families, (a challenge off the Rez as well), lack of teaching supplies and living in an isolated area with nothing to do is too much for many to handle and they leave after the first year, some have even left in the middle of the school year.

There are gardening courses being held at the college through Cooperative Extension. Thirty-five people attended the last meeting and if they attend all meetings they will get their garden plot tilled, seeds to plant and help with any gardening issues.  The lady teaching the gardening class also found funding to provide food for the Crazy Horse after school program.   NAHA recently sent several pallets of garden seeds to Wanblee which were given out at the Easter party so there should be enough seeds for everyone that wants to grow a garden this summer.  The land is dry and hard in Wanblee as there hasn’t been a lot of precipitation this year so tilling isn’t an easy job.  Jerome tilled the community garden on his lot and said it was tough going, so he has to get some organic matter worked into the soil.  I told him to get those chickens he wants and put them to work on loosening and fertilizing the soil, killing two birds with one stone as the chickens would produce eggs to sell locally.  The chicken coop is built, water containers and incubators have been donated and the ranchers have offered some chickens to get them started. The High Horses will soon plant some of the cold weather veggies if they can get the soil amended. Horse manure takes 6 months to break down so that will have to wait until fall, I suggested growing some cover crops in the fall to till in the following spring for green manure.

Running Strong has tractors to till the land but they won’t come to Wanblee unless gas is provided so the Wanblee folks are happy to have this new resource available to help them. Speaking of gardening, Theresa’s daughter who serves lunch at Wolfe Creek school says they are serving salads at the school now in addition to their main meal and the kids love them and often come back for seconds.  Here’s hoping the kids will see the connection between growing the lettuce (easy crop to grow) and the salad. One of the problems growers on the Rez deal with is the wild dogs and other animals who can tear up a garden as well as the hailstorms that seem to happen every year just as they get their crops growing.

Jerome and the Woodchucks have plenty of wood collected from local ranches but it still needs to be cut up for next winter.  Many of the men have found work for now at seasonal, paying jobs but most will be unemployed once again when winter weather sets in so will be able to help when it really matters.  Wood is still needed for heating and being given out as spring weather on the Rez can be unpredictable.  The winter warmth program sponsored by Hearts of the Sacred Spirit( the non profit that SFK is under)  ended for this year on March 31st, they helped people in many parts of the Rez with funds for propane and electric.  Always needed for the Woodchucks and other workers are steel toed boots in men’s sizes 12-13 so if you see any on sale or at garage sales or have an extra pair sitting around, they would love them.  Men go out to work in running shoes which offers no protection to those who work with heavy equipment or from the cold weather. Of course warm gloves, hats, and coats are always a need as theirs get worn out quickly (if they have them) from all the heavy work they do.

The sewing circle has had trouble lately getting together at the Kennedy Hall, there always seems to be some reason they can’t use the hall and the usual politics get in the way too.  Ladies are sewing on projects at home using the donated machines, most are sewing pillows and blankets for their families.  We’ll post a list of needs in the near future.  Bingo has had the same issues of using the hall so is not being held now as often as they’d like.  Originally Bingo was set up for the elders but many younger folks are showing up and demanding it be played at a faster pace.  We’ll  have to see if they can work out separate times for different age groups

During our recent conversation Anne told me about the local ambulance and firefighting departments in Wanblee, she also took pictures of buildings around town because she wanted you all to see what the community looks like and what if has to offer the people that live there.  The ambulance service is really a barebones operation now, the tribe runs it but since they’re in debt you can imagine how a service like this suffers.  Jerome and Theresa’s son-in-law John was instrumental in getting a volunteer fire department  started in Wanblee, they didn’t want to get the tribe involved for obvious reasons.  There are only three communities on the entire Rez with a fire truck capable of fighting grassland fires, Pine Ridge village, Oglala and Kyle which are all under the direction of the tribe.  These fire trucks cannot fight structural fires, they can only put out the fire around the house and try to keep it from spreading to the house or structure.   They depend on other areas off the Rez to come to their aid to put out house fires which can take up to an hour or more to arrive on the scene, by then many houses have already burned to the ground.  There are about 20 men who have volunteered for Wanblee’s firefighting force and John, who has trained firefighters all over the state of SD, has succeeded in training the Wanblee crew to fight grassland and house fires with all trainees passing the state exam.

Currently Wanblee has an old 1970 fire truck with a pump and were recently given a newer truck with a flatbed which can carry a water pump and hose, they’re both used for grassland fires.  The newer truck still needs about $600 worth of work to get it ready for duty.  Since rainfall and snow were limited this winter, the area is drier than usual and they’re worried about grass fires this season with some already being reported.  LFC has offered to receive money for the repairs if anyone is interested in helping.  We already have a pledge of $100 from Janet’s mother who wants to donate the “cash back” bonus from her Discover card where it will do the most good.  We agree with her choice and if you want to join her please send your tax deductible donation (no amount is too small!) to Lakota Friends Circle. Donations can be sent here to the 501c3 nonprofit organization, Lakota Friends Circle, thru paypal (email address- lfc@lakotafriendscircle.org) or by mailing to

Lakota Friends Circle

2415 Amberbrook Lane

Grayson, GA 30017

We will keep you up dated as donations come in. A fire to someone’s home, even a home that has many issues, is still a great loss to that person as they are now homeless. Ask your friends and family and coworkers if they can afford a few dollars to help the cause.

The firefighters can get a much newer truck from a department in West Virginia to fight house fires but they will need to go there to receive training and maintenance instructions.   They’ve been holding some taco sales and other small fundraisers to earn money for the trip to WV.  They will also have to find a place to keep the truck as it needs to be kept out of the elements.   The director of LFC’s husband has a small foundation that donated the $750 needed to join the SD Professional Firefighters Association which will give them access to fire equipment for the men and the truck at reduced prices. Currently they have no respirator masks or protective clothing to fight fires and many come home with a bad cough from smoke inhalation which will lead to irreparable lung damage so they need to get funding to buy the fire suits that run close to $3000 for fighting house fires and $1300 dollars for grassland fires.  Even if they only have a few suits for some to gear up, it will make the volunteer job safer.  If you know of ways to help get equipment or clothing for a fire department  please contact us here. Thank you!

During Anne’s recent Rez visit she was able to attend a meeting of the Wanblee Community Action team attended by representatives from various services in the area. One of the items they discussed was youth suicide and prevention. Unfortunately they’ve had two in the last month, a young mother with a two-year old child and a teen, breaking the three year suicide free record in their area.  They mentioned that if a desperate youth has access to the web, he/she could get inspiration on how to commit suicide on the internet. While they know there’s value to the internet for a mentally stable person, it’s not a place where those with suicidal thoughts should tread. They’ve set up a local task force to find ways to locate the at risk youth and help them find mental health treatment and alternatives to suicide.   They discussed providing positive outlets for their youth to give them hope in life such as spiritual counseling and fun activities such as movies, sports, crafts, homework help, etc.  one of the reasons we ask for these items for Easter and Christmas.  Life is tough and many kids live in homes where one caregiver or both may be addicted to alcohol or drugs, they may not receive the parental guidance and love kids need to grow up with good mental health so some kids look to gangs for their family, others may see suicide as their only way out.

Well that’s all the news for now, Theresa is upset that she’s behind on her thank you notes but wants you to know the gifts were appreciated and loved by the kids. They’ve had to deal with some health issues and are tired, they’re in their 60s so need some down time too, something I can relate to!  For the next 2 months we’re making summer outfits for boys and girls so will share some patterns and ideas with you in the next blog.  Thanks as always from Sew For Kids. Thank you for being such great volunteers as we celebrate National Volunteer Week!

