It’s been a while since we posted any news from the shelter but that hasn’t deterred our generous members from sending many boxes of clothing, shoes, toys and other needs to help women and children at the shelter. We’re so happy to report that Kimmie finally received the money from the $450,000 grant awarded to the shelter from the Justice Department in Washington. She would have had the money months ago had tribal politics not gotten in the way, thankfully that issue has been resolved.These funds are supposed to last three years but they need at least $200,000 per year to function which covers employees salaries, food, rent, utilities and other critical needs so Kimmie is busy trying to find more grants to apply for. Employees at the shelter are local people, mostly Native American, and they also have 2 TANF workers who sort clothing and other things we send in. Kimmie is also looking for funding to finish the 3 rooms over the garage which they need for larger families, those that are ill or those in need of a quiet area as they heal from their trauma. Recently they’ve had several rape victims admitted and Kimmie has been taking trauma courses and in turn training her employees so they can help clients with their physical and emotional traumas. She has learned through her training that the community needs a team approach when handling abuse cases as these families have so many areas of need to address. They’ll be working this year on getting nurses, doctors, police, social workers, therapists, etc. coordinated and working together on solving the different issues each case presents.
Kids can go outside and play and have fun thanks to all the wonderful things our volunteers have donated to the shelter such as toys, baby strollers, shoes (a huge need!), and summer clothing. Kimmie is continually amazed at how quickly our groups, SFK, Ravelry -For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation and Pi ne Ridge Elders, respond whenever a need is posted. There is no funding for anything other than the costs of running the shelter so everything we send, helps clients with personal needs and lets them know there are people who do care about them and their well being and hopefully in some small way helps them with their recovery. Kids still love their blankets and stuffies and either hide them or carry them around all day so no one takes them. They love the books we’ve sent and the little ones love to be read to. Kimmie has many photos to share with us and will post them when she can find a minute to spare. One thing they could really use are bags for clients to put their belongings in when leaving the shelter. We feel plastic bags aren’t an option and want clients to feel good when they start over. Purchased bags new or gently used or hand crafted are all welcome.
The police department has given the shelter 2 police cars to use for transporting clients to their appointments. Previously employees were using their own personal vehicles which caused a lot of wear and tear to them on the long trips around the Rez and since they only make $10 an hour really can’t afford any repair bills should they break down. Kimmie is hoping to get free car seats from an organization in Rapid City to use for transporting children.
A new White House initiative aimed at helping low income families buy more affordable diapers was recently announced which also helps the shelter buy diapers at a reduced rate from Jets.com . You can donate money to that program if you wish through the Sacred Shawl Society’s website. Some SFK members have been sending cloth diapers to the shelter and clients are using them while there which helps reduce one of the shelter expenses. Women are given instructions on how to use and care for cloth diapers which most have never seen let alone used. Many families coming to the shelter don’t have running water in their homes so using cloth diapers isn’t an option there. We want to send Deidra Quellette Heyne Finch and Penny Nickols a special Thank You for their efforts in making and sending cloth diapers to the shelter. Others have sent them as well but Deidra who also sews diapers for other organizations and Penny have made a big difference to this program. Deidra sews flats and makes separate covers from PUL so the folded diaper can be inserted and replaced with a clean one when needed and the cover wiped down and reused. Penny makes flats and covers. Many others supply all the items needed for diaper wearers. Thank you to those individuals as well. Teamwork works.