Easter Project 2015 Complete

April 1, 2015 at 10:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As previously promised, this blog contains pictures of some of the donations sent to Wanblee by our SFK members, for the Easter party being held this Saturday. Judging by the generosity of everyone, we think the kids should have a wonderful time with everyone receiving a gift. We gave you some ideas in this blog and many of you came up with your own creative gift bags. Many made gifts, others bought or did a combination of the two. Many said they found stuff hidden away in stacks of material or in a stash of gifts bought off season for this month’s project. Looks like kids will have play and sport equipment, crafting items or receive some of the basic items for their day to day needs with a special added touch! And all ages in the gifts I’ve seen are represented. The party will be simple this year without the game booths as they take so much time to organize and Jerome and Theresa have been so busy filling requests for assistance from the community there has been little free time for party planning.  They will still have the annual Easter Egg Hunt for kids ages 3-10 with lunch being served afterwards outside if the weather cooperates , otherwise held in the Kennedy Hall.  They will use whatever food they receive  from Running Strong and from a trip to the food bank at the end of the month using funds donated by Families Working Together so the menu is still to be decided. The freezer that’s on their wish list would sure help to store food for events such as this and for meat and other perishables for the community, we’ll have more information on that subject later.

Several of you sent in plastic eggs stuffed with small prizes for the 300 plus kids attending. Money for the treat bags came in from several members of our group so each child will receive a bag containing fruit, nuts, granola bars and other healthy snacks and a little candy for a special treat. The High Horse’s are ordering most of these items from their local grocery/convenience store as they want to support local businesses and because the owners, who have been so impressed with the work Jerome and Theresa have been doing, they recently paid off the past due heating bill at the Kennedy Hall so it wouldn’t be closed. These generous people also donated hundreds of sandwiches for the last Christmas party and even entered a store float in the Parade of Lights. Many of our members sent crackers and other healthy snacks which will go in the treat bags as well. Many of you made bags for the party (over 300 at last count) which kids can use to collect eggs and/or take home their goodies. Thanks to Beulah, Deidra, Penny, Jill , Darlene, the Women’s Correctional Center in Vermont (who made 109 of them thanks to Cheryl T advocating for the kids) , Ruth G and to the many others we don’t know about. Here are some samples of their work, you can see all the love that went into making these bags.

Gifts for the party were made or provided by folks from several organizations ,SFK  (Hearts of the Sacred Spirit is the 501c3 we’re under), Pine Ridge Elders, Families Working Together, Lakota Friends Circle, the two Ravelry groups where all the knitters and crocheters hang out…”For The Children of Pine Ridge” and “Sew For Kids” and Half-Knits which is a group of ladies that have been sending blankets and other things to the Rez for years. Many of you enlisted the help of friends and relatives, so we thank those individuals as well. We know we’ll miss mentioning some of you with so many wonderful things being sent in, and many of you sent things wishing to remain anonymous. I usually hear about unknown items, when the High Horses ask me to thank you for the gifts they recently received. They get behind on their thank you notes, (30 plus at the moment) due to community issues that need to be addressed. If you sent anything for the party, please know it is greatly appreciated by SFK and the High Horses’s, but mostly from the children who will be receiving your generous gifts on Easter and their families who get to see their children happy and know there are people out there that care about them.  Even Jerome got a few gifts- some needed tools from  Darlene D and family, Carol M and Diane in NM.  Thank you ladies!  Really the tools were a gift to all the men who help Jerome address the needs of their community.  A skill saw is still needed by the work crew, if you know of anyone that has an extra one or let us know if you hear of a good deal on a new one.

Not everyone sent in photos but we can tell you the ages of people working on this project ranged from pre-teen kids (thanks to parents/grandparents for getting them involved) to folks in their 70’s and 80’s (thanks to Kerry R’s nursing home who made Easter bunny washcloths at their activity sessions) and to Janet’s mom (86) who has been collecting items for the last 2 months, our great recycler Beulah (80+), and Margaret H who has been helping the Rez in so many ways for so many years.  We were all young once and we love it when kids get involved helping other kids, and who better to guide us as we make things for the younger generation. Ruth G, and Alice A and her her sidekick, sent in goodies and included food in their box for those who come knocking at the High Horse door. Jan E sent fun stuff for the bags. Brenda B sent in 1000 coloring books and others sent in crayons. DianeTells His Name and her crochet group sent in hats they made. Kat’s group, the halfknits sent in lots of baby blankets. Angela B. just joined our site and got right down to business , sending in underwear, socks, baby clothes and goodies and giving us some sewing tips. Many sent Easter items but also sent in other needs with their gifts. I have not had time to read thru the Ravelry donations but know of their past generosity to Wanblee and its surrounding communities. In previous years, before getting help from all the charities and groups mentioned above, there would be a drawing for a few Easter baskets toward the end of the party and that was all.  Now each child will go home with a treat bag and at least one gift and all the goodies they find in their Easter eggs and a full belly of course.  Ruthie G. and Janet S. from SFK donated funds for the bike raffle so 2 bikes for older kids and 4 tricycles for the little ones will go home with some lucky winners.

Bikes+for+Easter

Gifts didn’t need to be expensive and many got bargains from coupon deals. We have a few on our site who really find those deals, Kerry R is our coupon queen with Donna S running a close second. Barb R is in the rear with her ability to find deals as are Penny and Deidra. Since filled Easter baskets are hard to mail, Kerry introduced us to shrink wrap so a simple gift could be wrapped and a ribbon added to make it look extra special. Large Easter baskets for the drawing will be provided by Families Working Together from WI.  This charity is run by good friends of Jerome and Theresa who will be arriving soon to help with the party. Teens in their area made the baskets and also stuffed some Easter eggs for the hunt.

Lisa RDA and Judy C sent in loads of books to be handed out to the kids at the party. We know others included books in their boxes too, but these 2 ladies collected over a hundred each!  Donna S contacted the principal at Crazy Horse school and sent, in addition to her Easter party gifts, many Dr Seuss books and activities, to celebrate National Reading month in March. Kids will read if they have books and Jerome has mentioned several times how the kids get bored as they have nothing to do. We all know that can lead to kids getting into trouble. One of the reasons they want to build a community center is so kids can have a safe place to go and play and learn under the direction of caring adults. They do hold activities now in the Kennedy Hall such as movie nights but there’s a rental fee of $50 every time they use the building and would rather use that money on needs for the kids.  Many of you sent new or nearly new games, books, and puzzles  and others made them – memory games, bingo, tic tac toe, etc. Those too will keep kids occupied. Loretta H made some cute Easter animals and brooches, Beulah L made sock bunnies and several sent cuddly toys like Debbie from IL (thanks too for the 20+ cake/pie pans) and Darlene.  Lisa S, Kerry R. Vicki S, Jana L, Jill D and others made beautiful Easter outfits and other spring clothes.  Lisa RDA and her friends made hundreds of little washcloth/soap bundles ,tied with pretty ribbons, that could be given out at the party or used in other ways such as bingo prizes for elders, etc. Linda D , Deidra  and Pat J and her daughter in addition to sending Easter gifts, bought hand washers for moms with young kids. Many of those have been given out and are really appreciated, in an area where washing clothes is a big issue. The great thing about having a large group working together, is the combination of talent, time and resources we all bring to a project, so many more people can be reached when we share the load.