Kimmie Claussen isn’t just the Director of the shelter, she wears many hats in the community including being the Director of Wild Horse Butte CDC (Community Development Corporation) which is one of the reasons she’s not always available to take a phone call. She along with the Board of Directors at the CDC were instrumental in getting a health clinic built for the 800 Native Americans living in their community. Yes, she’s also on the clinic’s Board of Directors! Eventually they will need a Chief Administrator but have been holding off on that decision until they see if enough patients use the clinic and they can afford the cost. So far the clinic is being used by many people and has filled a huge void on that part of the Rez, patients no longer have to travel long distances to access health care. Anne Fields, Director of Lakota Friends Circle, recently visited the clinic while on a visit to the Rez and was very impressed with how nice and clean the building was and with the services they provide. Pine Ridge hospital on the Rez is currently dealing with several issues and the emergency room will be staffed with an outside agency. Our groups and others provide baby items to the nurses in the prenatal and postnatal department at the clinic and also to Bright Start nurses who follow newborns through age 2 across Pine Ridge. Bright Start and the nurses from the clinic pick up their baby items at the shelter storage area and make bags for their clients from items sent in by SFK, For the Children of PRR Ravelry group and PRR Elders group. Many thanks to all of you helping Pine Ridge babies!
As Director of the CDC, Kimmie also works on issues for elders who have many needs and uses Rural grants to get them much needed help such as home repairs or wheelchair ramps installed or trying to find housing for those in need of a home. Kimmie knows all too well about housing shortages as many of her clients have no safe home to go to when they leave the shelter and some will end up returning to the abusive homes they came from. The housing situation across the Rez is deplorable with some estimates saying 60 percent of available housing needs to be torn down due to toxic black mold. More Native Americans are wanting to return and live on the Rez which will only add to the housing shortage. Kimmie is busy meeting with others in the community discussing ways to solve the housing problem, they know it is a daunting task and one that will take time and lots of money. Elders are always in need and sometimes overlooked so please send items such as warm hats, gloves and scarves and coats for them which can be stored at the shelter until needed.
The youth center in Martin officially opened with a ceremony and blessing on May 27 and is being called the My Space Youth Center. The project was developed by Craig Dillon, LaCreek Tribal Council Representative and the CDC. Kimmie wrote grants for help setting up the center and a doublewide trailer was purchased and completely remodeled so the interior looks like new. She asked kids in the community what they wanted most in the center and computers, a TV and Wii games were tops on their list. Another grant from the Dietel Foundation made possible the purchase of 6 computers, a TV and the Wii game. Furniture for the center was purchased secondhand. They have a refrigerator to stock food for kids who arrive hungry which is more likely in the summer when school is out. They’re looking for a stove so they can teach kids to cook and sewing machines are on the future wish list too. They will be setting up a library so books will be needed and once crafting programs begin will need supplies to get started. Staffing is provided by community volunteers and are paid a token of $25 per day for their help. Security equipment has been purchased for the center.
The kids are so excited to finally have a place to hang out and be with friends and parents are thrilled about having a safe place for their children to go. Kids have to sign a contract when coming to the center stating they understand and will abide by the rules. If they have 3 violations they’re suspended from using the center for a few months. Kids can come and do homework and Kimmie is looking for college students to help them when school starts again. Each child that comes to the center is given a canvas to paint and will be hung on the wall when finished. They have plans to bring in someone to teach art to the kids which isn’t part of the curriculum in many schools on the Rez. Other activities planned are movie nights and sweat lodges and those being planned for the future are a garden for 2017, and trips to cultural sites on the Rez along with educational classes about their Lakota heritage.
Anne Fields from Lakota Friends Circle found a grant to honor a person and after talking together and deciding it should be Kimmie, we asked her if she would let us apply in her name and she said YES! She was accepted in the initial process and placed in the pool of people competing for the prize. She must write a narrative and answer questions as to why she deserves to win either the $100, 000 grant or one of the two $25,000 grants. Kimmie has helped her people in so many ways over the years and continues to be a driving force for them so we’re hoping she will make the final cut and win one of the prizes. She dreams about what she can do for the CDC, the shelter and the youth center if she wins. That’s Kimmie, always thinking about how she can better the lives of others. Go Kimmie!!
SFK recently honored Kimmie with a Barbie doll as we wanted her to have something to “play ” with when stresses from the many hats she wears gets overwhelming. Our group under the direction of Penny Nickols, ( our doll lady!) bought and dressed a doll. The idea initially began when someone sent in some Barbie dolls and clothes for the kids and Kimmie mentioned in one of our conversations that she and the rest of the crew were having a blast dressing and playing with the dolls, at the end of the call she said ” Send me a Barbie doll”! Kimmie was delighted to receive her doll and accompanying wardrobe and shared her new gift and letter from us with her staff. Many older women on the Rez never had dolls to play with when they were children. If you remember last Christmas when our dolls were sent to Wanblee for the party, Jerome and Theresa gave one of them to a woman that was helping unpack them saying she had never owned a doll in her life.
We want to thank everyone who has supported Kimmie, the shelter and other programs in the Martin community. Please know that no matter what you send it will find a home and may just be that little extra boost someone needs to have a brighter day.
In closing , we want to again welcome all of you who have recently joined either our Sew For Lakota Kids Yahoo group or our Sew For Kids Volunteer group. You all rock !
Its been a while since we posted any news on the Wanblee area so wanted to let you all know what’s been going on there. Now that summer is here volunteers are or will be arriving to do various projects for the community. The main activity for the High Horses is to get the community center built. Jerome and Theresa are working with the non profit Families Working Together to make this project a reality. It has taken a lot longer to begin work than they had anticipated, first adequate funding had to be raised to begin the project, then the original building plans went over budget so those had to be revised. Although they have funds for the initial work, more will have to be raised to complete the building as they envision. Although SFK isn’t involved with building the center we do hope to help with some of the resources they’ll need for the community programs held there. If you would like to make a monetary donation to help with the build, you can do so at the FWT website. SFK works together with FWT on the annual Christmas and Easter parties.
Youthworks has arrived and started work this week painting houses, building outhouses, mowing grass and cutting weeds (so rattlesnakes are more visible), and helping people, mostly elders, set up their gardens. Each group of kids stays for a week and in addition to all the work they do, there is some spare time to take tours of the Rez and learn about Lakota culture, compliments of Jerome.
Jerome says they’re in need of a few more push mowers and cordless drills to get more volunteers working on projects so if anyone has an extra or wants to purchase a new one we know they would be thrilled to have it. If you happen to be making a trip to the Rez this summer bring it with you, drop it off and say Hi to Jerome and Theresa. SFK is mainly a sewing group but we do like to post needs of all kinds because some of our volunteers like to send tools, and other needs.
NAHA and Running Strong distributions continue with gas money being supplied by Lakota Friends Circle. Jerome and Theresa head to the food bank in Rapid City toward the end of every month when food stamp money is running out. LFC also supplies the gas money for these trips and sometimes helps with the purchase of food.FWT also provides food money but presently all their funds are tied up with the community center build. Anne Fields, Director of LFC, recently applied for and won a $1500 grant from Walmart which will certainly help with food needs this summer. One Spirit was planning to open a food bank in Wanblee but those plans have now been canceled. Once the community center is finished and equipped with freezers and shelving, the food bank in Rapid City will deliver the food to them. Although they’ll still have to pay a gas charge and the 18 cents per pound for food, Jerome and Theresa won’t have to make the long trip each month which will save them valuable time. Currently any food coming in has to be distributed immediately as there are no freezers or storage areas which means any emergency food requests are handled by the High Horses with funds being taken from their own pocket. A soup kitchen is planned for the new center so having the ability to store food will mean they’ll have something on hand to cook and will also make the job of filling out the monthly food order easier.
Finally a 4th of July party is being planned with the expectation that 350-400 people will attend. There is food for the party, thanks to the Walmart grant, but they want to have games for the kids and need prizes, such as jump ropes, kites, bubbles, sand box toys, balls, bats, gloves, bike accessories, fishing poles, and any other outdoor toys. If you would like to help with any of the above, prizes can be sent to the High Horses at this address or monetary donations to PayPal Lakota Friends Circle . Please tell them on the PayPal form how your donation is to be used. If you’re sending prizes via Amazon or other online store, please note on the order that it’s a gift and add your name and address so they’ll know whom to thank. Kids look forward to the party and usually the chairperson of the district finds some money for fireworks. SFK doesn’t “officially” sponsor this party but some of our members do like to contribute so please help if you feel so inclined.