SFK “officially” helps with two parties a year, Easter and Christmas, so we want to make these days extra special for the kids.  We made this decision so we wouldn’t burden our volunteers with constant requests for party things since we already have a monthly project list and most of you either have families of your own or are retired and live on a fixed income.  Although we don’t help sponsor other parties, we will post information for those of you wanting and able to do more.  Our Facebook group is already gearing up for Christmas with one of our members recently winning a bid on Ebay  for a “doll lot” and she’s already busy making repairs and sewing doll carriers and clothing!  Working ahead is great and we don’t want to discourage anyone but we still have a few months of projects to work on before the Christmas projects officially begin. For April and May we are making/purchasing summer clothing for boys and girls. Hopefully winter has died down in most of the country and that means garage sales are starting, which is a great place to get clothing for all seasons, blankets and linens and also where Janet S. and Ruth G. get most of the winter coats they send to the Rez each fall.  If you haven’t already, please join us on one of our groups where we share ideas, pictures of projects and anything else that’s on your mind. Those of you who use Facebook can join us here and here. Yahoo group users can join us here and our SFK blog is here.

Thanks to all of you for helping make this year’s Easter party a smashing success!  We both feel so grateful and lucky to work with such talented, caring individuals so willing to share with our Lakota friends. We will have a party report and hopefully pictures too in the next blog, along with Wanblee news and our new project information.

A picture is worth a thousand words so put up your feet and enjoy the slideshow of the photos we received.

Sewn items

Knitted/crocheted items

Gift bags etc

Final News for February 2015

March 1, 2015 at 5:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Well February has come and gone and we’re sure most of you are saying “Yippee” with all the terrible weather everyone’s been having.  There was a silver lining to being snowbound, our volunteers had plenty of time to craft and sew for the Easter party coming up on April 4th.  There are some beautiful things heading to Wanblee and we hope to be sharing some pictures with you soon, we have some really talented seamstresses in our group and their donations are absolutely stunning.  Just to remind everyone Jerome’s wish list for the Easter party is plastic eggs and small trinkets to stuff them with, toys including cars, dolls, puzzles, games, balls, stuffed animals, and Easter baskets/bags given to those finding a “lucky” egg.  They also hold a special drawing every year which the kids look forward to with much excitement because the prizes are new bikes, 2 for girls and 2 for boys.  Each year they hope to find donors who will sponsor the cost of the bikes, they’re usually purchased from Walmart for around $50 each.  Jerome and Theresa will purchase the bikes themselves if no donations come in but hopefully together we can raise enough money to help them out.

Weather permitting the party will be held outside with a barbecue after the egg hunt but may have to be moved inside the Kennedy Hall as spring weather is unpredictable.   Food will include hot dogs, buns, baked beans, chips and a variety of drinks.  They never know how many people will show up but plan to serve at least 500 with folks eagerly taking home any leftovers. Plastic eggs are still needed so any you can send would be greatly appreciated.  Hopefully this will be the last time we’ll be asking for eggs or at least not so many, they’re requiring kids to turn them in before they pick up their treat bags so they can reuse them next year.  For the treat bags they still need fruit, nuts, raisins, and granola/energy bars.  They will add a couple pieces of candy to each bag, donated by NAHA, but don’t need any more as they’re trying to give kids healthier food.  If you wish to make a donation to help pay for the food or bikes, you can paypal or email a donation to Lakota Friends Circle, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, thru paypal (email address- lfc@lakotafriendscircle.org) or by mailing a check to Lakota Friends Circle, 2415 Amberbrook Lane Grayson, GA 30017.  We’ll let you know when the organization’s website is up which should be very soon. Theresa High Horse is on the board of this organization. Please indicate on your donation it is for the Easter party.

Movie night is being held weekly on Friday nights in the Kennedy Hall, fortunately the High Horses’ daughter and son-in-law are hosting, so that Jerome and Theresa do not have to be out every night of the week!  Popcorn and drink items are always needed and gives the kids a real theater experience.  Carol M. from Maine recently sent a large bag of popcorn so that should last for a while.  Bingo night is held every week as well, mainly for the elders but other adults do attend as well as the grandchildren the elders care for, a common occurrence on the Rez.  Food is served if they’ve received some on the NAHA truck or from a food bank visit.  Recently a request was made for more bingo cards as the elders wanted to play 6 at a time so they could increase their chances of winning a prize.  Once again Carol M. filled that request sending in 3000 cards!!  They can always use small items for bingo prizes such as a small can of coffee, tuna or other meat, a washcloth, bar of soap, puzzle book, book, etc., nothing expensive just something to make it fun.  Since elders are respected on the Rez, the High Horses are hoping to work with them to develop plans which makes their lives better and that of their children and grandchildren.

Some of you might have seen on our Facebook page or Yahoo group that several kids in various areas of the Rez have attempted suicide with several succeeding. The Wanblee area has not seen any attempts for the last 3 years which Jerome feels is due to all the outside help they’ve received allowing them to hold activities for the kids which gives them something to do and gives them hope for the future.  The High Horses recognize that you are all making a difference in your own way and thank you for your continued support and generosity. Theresa is organizing a suicide prevention meeting at Crazy Horse School to be held in the near future.

The Sewing Circle is meeting on Tuesday nights so we’re hoping to hear what they’ve been working on soon.  In the near future we might be sending some beginning sewing projects for kids to work on at the meetings along with the members so they can learn a new skill.  We’ll let you know more about that project later. The Woodchucks and Jerome were able to get several loads of wood from a ranch north of Kadoka. Ranchers need to keep their creeks free of fallen branches to make water available for their animals and the Woodchucks help them by clearing the wood out and at the same time help their community stay warm with firewood for their woodstoves. Thanks to those of you who sent in a donation to help with gas to deliver the wood.  Hearts of the Sacred Spirit provided propane to several families who were without in the Wanblee area this winter.  Hearts helps the Wanblee area but will also help anyone who calls in need on Pine Ridge or Rosebud reservations if they have the funds.  They are always in need of donations as they get so many calls for help during the harsh winters on the Rez.  Thanks for all you do Hearts, please help them if you can.

The NAHA truck recently showed up with goods mostly donated from Walmart. A family, whose home had recently been destroyed by fire, was able to replace many clothing and household items they had lost, thankfully the tribe found them a trailer to live in.   Jerome says many young moms come to them to get things for their families but also come just to have someone to talk to and get advice about their problems as they don’t have a family they can turn to.  Jerome and Theresa made a recent trip to Rapid City to purchase food at the food bank with funds provided by Families Working Together, a non profit from Wisconsin operated by their good friends Bob and Mary Epps.  Bob is a contractor so their main interest is in rehabbing homes and building a community center in Wanblee where families can come to learn new skills and participate in family activities.  They are temporarily providing funds for food since the need is so great and could use donations in any amount.  Their website is currently undergoing redesign so the PayPal button isn’t working, we’ll provide a link to their site when it’s operational.

Jerome’s next construction project is roofing the home of 2 brothers, one a Desert Storm veteran the other a diabetic on dialysis.   One of the brothers works  but dosen’t earn enough money to afford the supplies and labor costs of a new roof.  Bob and Mary’s organization will be working on this project along with any local volunteers and will be needing donations to buy shingles and other supplies.  Jerome needed a nail gun, a small portable air compressor to operate the gun, and a couple of cordless drills to complete this job and once again generous donors stepped up to fill the need.  Cynthia K, owner of the Yahoo group Pine Ridge Elders, provided funds for the nail gun and compressor and Diane from NM, one of the group’s members, purchased a cordless drill.  The tools will be helpful in Jerome’s many other projects around the area as well such as outhouse and handicapped ramp construction, and the raised garden beds, dog houses, bed frames, etc. that are made from the NAHA pallets.