Well that’s all the news from Wanblee for now, another blog shortly to update you all on the latest from the women’s shelter in Martin. Jerome and Theresa extend their deepest thanks and gratitude to everyone that sent in donations of kids shoes and summer clothing over the last month. Thanks to your kindness kids are out enjoying their summer activities with proper attire. Thanks to everyone at SFK for your continuing support and generosity.
Its been a while since the last blog post but we know our group has been busy working on the summer clothing project and many boxes of goodies have already made their way to the shelter and Wanblee. The shelter will always have a huge clothing need, regardless of the season, as most kids arrive with just the clothes on their backs. This past week three teen boys arrived and they had nothing in their size, they could really use boys boxers, shorts and T shirts in sizes 14-20. When clothing and other donations arrive in Wanblee they’re usually given out right away as they have no storage area, the trailer that was originally purchased to store clothing and other goods is now filled with all the building materials they’ll need for the house rehab project this summer. Jerome and Theresa had previously stored what they could in their basement but that area is presently serving as a home for a needy family. Volunteers will soon be arriving to help build the new community center (with storage area!) and to help elders and other residents with home repairs, painting, gardening, etc. Youthworks volunteers are arriving now and will work into mid August.
Both Martin and Wanblee had asked for kids summer shoes and many of you answered that need by sending new and gently used shoes, now they can do all those things kids do in the summer with decent shoes on their feet, Thank You! Many of you sent underwear and socks to the shelter and, like shoes, are always in high demand. Lots of baby and toddler items including diaper bags were sent to restock the shelter and to help with the Bright Start project. A new stroller was purchased for the shelter so women can now take their babies for a walk and both can enjoy the fresh air and exercise. Many books, toys, dolls, etc. were sent to help kids enjoy their summer. Keeping young minds active with positive activities is so important for kids and unless they’re going to summer school, there’s little for them to do. If you’re still working on summer items or find them at garage sales or thrifts, please feel free to send them as August and September are still warm months on the Rez and kids can wear them when they start school. Youth programs are sorely needed in most areas on the Rez and is the main reason Kimmie Clausen, Director of CDC, the youth center and women’s shelter in Martin and Jerome and Theresa High Horse in Wanblee are advocating for a place for kids and adults to hang out in the summer and on weekends.
A big thanks to all of you that sent clothing, underwear, shoes, etc. for women at the shelter. If women are admitted as a rape case they need new clothing because what they’re wearing will be taken as evidence. Most women are leaving in a hurry from a violent situation which doesn’t allow time for packing a bag. The shelter still needs women’s packaged panties in sizes 6, 7 and 8 and sports bras in sizes small to X large. Another need when clients leave the shelter is a tote bag for clothing and other items they receive while there. Tote bags, duffels, drawstring bags, etc. would all be great to send.
In January we posted our list of projects for the year in this blog. It’s time to move on to our next project which has lots of opportunities for shoppers and sewers alike. Summer PJs, pillows, pillowcases, bedding and blankets to keep people comfortable on those cool summer desert nights are always appreciated. Theresa High Horse said larger blankets in double and queen sizes are always needed as many households share a family bed. Most elders use twin size bedding and it’s rare to see a king size bed on the Rez. Some families just sleep on the cold floor until a mattress can be found for them. Gently used sheets and blankets are welcome as are towels and washcloths and can often be found at thrifts or garage sales or in our own closets. New bedding and towels are welcome, of course, but are costly unless you find a good sale so we feel it’s better to have good used linens than none at all. Sleeping bags are another great thing to send due to the bed shortage, please launder if sending used and add a sheet insert so the bag stays clean and just the sheet needs laundering.
Another project to work on this summer is helping families get their kids off to school on the first day by donating clothing and school supplies. Many parents keep their children out of school until they can find the funds to purchase what they need. This practice gives kids another hurdle to overcome as they’re behind their other classmates when they finally do join them. Their absence also affects the funding their school receives for each student as the census is usually taken during the first two weeks of the new school year. Let’s help the kids start school on time by donating:
- Washable markers, fine and wide tipped
- Glue and glue sticks (melt in the mail in the warmer months)
- Paper, loose and spiral bound, wide and/or college ruled
- Pencil cases
- Pens, pencils, sharpeners, erasers
- Safety scissors
- Sanitary hand wipes
Sewers, please feel free to make pencil cases and backpacks, especially for the younger kids as they can be easily washed and reused.
Those making Christmas gifts that are labor intensive might want to start their projects now. The Sew For Kids Volunteers Facebook group is already working on our doll project and a few other things that will be shared when we get to October and November. The Wanblee Christmas party is a big deal on the Rez and our group goes all out to make sure it’s special for the kids. This may be the only time a child receives a gift/toy throughout the year. Jerome and Theresa try to make sure each child gets a fun gift or two, warm mittens and hat and a treat bag filled with fruit, nuts and candy. Knitters and crocheters can help with the hats, scarves and mittens which can be started now or in August and September when we’ll begin working on warm items for the winter ahead. Christmas gifts for kids at the shelter is harder to predict as we don’t know how many will be there. We can continue to send comfort bags and small gifts and toys that can be kept on hand and used for the holiday if needed, more on that as the year progresses. Well that should be enough to keep you all busy for the next couple of months, summer is a time for fun so please take time to enjoy it. Another blog will be up soon reporting the latest news from Martin and Wanblee.
Last, but most certainly not least, we want to welcome all the new members that have recently joined us. Each of you brings your own special talent, a kind heart and a wealth of new ideas to share with us as we work together helping the children of Pine Ridge and their families. We look forward to learning new things, sharing ideas and becoming new friends, we’re honored you’ve chosen our group to share with. Thanks to everyone for your continued support and generosity, we have the BEST volunteers!!
Although we’re two months away from the first day of summer, it’s time once again to start our summer clothing project. The kids will finish their school year by the third week of May which is earlier than many of our schools, but they try to beat the summer heat since some schools on the Rez aren’t air conditioned.
Summer is a time for kids to get out and play and have fun with their friends. Sadly a lot of kids don’t have toys or activities to keep them busy so will spend the summer just sitting around. Those that have fallen behind in their classes will be attending summer school for at least one month of their break. Some kids may get the opportunity to attend a week of summer camp, if they have a sponsor, and others may head to the Sun Dances and Pow Wows held in many districts on the Rez. Summer is also the time for volunteer and church groups to arrive and help with various projects, they usually bring activities and fun things for the kids too.
Summer clothing isn’t a high priority, most parents are concerned with providing nice clothing for their kids to start school as they fear judgment by others if they aren’t nicely dressed. Many will keep their children home at the beginning of the school year until they can afford to get them proper clothing. This practice puts kids behind the rest of their class when they finally join them which makes it difficult to keep ahead the rest of the year. Another reason summer clothing isn’t a high priority is parents will need to spend any extra money they have buying food to feed their kids breakfast and lunch, two meals they received at school. Ninety-five percent of the kids at Crazy Horse School in Wanblee depend on the school lunch program. If a child attends summer classes or lives close to their school they can continue to receive these meals, otherwise many kids go without breakfast or another meal during the day. Food stamps and commodity boxes don’t last the entire month so by the end of the third week parents are struggling to feed their children.
If you’re ever wondering what to send for the kids, there are never enough socks, underwear and shoes. Our kids may have multiple pairs of shoes but when you only have one there’s not much left to pass down to your siblings. New socks and underwear are a luxury, you can make it without either, but they sure are nice to have. Many kids will continue wearing their worn out and outgrown shoes from the school year during summer and cut out the toes or heels so they can use them a little longer. Others will just go barefoot, not something we want to encourage as there are rattlesnakes around as well as dirt roads, broken glass, etc.