Theresa wants to give baking lessons to people in the community, especially young women, making bread and other items.  They’ll be making both the traditional raised bread and quick breads so she could use baking soda and packets of yeast.  A local man won 1st prize in the “Good Cooking With Commodities” competition and has offered to give a demonstration of his winning recipe which will be held soon in the Kennedy Hall.  Another project discussed was installing some clothes lines for families and trying to find some wringer washers.  We need your help in finding the washers and will provide more information once the project begins.

Finally Jerome asked if we could help provide sugar (Truvia, Splenda, etc. for diabetics) and coffee to take to elders in the far reaching areas he travels to.  Coffee and sugar are not usually available at the food bank  and the elders absolutely love their coffee.   When he is lucky enough to get any it’s divided into smaller portions so more elders can receive some.  Small cans of tuna or other meat are always appreciated and are a good source of protein.  If you would like to help and don’t want to shop or mail a package donations can always be sent to Lakota Friends Circle, just mention how you want your donation used.

Well that’s all the news for now, we do want to post pictures of Easter donations and recognize all our wonderful volunteers in a future blog, for now please accept our gratitude for your countless hours of sewing and crafting and for sharing yourself with us and our Lakota friends. We would love to have others join our Sew For Kids Volunteers on Facebook or Sew For Lakota Kids on Yahoo and craft along with us. There are 2 Ravelry groups ( knitting and crocheting) helping the Rez as well- For the Children of Pine Ridge and Sew For Lakota Kids.

Gifts for the party should be sent here. Thanks from Sew For Kids.

The Easter Project

February 13, 2015 at 7:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We’re late getting this month’s project up but the High Horse’s have been dealing with recent deaths in the family as well as the usual urgent needs so prevalent this time of year. They are busy making food and wood deliveries, processing the NAHA truck, hosting the monthly elders bingo night and movie night for the kids and advocating for the 20 plus families that cannot pay their electric bills and are about to be shut off.  The sewing circle is planning to meet on a regular basis and will have some needs which we’ll post at a later date along with other program needs.

SFK helps Jerome and Theresa with two parties a year, Christmas and Easter.  We’re a small group and don’t have the resources to help with all the yearly events so Theresa has asked us to help with these two as they’re the ones that matter most to the community.  This year’s Easter party will be held April 4 at the Kennedy Hall with an egg hunt (in rain or snow) for ages 3-10 and fun game booths for all the kids, even elders have been known to join in on the fun. No party or event is held on the Rez without food being served (menu still undecided) and people are always hungry so that’s a major draw for many who attend.

They’re expecting about 200 to 250 kids to attend so they would like to have a total of 5000 plastic eggs for the hunt, 1200 were saved from last year’s party so they still need 3800.  They plan to fill the majority of the eggs with small prizes/toys and some will have a token indicating they’ve won an additional prize. There was a discussion about giving out candy but they decided nutritious snacks were more appropriate since so many kids have cavities due to poor diet and hygiene. There’s also a high incidence of diabetes on the Rez and many children are overweight so they’re trying to encourage more nutritious eating.  Each child will receive a treat bag containing fresh fruit, nuts, granola bars, raisins, etc. and maybe a piece or two of candy.  The fruit will be purchased at the local grocery store as the High Horses want to support the few  businesses they have.  This store provided 100 sandwiches for the Christmas party and entered a float in the parade for the first time this year indicating they want to play a role in the community.  Donations are needed to purchase the fruit and can be sent to the 501c3 nonprofit organization, Lakota Friends Circle, thru paypal (email address- lfc@lakotafriendscircle.org) or by mailing to

Lakota Friends Circle

2415 Amberbrook Lane

Grayson, GA 30017

 The organization’s website will soon be up. All donations would be used for the fruit or other food purchases for the party if more money came in than was needed for the fruit. You can indicate on Paypal or in a letter that the money is for the party. The organization will honor your request.

So for the party they will need “egg stuffers”…….stickers, temporary tattoos, small cars and trucks, small animals, McDonald type toys, action figures, shoelaces, erasers, small balls, finger puppets, hair ties, lip gloss/chap stick, bracelets, earrings, etc.  This site has a list of ideas for stuffing the eggs and prizes for the game booths, Oriental Trading  has some good ideas too as do many of the dollar stores.

For the treat bags……. individual packages of crackers, raisins, granola bars, trail mix, peanuts, almonds, etc.

Gift items are needed for the raffle and egg hunt prizes so here’s where you can use your crafting skills.  Make or buy an individual gift or create an entire themed gift basket (include a healthy snack) for a child ages 3-10.  Wrapping your basket in cellophane and adding a bow will make it extra special . Please include a note indicating the child’s age and if for a boy, girl or either.  A very special thanks to Brenda Budd, one of our generous supporters, for a donation of 1,000 coloring books, these will be a big hit at the party!!  If you have an extra box of crayons, colored pencils or markers please send with your next box.   Below are some ideas for things you could add to your baskets, we certainly don’t mean for you to include everything listed. The more gift baskets received the more  raffles and “prize eggs” included in the hunt. If you want some ideas for  baskets for the various ages you can get some from Operation Christmas Child here. Consider when Christmas comes around to send a box or 2 their way!

  • Sport Basket – Soccer, basketball, etc. theme….. include a T-shirt, ball, small portable basketball hoop and ball, book, sports cards, baseball cap, sunscreen, peanuts, water bottle, etc.
  • Craft Bag – Basic crafting items such as crayons, paper, coloring books, markers, colored pencils, safety scissors, glue stick, stickers, etc.  Use a canvas bag to hold everything, kids can decorate the outside or sewers make your own.
  •  Jewelry Making – Include everything you need to create your own necklace, bracelet…. lacing, beads,  patterns, books, etc.
  • Sand Box Bag – plastic bucket, shovel, molds, plastic containers, small plastic animals to “bury” and dig up( like dinosaurs), etc.
  • Nature Basket – Clear plastic box for specimens, magnifying glass, nature book, etc.
  • Book themed bag – Sewers make a book bag, add a book and stuffed animal or other item/s from the book.
  • Game Basket – card games, connect 4, make a tic tac toe game, bingo game etc add hot chocolate and healthy snack.
  • Movie Basket – DVD, popcorn, blanket or pillow to curl up with, hot chocolate and mug.
  • Makeup Basket – Lip gloss, eye shadow, manicure kit, lotion, etc
  • Hygiene Bags for older kids- deodorant , soap, shampoo, razor, make a toiletry bag for the contents, combs, toothpaste , toothbrush, pads for females etc
  • Hair Care Basket – shampoo, conditioner, hair bands, barrettes, other fun accessories.
  • Party Basket – Cake mix and frosting, invitations, balloons, party hats, etc.
  • Zoo , Marine, or Farm Animal Basket – books, plastic or stuffed animals, puzzles, or animal themed activities
  • Garden Basket – Kids gardening tools, plastic flower pots, seeds, book or other garden related activities.
  • Picnic Basket – Quilt/blanket, plastic dishes and utensils, napkins, cans of sandwich meats etc.
  • Bicycle Basket – Tire repair kit, light, horn, safe bike riding rules, helmet.
  • Cooking Basket – Sew an apron, cookbook for kids, choose a recipe from the book and include everything needed.
  • Superhero Basket – Make a costume – cape and mask, coloring book, temporary tattoos, energy bars, other themed items.
  • Outdoor Fun Basket – Bubbles, jump rope, sidewalk chalk, sunhat, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc.
  • Bath Time Basket – Bubble bath, bath toys, no tear shampoo, bath mitt, washcloth, towel, etc.
  • Craft Basket – pick your favorite craft and add everything to create beading, lacing, sewing, embroidering, quilting, painting, etc.
  • Fabric painting – Make animals/dolls from muslin, add some markers or fabric crayons, yarn and plastic needle, etc. and let kids create their own one of a kind art.
  • Bedtime Basket – PJ’s, slippers, book, hot chocolate, pillow and pillowcase, stuffie etc.
  • BFF Bag – include autograph book, paper and fabric markers, pillow or animal for all those BFF’s to sign, embroidery floss and instructions for making friendship bracelets.
  • Breakfast Basket – Cereal, cereal bowl and spoon, kid’s placemat, powdered milk, raisins, nuts, hot chocolate and mug.
  • Lego Basket – Lego’s, plastic container for storage, book and other Lego themed items.
  • Puzzle Bag – Puzzles and puzzle books, pencil and eraser, etc.
  • School Supply Bag – Pencils, eraser, pencil sharpener, glue stick, paper, folders, healthy snack, calculator.
  • Baby Bag – Bib, washcloths, outfit, baby wash/shampoo, diapers( consider making a cloth diaper bag with all the needs for diapering)
  • Play dough bags – roller, shapes, mat , etc
  • Journal Bag, – journal or a scrapbook , items to decorate it with , calendar, pens etc photo envelopes(for school pictures)
  • Puppet bag- puppets or items to make their own, storybook, coloring pages etc
  • Kids Busy Bags – Pick your favorite theme make a few activities and add a snack.