This year we’ve added the women’s shelter in Martin to our list of places to help so we’ll be sending clothing items to them for their clients as well as to the High Horse’s in Wanblee. The shelter had 13 children from 2 families last week so went through a lot of clothing, many kids arrive with little or what they have is in poor condition. These kids were all older so their stock of clothing in sizes 7 to 14/16 is extremely low and needs replacing. And with the youth center now open in Martin, the larger sizes could also be shared with kids in need who frequent the center. They’ve decided to limit the number of outfits they give to each child at the shelter so that they have something for the next arrivals. Kimmie, the shelter director, says many kids come in barefoot so they could really use Crocs, flip flops, and athletic shoes. Since our toddler drive was so successful for the shelter, they’ve been able to share the bounty with children around the Rez.
Summers are hot and dry in SD so lightweight clothing in lighter colors helps kids stay cool. For some reason the bulk of donations they receive tends to be for girls so keep the boys in mind when shopping or sewing. Some kids on the Rez wear larger sizes for their age due to their diet so watch for husky sizes for boys and plus sizes for girls. Used clothing should be in gently used condition and meet our donation guidelines. Use your own children/grandchildren as a guide, if they would wear it than it’s suitable to send. New shoes or shoes in gently used condition are welcome , wash all shoes and put in a new pair of laces in athletics so they look newer.
Sewers can find plenty of free patterns across the web and if you watch for sales at fabric stores they can be picked up for a dollar. Fabric can be purchased on sale there too or from garage sales and thrift stores. Look for plus size skirts and dresses, they contain a lot of fabric that can be refashioned into kids clothing. We have some wonderful sewers helping us from “Dress A Girl Around the World” for which we are very thankful. In past years they’ve sent beautiful dresses that mothers have raved about and girls have worn to Pow Wows and other special events. They also sew items for the boys.
Summer Clothing Needs infant through 14/16
- Shorts and lightweight pants
- Tops – lightweight T-shirts and shirts, long and short sleeve
- Shoes – athletic type, flip flops, sandals, Crocs, etc.
- Socks and underwear
- Sun hats – most can’t afford sun screen and the summer sun is intense in SD
- Outerwear – sweaters, hoodies, lightweight jackets
- Dresses/skirts – for girls to wear to Pow Wows, etc.
- Swimsuits and towels – Wanblee has the only school with a pool on the Rez and it’s open during summer.
This project will run for the next two months so whatever you can do to help either the shelter or Wanblee or both would be greatly appreciated. If you have any summer toys or activities, the kids would love to have them. Many thanks from SFK for your continuing support and for helping the children of Pine Ridge.
Please send your donations here. Thank you.
Spring hasn’t sprung yet on the Rez, the Easter party “BBQ “on March 27 had to be held inside the Kennedy Hall but the kids and their families made the best of it and still had a fun filled day. The kids did get to have their egg hunt outdoors, but hurried in to get warm after it was over. Warm clothing provided by members of this group made sure the kids who wanted to be warm had something to put on. Hot dogs and fresh veggie cups were served for lunch, purchased by the High Horse’s from Sam’s Club in Rapid City. The Rez is making an effort to serve healthy food as many are overweight and at risk for diabetes, they’re even serving water for drinks. Bob and Mary from the non profit, Families Working Together came for the party and brought 3000 stuffed Easter eggs and many other things with them. Monetary donations from SFK, Pine Ridge Elders, Ravelry group “For the Children of Pine Ridge, and Lakota Friends Circle were used to purchase food and the bikes for the raffle, many donors from these groups also sent Easter baskets and other gift items for the prize table. Here is a note from Jerome High Horse about the party.
“Please thank all sponsors for there support, the weather was good, the vegetable cups were great, all the children enjoyed the event. We couldn’t give everyone an big item, just the lucky one’s whom found papers in there eggs.
We had an sign in sheet, when it got crowded, an the hunt begin, everyone was outside, we lost count. Estimated 200 plus children, parents didn’t sign in.
And the party photos.