These are just a few of the thousands of ideas available on the internet.  We would love to see pictures of your finished baskets/bags and welcome your suggestions and ideas.   Please let us know if you’re sending gifts or gift baskets so we know the number being sent.  Thank you for helping the High Horse’s with this party, if the past is any indication, our wonderful volunteers will make it a huge success. Please send your gifts to this address.

Thanks from Sew For Kids

Cloth Diapering on the Rez as a Possibility?

January 28, 2015 at 9:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Every month there’s a call from the Rez saying they’re either out of disposable diapers altogether or they’re short on sizes 2-6.  They get size 1 and occasionally 2’s from the NAHA truck deliveries or from the clinic as they use this as an incentive to get women and their babies in for checkups. Babies on the Rez tend to be larger and grow into the bigger sizes more quickly, as Jerome says, “We grow them big out here”.

Babies want to be comfortable and have their needs taken care of and mothers want to provide for their children but it’s not always possible as they just don’t have the resources to buy diapers, they are dependent on organizations or donations from people like you. Babies fuss when wet and may annoy an inexperienced mom to the point that they may harm their child who only wants a dry diaper.  A social worker once told me that one cause of child abuse is lack of diapers.  Some women are so desperate for diapers they’ve even resorted to washing their disposables, not a recommended practice. Sometimes people use their SNAP (food stamps) card to buy food for others in exchange for cash which they use to pay bills, buy diapers, etc., not a legal practice but one to survive on.  WIC provides formula for babies and food for the mother but does not provide diapers.  TANF (temporary assistance to needy families) provides funds to moms going to school or learning a trade for a limited amount of time and does not buy or give away diapers.   Occasionally the food bank has diapers but if people are hungry and there’s only so much money in the pot, diapers are not going to be a high priority.

Theresa and Jerome do use their own money to buy diapers when calls come in, usually at the end of the month.  They buy the largest box they can afford and divide them into bags which are then delivered as most people don’t have a car, increasing the cost even more.  If they’re out of multiple sizes, babies just do without, they don’t have the finances to buy them all nor do our volunteers when they help with so many other needs.  According to this chart a newborn can go through 70 diapers a week each costing 20-30 cents, imagine trying to afford that when you’re on public assistance.  Theresa has had requests for cloth diapers and we think this would be a great project to start for the Rez but it will take time, education and a few other obstacles to overcome.

One of the reasons cloth diapers aren’t used on the Rez  is either because they don’t own a washer and/or no electric service because of unpaid bills.  Diapers could be washed in a pail or the bathtub even reusing water from a previous wash if water supply is an issue, thankfully there are no water bills to pay on the Rez.  For those  homes without running water, the tribe will fill up a large outdoor tank or neighbors who do have it will fill containers for them. Obviously these families would have a much harder time using cloth diapers.  Parents needing daycare for their children may be required to wear disposables and bring with them all they’ll need for the day.  The daycare in Wanblee depends on the NAHA donations but a supply of diapers or other needs isn’t guaranteed to be on the truck.   .

While the washing and drying issue may be more of a problem in the winter months, the hot SD sun and low humidity are ideal conditions to dry diapers in the summer, a great time to start this kind of project.  There’s hope one day there will once again be a laundromat in Wanblee, but like everything else on the Rez it takes time. Laundromats are great but they cost money which folks may not have and many don’t allow cloth diapers to be washed there due to the possibility of spreading infectious diseases to others.  The pail washer would work well for diapers as they could be washed daily or every few days depending on the number of diapers they had. Here’s a “demo” on how to wash in a pail, a wringer washer might be another option for the community.

Before a program could be started they would need to hold some classes on how to use and care for cloth diapers and have a contact person available to answer questions and give assistance to those needing help.  Young moms on the Rez didn’t get the training from their mothers or grandmothers, the latter being taken from their families as young children and put into boarding schools, so they didn’t get the chance to learn the things you and I did from our parents.  Jerome and another 501c3 group are working on acquiring funds to build a center where various life skills can be taught, we’ll have more on this as details become available. The Kennedy Hall is a community center so not always available as funerals, family celebrations, etc. are held there, local political issues are another problem.

As with most new ideas, it would take time before cloth diapers were fully accepted but hopefully in the beginning women would use them toward the end of the month when money is tight and they’re out of diapers. The hope is they will begin to see all the advantages of using cloth such as extra money available to pay the electric bill or buy food and never worrying about running out of diapers again.  Lots of remote areas on the Rez come to a standstill during harsh winter weather and those cloth diapers would really be a godsend when roads are impassable and there’s no chance of getting a delivery as happened a couple of weeks ago when the Woodchucks couldn’t deliver wood to those who needed it. We don’t want babies sitting around in wet diapers any longer than they have to, it’s uncomfortable (remember sitting in a wet bathing suit?) and predisposes them to illnesses or diaper rash which can be very painful if the skin gets raw.

Disposable diapers are easier, if you have them, and more convenient as they’re just tossed in the garbage when dirty, the downside is they end up in the landfill where they remain for the next 400 years or so while they decompose.  Landfills on the Rez are full of used diapers and many an elder on the Rez has told me young women need to go back to cloth diapering.  I used cloth diapers for both of my children and did have a washer and dryer but preferred hanging them outside whenever possible to use the UV light to sterilize and brighten them and to save money on energy. My daughter who was on a tight budget and lived in an apartment, used a drying rack (could be purchased for the Rez for winter months) which extends the life of diapers considerably.  The “ick ” factor is an issue for some but whether you use cloth or disposables there’s the soiled bottom to deal with, most people use store bought wipes which further add to the cost of using disposables and if they’re the cheap ones will require quite a few to get the job done. Others may use toilet paper (or “Treaty Paper” as Native Americans call it) which isn’t very soft on a baby’s skin and another need the High Horse’s are constantly being asked for. Cloth wipes can be made in any size and one or maybe 2 should do the job and can be tossed in with the diapers for laundering.

Because of the education and other issues that need addressing we’ve decided not to make cloth diapers en masse, but encourage you to make these items that can be used with both cloth and disposable diapers – diaper wipes which were highlighted in this blog, a changing pad, a diaper bag, and  a wet bag to hold dirty diapers, wipes or washcloths . Here is a site with more ideas for baby needs. Diaper covers for the disposables can also be made.  Once we feel people are showing interest , we will post free patterns, making cloth prefolds in various sizes or flat diapers held together with the good old fashioned diaper pins we all used, diaper inserts for more absorbency, soaker pants knitted/crocheted from wool and/or plastic/PUL pants.  There’s also a diaper style with “wings” that can be used with one diaper pin.

We know that all of you won’t agree with making cloth diapers but the only way disposables can be available all the time is by donating funds to purchase diapers every month or by sending packages of diapers on a continuing basis with Amazon or other diaper company.  The National Diaper Association is one possibility for us to look into but will require people on the ground in SD helping us with this program as well as fundraising for the diapers. It’s not an easy solution because of all the other issues, but our main goal is to keep the babies we help clean and dry, at least until the next supply of disposable diapers comes in. We’ll be letting you know when this project is a go, in the meantime if you want to practice your diaper making skills there are many homeless shelters and other organizations in your own communities that need diapers, both cloth and disposabe.

Well this is the final post for baby month, keep those machines humming and next month we’ll start working on the upcoming Easter party.  Thanks for all your hard work and continuing support!

Warm and Clean on the Rez and Urgent Needs

January 12, 2015 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Although our project for the month is restocking the baby closet we’ve received an urgent request from Jerome and Theresa for more warm blankets (especially twin size), coats, hats, gloves, mittens and warm clothing in all sizes.   The Woodchucks could really use all these items (in larger sizes)  as they need dry clothing to change into when theirs becomes wet or frozen with snow while out cutting and delivering wood.  The weather is cold and high winds have drifted snow onto roads and driveways making it nearly impossible to cut or deliver wood to families that desperately need it.  They’re hoping for a warm up Friday which will allow them to get back out and build up the wood pile.  Propane is in short supply for most and those that do have it are using it sparingly so homes are very cold.  Families are doing their best to stay warm and are so thankful for all the winter gear you’ve sent, unfortunately there’s never enough to go around.  Warm items are a constant need during the winter months so next year we may continue that drive through January and move the baby closet to a different month.  Most of you have already spent months on the winter project (we too!) and are ready to move onto something new, but helping our friends on the Rez stay warm is a major concern of everyone at SFK.  Anything you can send will be greatly appreciated and if there’s a little room left in your box consider adding coffee, tea, hot chocolate or soup which are great warmer uppers and a package of disposable diapers in sizes 2-5, we’ve been informed they’re completely out!

During the winter babies on the Rez really need warm blankets including quilts and afghans, flannel receiving blankets, warm sleep sacks, baby mitts, hats and sweaters.  Other challenges for new mothers is keeping their babies clean and fed. Many don’t have the extra clothing to change their babies when they need it or a washer, soap and running water to do laundry or bathe.  If they do have water the thought of getting into a tub of water in an unheated home isn’t exactly inviting, it’s hard enough to stay warm when your body’s dry. Towels and washcloths are in short supply on the Rez so rags or clothes are often used to dry off.  Babies don’t like to be in messy diapers and clothing and will cry if their needs aren’t attended to, something that can grate on a stressed mom’s nerves and at times lead to abuse. For the first 6 months babies need more attention and clothing as they’re frequently spitting up and soiling themselves.

We can help make things a little easier for mothers by making/purchasing some things to help keep their babies dry and happy.  Burp cloths are indispensable for the first few months helping protect clothing, cleaning up baby and even used for a diaper if needed.  Some great patterns to try are here:  http://tipnut.com/baby-burp-cloths/.  Bibs in various sizes are needed especially starting at 5-6 months when kids are introduced to solid foods.  They protect clothing from stains allowing them to be used for another day and keeping them in good condition to be shared with another family member or child in need.   Since washing clothes is hard and drying them in winter even harder, keeping them as clean as possible is important.  Many kids don’t have pajamas so wear the day’s clothing to bed, another reason to keep them clean.   Some bib patterns:   http://www.sewmuchado.com/2010/09/tutorial-sleeved-toddler-bib.html,  http://www.lubirdbaby.com/2010/01/just-like-daddy.html http://www.favecrafts.com/Sewing-for-Kids/Terry-Cloth-Baby-Bib-with-Sleeves/ct/1.    Towels are a luxury on the Rez so let’s fill this need by sending hooded and regular, new or gently used or make your own from terry cloth.  A hooded towel can be made by adding a washcloth to a purchased towel, directions here:  http://todaysfabulousfinds.blogspot.com/2011/04/hooded-baby-towel-tutorial.html, http://acreativemomma.blogspot.com/2010/12/hooded-towels-tutorial.html  Washcloths serve a multitude of uses and can be easily made from scraps of terry cloth, flannel, etc., patterns here:    http://www.creationsbykara.com/2010/12/baby-washcloth-tutorial.html/, http://pinoyinoz.blogspot.com/2008/11/tutorial-how-to-make-simple-baby-wash.html

We would also like to provide mothers with more clothing so they have extras to change their babies and young toddlers into when they get dirty.  Any clothing items for children 0-24 months can be sent with warm things especially needed for winter.  There are loads of free patterns on the web for those that want to sew and sales are on everywhere for those that like to shop.  You can also “shop” your kid’s or grandkid’s closets and check thrift stores for good buys.   Other items to consider tossing in your box are body soap/wash and laundry detergent in small containers or the bar type such as Zote, Fels-Naptha, etc.  With shipping costs at an all time high you get the most bang for your buck if your boxes are completely full.  Although we work on specific projects each month that doesn’t mean you can’t send clothing or other items if you know they will be needed at some time.  In other words fill your boxes but don’t make them so heavy they’re impossible to lift.  Shipping prices generally go down per pound the heavier the box gets.

Please join us on our Sew For Kids Volunteer group on Facebook or our Sew For Lakota Kids Yahoo group where we discuss patterns, sales, sewing techniques and many other topics. Next blog will address diapering needs.

Please send your items here. Thanks from Sew For Kids.

January 2015 is Baby/Toddler Month

January 7, 2015 at 4:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

January is here already and time once again for our annual baby drive.  We set aside a month just for babies to help restock the closet for newborns through 24 months.  Many mothers don’t have what they need for their new babies so we try to provide the essentials for their first 6 months.  Word has gotten around via the “moccasin trail” that Theresa and Jerome have baby items to give to new moms so they get lots of calls and knocks on their door.  NAHA and other donation trucks that come in don’t always have anything for babies, except occasionally disposable diapers, so we try to swamp T&J with baby goodies so they have something to give out to those in need.  Although this month is devoted to babies, please send any donations you have throughout the year, they are always needed!

Women deliver their babies in Rapid City or at Pine Ridge Hospital. Hospital regulations require all items distributed to babies be new and what they give out depends on what they have on hand which always changes. They do receive a small tub, toiletries and disposable diapers, but they’re used while baby is still in the hospital so there might not be many left when they come home. With Pine Ridge Hospital becoming a  “Baby Friendly Hospital”, women are encouraged to breast feed their babies. Education is done at the hospital for those who haven’t received any instruction prior to delivery and they also receive a home visit by a nurse within 2 weeks of  dismissal. Formula and diaper bag donations from pharmaceutical companies are no longer permitted because of companies advertising and promoting the use of formula, the tribe feels this is a conflict of interest. The hospital does provide some formula for those women having trouble breastfeeding and they will receive more from WIC along with help to see if their problems can be solved.  Each mom gets a free breast pump as well so moms can use it if they go to school or work, so breastfeeding can continue, the longer the better but the hope is for at least for 6 months. WIC provides women with food for themselves during pregnancy and for 6 months after delivery and for children in need until the age of 5/6.  They provide a pack ‘n play for babies so they have a safe place to sleep as the SIDS rate on the Rez is 2 to 3 times higher than the national average.