NAHA delivered a few pallets of seeds for gardens this summer so as soon as the weather cooperates garden prep can begin. They’ve already had their annual garden lectures from a Native Heritage teaching organization learning about new techniques to use along with their traditional methods. Vegetable gardens help supply families with healthy food during the summer and the winter too if they know preservation methods.
Jerome has been busy delivering food boxes from Running Strong and the food bank in Rapid City to those in need and the “Woodchucks” are still busy cutting and delivering wood to families that need it to heat their homes. Monetary donations to Lakota Friends Circle provides gas money so the High Horse’s and their volunteers can pick up and deliver food and wood. Jerome recently received some saw blades, etc from the Dean family to help keep the saws running.
A big thanks to Cheryl Torres and her son for future donations of sturdy gloves and other supplies her son’s business will be making to help the wood program. The Rez cuts wood all year long but try to do most of it during the warmer months to get a supply built up before winter arrives. Jerome and Theresa made a trip recently to Wisconsin to speak with Families Working Together about plans to build a community center in Wanblee. The Kennedy Hall can’t be used on a daily basis, it’s too expensive to rent and tribal politics interfere with their goals for the center which is to provide a place where families can come and learn new things, kids can have a quiet place to do homework and participate in after school activities, and for distribution of food and clothing to needy families. You can read more about it on Facebook at Families Working Together. Funding this project will be first and foremost, we’re hoping to hear more about this venture in the future.
The last three months have been a busy time for us at SFK and we’ve accomplished a lot. Since January we’ve been stocking the closets at the Sacred Shawl Society’s shelter for babies and toddlers and have managed to fill a lot of their needs. I recently talked to shelter director, Kimmie Clausen, and she said they’ve reorganized their clothing storage system so containers only have one size so they can locate items quicker and not make such a mess trying to find what they need. This also allows them to see the stock they have on hand and what sizes need refilling. Kimmie also shares the extra clothing and other items we’ve donated with the public health nurse who sees new mothers and their babies two weeks after birth for well being checks, immunizations, etc. The shelter recently teamed up with 3 nurses from “Bright Start” an organization that services babies 0-2 years all across the Rez. This group provided training to the staff at the shelter on issues they need to be aware of such as safe sleeping habits to help prevent SIDS, etc and in exchange the shelter provided the nurses with 50 bags filled with things for babies and toddlers they can distribute when making home visits to families. Thanks to your generous donations many moms and kids across Pine Ridge are being helped and there’s still plenty left over to store for shelter needs. Bright Start also gave Kimmie two pack and plays so they can make sure moms are not sleeping with their children while at the shelter. Kimmie said she’s learned a lot from the nurses and has made some needed changes to shelter policy. They’re also working with LOWO, the foster care system on Pine Ridge, which has helped evaluate living conditions in the homes kids will be returning to after leaving the shelter. Children can’t return to abusive situations nor can they live in unsafe homes. It’s extremely difficult to find decent places to house families, there’s a severe housing shortage all across the Rez which makes their job even harder when it comes time to leave. Kimmie says it’s been a huge learning experience for her these past few months and realizes that they need to hook up with other organizations as they can not do it all and because they need these organizations to help their clients when they leave the shelter. She and her staff are attending ongoing training sessions to keep up with all the latest requirements. Word has gotten out about the shelter and the help they’re providing so donations you send to Kimmie are helping women and children across Pine Ridge. Here are some photos of some of the items sent for this drive. Many volunteers sent items but did not post a photo to our Sew For Kids Volunteer site so am sharing what I have to give you an example of items that were sent in. We buy at times as cheaper than making items when there are great sales. We have lots of talent in our group. I am not sharing items that were sent from the Ravelry group ” For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation, the Halfknits or Pine Ridge Elders because I do not have access to those photos. There are a lot of talented and generous ladies in those groups as well.