Many mothers have their kids in daycare while they’re attending school or working.  Children sometimes arrive there in need of a bath and/or wearing dirty clothes because they live in a home with no running water or laundry facilities, no clothing or just because their parents lack child rearing skills. The daycare doesn’t make negative comments to parents but does try to educate in a kind manner and just cleans up the kids and their clothes while they’re there for the day and sends them home with a new set of clothes if they have them. They can handle up to 20 kids at the center with most of them being infant to young toddlers as children aged 3-5 can attend Head Start. Older kids arrive after the school day ends and are picked up when their parents finish work.

The WIC program sees women on a monthly basis when they come to pick up their food.  Each month they try to do education with families or make appointments for them with other service organizations if needed.  Parents apply for WIC at Crazy Horse school and must reapply every 6 months to see if they still quality for services.  WIC likes to give out things to kids if they have them such as a book, toy, hat, mittens, etc. so they would welcome our help as well. It gets needed items to the kids and also acts as an incentive for coming in to the appt.

Since this is our major restocking for the year items for all seasons are welcome.  We can help the Lakota babies and toddlers by sending:  sleepers, sleepsacks (flannel for summer, fleece for winter), onesies or undershirts, socks, booties, hats, sun and warm ones, sweaters, jackets, winter coats, bunting/snowsuit, receiving blankets, quilts, blankets, afghans, pack ‘n play size sheets (most are 27×39),  tops and pants/shorts for all seasons, washcloths, bibs, towels (especially hooded), burp cloths, diaper wipes, diapers (cloth and disposable), nursing pads, safe toys that are washable, books (board and cloth), baby toiletry items, baby bottles and bottle brushes for cleaning, diaper bags, changing pads, and slings/wraps. The greatest needs for the baby are in the first year and then the next year , the toddler needs the day to day stuff that we all wear plus items to play or read with. Kids outgrow items often at these ages so it is nice to have items to fit the next stage. Moms do share items they have if they are not using them but because kids on the Rez do not have the clothing wardrobes of many of our kids off the Rez, clothes passed on, are not always in the best of shape. Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting patterns and ideas so please share your favorites with us and tell us what projects you’re working on.

Having a baby is a happy event but also stressful, especially if you’re a young, single mother unprepared for what a baby requires both physically and emotionally. The ideal situation anywhere, is for a baby to be born in a home with both adult parents present, but many are born to young, single moms. Native Americans lost so many people in the past that children are always welcomed. Fortunately, for the child born to a young mother, they usually are not living alone. Children can be cared for by other members of the family if the new mother can’t or won’t care for her child. Children on the Rez are believed not to just have one parent, but many, so that should something happen to a parent, another person can step in to raise the child, in many cases the grandparent assumes this role. Young mothers are sometimes ill equipped to deal with an infant and some suffer from postpartum depression, especially those without support, are isolated or overwhelmed with other children. By providing some of the needs for their children, we can relieve one of the stresses of a tired out mom. If you can donate something for mom such as sanitary pads, toiletries (hotel size is fine), etc., it would be much appreciated as well.  Donations can be sent here to the High Horses who will make sure that the items get distributed or kept in storage for the warmer weather. Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.

Sew For Kids 2014 Accomplishments and Christmas Party Report

January 2, 2015 at 11:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sew For Kids had a fantastic year which ended on a high note with another successful Christmas party being held at the Kennedy Center hosted by Jerome and Theresa High Horse. In the days leading up to the party, Jerome said “It was like a warehouse depot around here with FedEx, UPS and the post office all showing up around the same time every day.” He said to extend a big THANK YOU to all who contributed money, gifts and food to the party.  Without all your generous contributions a lot of kids would’ve gone home hungry and empty handed.

The Christmas party started at 3 pm, December 13th and finished with the annual Parade of Lights. The Parade had several entries, even the local food store closed up shop and entered a float. Floats mostly came from local service organizations such as police and fire departments, WIC, Head Start, etc.  Hot tea for the elders and hot chocolate with marshmallows for the children were served to help keep them warm during the parade. 400 people filled the Hall , they stopped counting at 400 so they’re not sure how many actually attended.  People were waiting outside for their turn to come in and receive a gift and something to eat.   Everyone was served a meal of 1 or 2 of the 1200-1400 sandwiches and a hot bowl of vegetable soup or beef stew made using more than 20 pounds of beef.  One hundred sandwiches were made and donated by the local store owner who wanted to contribute to the party, the rest of the food was made by the High Horse’s and volunteers from the community.  All the food was purchased from donations from our SFK group ($800+) and a few other organizations and NAHA contributed the beautiful Christmas decorations.

Jerome’s friend dressed up as Santa again this year and gave out the gifts.  Each child received a gift and a goodie bag filled with apples and oranges, peanuts and candy.  Most kids eat fruit out of a can, if at all, so fresh fruit is a real treat for them. Elders received gifts too as did most of the younger adults because of the generosity of this group and many others who helped make the party a success. The High Horses’ good friends from Wisconsin arrived early to help set up for the big event and brought many gifts as well. The variety of items that came in this year was fun for the High Horses to see, thanks to all of our volunteers adding a new look to their creations or making an item they had not seen in the past. Thanks to all the donations of warm hats, scarves, socks, boots, coats and blankets that people received at the party everyone went home warm.  Jerome said everything was in such pristine condition and the recipients were thrilled with their new clothes. Coats and diapers for the young ones came in from Running Strong  just before the party. Parents, who had children needing a coat, were told to choose one for their child from the many received. The elders thanked the High Horses for arranging and hosting such a wonderful event for the community and said if it weren’t for them their grandchildren wouldn’t have received anything for Christmas. Even those who came to help clean up the next day thanked Jerome and Theresa and said that without their sponsorship of the party and looking for sponsors to help their kids, Christmas would’ve been just another day on the Rez.  Clean up took most of the day but less than expected because of all the volunteers from the community that came to lend a hand.

The new tribal council members for Wanblee attended the party and were very impressed with what has been accomplished in the community over the last year. The tribal council for the Reservation has taken note of the positive things that have been happening in an area that hasn’t really received much attention or money from the tribe in the past.  With more supportive reps on the council, they’re hoping the tribe will help support future events for the community. They were so impressed with the High Horse’s they asked them if they could host a movie night for New Year’s Day if they provided the finances.  Jerome said,  “At this time Theresa and I really need to find a secret cave to hide in and catch up on our sleep!”

I will post  the Christmas party photos once I get them from Jerome. He has had problems downloading them. “There are many to view”,  he said.

I spoke to Jerome a few days after Christmas and he said they were receiving calls from people that were out of food and their children were hungry.  Luckily Running Strong donated 200 boxes of food to be delivered to those in need, right after Christmas.  Jerome and Theresa had to call on their “Woodchucks” to make food deliveries as they were in Rapid City working on tribal issues when the food came in.  Fortunately Jerome has developed a great working relationship with these young men and helped instill in them care and concern for those in their community that need help.  Jerome has been an ideal teacher and role model for them and he can now rely on them to help out in his absence.

Jerome headed to Texas to visit family for a few days but had to come back after 3 days as he was getting so many calls for wood and food.  This morning he and Theresa were heading to the food bank in Rapid City to get some food to distribute to those who are hungry. One of the new 501c3’s will hook up with the food bank but as yet has not been arranged.  The food bank knows Jerome and his needs and told them to come anyway and they will find a way to give them some food until an account can be set up. They can buy the meat and fresh veggies at 18 cents a pound and can get a deal on some of the bulk canned goods although we might get a better deal thru some of our sites. We’ll have more details about this as arrangements are made with the food bank.  Usually they need $300-400 per month to cover families who run out of food before their next food stamps or commodities come in. We’re so thankful, as is Jerome, for the small food items people squeeze into their boxes, or to those who send a monthly food box, it really helps those in need.

Jerome said people are also cold and in need of propane or wood, hard to deal with , with winter temperatures in the freezing range.  He and the Woodchucks were out cutting wood when I called last night. Fortunately, the individuals on this site have provided the needed boots and clothing so that they can do their job in the winter weather on the Rez. Because of those items, you are helping not just them but the others who are recipients of their labors.

Theresa, in addition to everything else she does, recently got a full time job as an assistant to the new tribal representative from Wanblee.  They will definitely have to recruit more helpers to get things done in the community.  A major advantage in taking this job is that Theresa thinks they will have an easier time getting help and assistance from the tribe.  Theresa’s first job was to get a list of those who were out of propane and she came up with more than 60 families.  The Shokabee tribe donated $100 for each Rez household for heating assistance which will help but won’t last long in their poorly insulated homes and the propane companies require a minimum order of $200.  It’s so hard for people to choose between food and heat so you can see why your warm donations make such a difference. If you wish to donate to the propane fund, you can send in a donation to Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, the 501c3 organization we are under.  Some of our members donated small electric heaters which families can use to heat a room where a mattress can be set up for sleeping.  I always remember a parent telling me how hard it is to get out of bed in the morning knowing the house is cold and would stay that way because they had no propane. Another advantage to the job is that Theresa’s new income will help the High Horses have some financial cushion as at present they live on a retirement income and have been using that to help those who call with a need if the resource is not there, their choice and the reason they came back to the Rez -to help their people.

That is that latest from Wanblee.

 Now to highlight Sew For Kids 2014 accomplishments:

Provided sheets, pillowcases, pillows, and blankets for the new mattresses that were donated by NAHA.  Bed frames were built by local men from recycled pallets.    Many families were helped and the pillowcases were a huge success with the kids, surprising even Theresa on how excited they were when choosing one for their bed.  Some volunteers made washcloths and sent towels, considered a luxury on the Rez.

Made tote bags and back packs for the Easter party, many volunteers sent candy to put in the eggs.

Made/purchased summer clothes for girls and boys. Girls who have never owned a dress got their first one from some very talented volunteers from Dress A Girl Around the World.

Restocked baby items for the daycare, WIC and the High Horses    They are known in the community now as the place to go to if you have needs for your baby.

Made/purchased school clothes, pencil cases, backpacks and school supplies.

Sent in seeds for their summer community garden.

Provided  warm winter gear including blankets, hats, socks, scarves, pj’s and warm outer wear for kids and adults.

Some of us helped with Halloween and Thanksgiving needs but this will be the last year for that as our main party events are Easter and Christmas.

Provided gifts and food for the Christmas party.

Provided movies, hot chocolate, tea, coffee and popcorn for movie nights.

Help set up the local sewing group, providing several new sewing machines, fabric and notions.

Responded to an emergency need for a family when a call came through.

Set up two working groups to discuss patterns, ideas, etc on Sew For Kids Volunteers on Facebook (thank you Lisa!) and Sew For Lakota Kids on Yahoo. Of course there is this blog and our basic Sew For Kids facebook page but the groups offer us a chance to chit chat and discuss new ideas. And with new members, come new talents, new skills and new friendships . We welcome all who craft, not just sewers and also those who do not craft but wish to help our cause.

When we started Sew For Kids, our goal was to concentrate on an area of the Rez that wasn’t receiving a lot of assistance but that was also small enough that we might make a difference.  We found Jerome and Theresa and all of you and together all our efforts are starting to make a difference in the community of Wanblee .We look forward to working with all of you to keep the momentum going and accomplish even more in 2015.  Because of our involvement, the community has seen there are people off the Rez who do care what happens to them and their families. In turn more people in the Wanblee community are getting involved in activities that help cement the community bonds needed to get a community working together for the betterment of all. With the feeling of hope people see less need to give up on life and the suicide rate has decreased with none occurring over the past 2 years.

We can’t solve all the needs and problems on the Rez nor should we, but what we can do is offer our help and support as they find solutions that work for their community and leads them toward a better future.  We can help relieve them from some of the day to day stresses that wears people down and takes away their hope for the future.

Thanks so much to all our volunteers this year!  I’ve said it before and will say it again,  YOU are the BEST!  We wish you all a healthy and safe 2015 and we hope you all will continue to work with us and spread the word.

2015 Preliminary Monthly Project List

December 7, 2014 at 9:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Janet Schnurlein and I ( Carol Binnington) the co administrators of the SFK blog and groups, have put together a list of projects for 2015  as we have people who would like to get working on next year’s projects as well as take advantage of the sales pre and post Christmas. One of the things we hope to change for the new year is starting earlier on the Easter and Christmas parties so everyone avoids feeling rushed and you have more time to spend with your families during the holiday seasons.   We’re waiting for input from Jerome and Theresa on the needs for next year but they’re presently busy with the upcoming Christmas party so the list may change once they have time to look things over,

January -Baby Month – NB to 24 months…new or gently used items welcome –  clothing for all seasons, burp pads, cloth diapers, bibs, receiving blankets, quilts, afghans and blankets. sleep sacks… fleece for winter, flannel or cotton for summer, training pants, washcloths, towels, crib and playpen sheets, toys and books NB-24 months, changing pads, sweaters, booties, baby dishes and cutlery, bottles,  baby toiletries, disposable diapers.

February/March- items for the Easter party – craft bags, busy bags for the younger ones, books and sports/active play equipment such as balls, Frisbees, sand toys, etc.  Socks and underwear for age 2 up.  Will have to wait and see what Theresa wants for the party, maybe some raffle items?

April/May -Summer clothing – shorts, tops , summer shoes including canvas, athletic, flip flops, sandals, etc. summer dresses, light sweaters, jackets or sweatshirts (hoodies), sun hats, sunglasses, sunscreen.  Make boys clothing one month and girls the other or sew your preference.

June – Miscellaneous needs/projects – Time to make pencil cases and school bags.  Food supplies for movie night…popping corn, oil, hot chocolate, drink mixes.  Sewing Circle needs – fabric, thread, batting, etc.  Will get a list from Theresa.

July –  Early Christmas gifts/Household linens – Start planning gifts that are labor intensive such as afghans, quilts, jackets, etc.  Towels and other linens are a luxury item on the Rez, we’re adding this need to July as stores will start running sales for students going off to college, school supplies will also start going on sale.

August – Back to School – socks, underwear, shoes, school supplies

September – Fall/Winter clothing – pants, long sleeve shirts, sweats, hoodies, jackets, warm dresses

October/November/December – Christmas gifts and anything warm – Including PJ’s, hats, mittens/gloves, scarves/cowls, winter coats, boots, fleece pants and tops, warm socks, slippers, blankets, afghans and quilts.  Much of the above can be given as Christmas gifts but we want to send each child a book or toy too.   Christmas gifts need to be sent by the first week of December.

Well that should keep us busy for a few weeks.  This list will not change very much as the needs remain pretty much the same year after year.  There may be a few additions as the High Horse’s let us know of needs their community has.  We appreciate everything our generous volunteers do for the kids and we’ll try not to bog you down with every little request made.  There are the little extras for the kids such as the popcorn supplies for movie night but we only include that because these kids have so little to look forward to during their summer vacation.  We believe supporting activities for the kids is one of the reasons suicide rates are down.   We are making a difference!

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