Kimmie was ecstatic when I last talked to her as she was finally able to find funding for computers for the youth center in Martin after applying and being rejected for the past 4 years. The center is a remodeled double wide mobile home that provides a safe and welcoming place for youth in the community to hang out. They will have some food available for kids that are hungry as well as a place to sleep for a few kids, if needed, until their home situation improves. They’ve asked community members to help oversee the center and work with kids on skills they’ll need to succeed in life. The kids have a full load of activities planned for the summer including working in community gardens and visiting cultural and historical sites, such as Wounded Knee, so they can learn about their culture and what it means to be Lakota. The community wants kids to be proud to be Lakota and know their history. They also want to teach kids some of the traditional Lakota crafts and will need supplies, we’ll let you know of needs when we receive a list. Kimmie has shared clothing you’ve sent with kids in need at the youth center so once again many children are being helped by your generosity.
This past month we helped promote the annual Dr. Seuss “Read Across America” day with Crazy Horse School in Wanblee by sending books and activities for the kids about animals which was this year’s theme. Kids had a lot of fun that day reading about animals and doing lots of animal related crafts but the fun continues with all the new books we sent.
There is no main library or librarian at Crazy Horse due to funding issues so each classroom has their own small library. The principal distributed the books we sent to the appropriate aged classrooms and each month they’ll do a book exchange so classrooms get a “new” library every month. Kids are required to take a book home every night to read, thanks to you they have many more to choose from now. Currently Crazy Horse is looking for grants for a new playground. They want to develop some exercise activities for children and their families to encourage fitness to help keep their weight under control which is a contributing factor to diabetes which is almost epidemic on the Rez. Access to good, healthy food is also another factor as they live in a food desert. They would also like to have some shade and picnic tables at the playground to encourage families to come out. If you would like to help the school with funds for a new playground or vegetable garden you can donate on the Go Fund me site where they’ve set up an account for Crazy Horse School. Other ways to help the school are sending in “box tops” labels for education and metal tabs from soda cans, they can turn either of these in and get needed items for the school. Shoparoo is another organization that gives points to the school for copying your shopping receipts.
A picture is worth a thousand words, please take time to look at some of the other wonderful things this group has sent to PRR the past few months. These were for the Easter party , for older kids at the shelter or Wanblee or for putting away for next year’s party events. We have great shoppers with lots of talents on this group. We’ll soon be starting a two month summer clothing project, details asap!
We want to thank each and every one of you for making each project for the Rez not only possible but such an overwhelming success! We’re so fortunate to have so many talented people in our group that are willing to share their time and talents with those in need. Thank You for making your group Sew For Kids the success that it is!
And if you want to join us you can find us here –Facebook Sew For Kids Volunteer group and the Yahoo group Sew For Lakota Kids. You can post comments or questions on the blog at the top of this page . We would love to here from you , but better still have you join our cause and sew /craft along with us for the kids on Pine Ridge Reservation in SD.
Easter comes early this year, March 27, and the Wanblee party is scheduled for March 19 which is rapidly approaching. Sorry for getting this information out so late but as you know, things move at a different pace on the Rez and we just received the party plans. We agree to help with two parties a year, Christmas and Easter, so we’ll do what we can to make it a special day for the kids. This is a particularly busy time as we’re also helping with the reading project at Crazy Horse School highlighted in the previous blog, and the baby project which we started in January.
So with that in mind, we’ve decided to keep the Easter project simple this year. Other groups that have helped with parties in the past received the same needs list so we won’t be their only resource. The party is a fun time for the kids but also for the entire community as they can finally get out after a long winter and enjoy good company and good food. It’s especially fun for elders as most never had a party nor attended one during their childhood. Jerome was just interviewed by a local reporter for a newspaper article, “What it’s like to be hungry”, he directed the reporter to local families so he could hear firsthand what it’s like to experience hunger on a daily basis.
They expect about 350 people to attend with 150 -200 of those being children, although that number can vary from year to year. Jerome and Theresa plan to serve hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, raw vegetables, cookies, and drinks at an outdoor cookout. If the long term weather forecast is accurate, the day will be between 47- 52 degrees which is warm enough to cook outside. They will need money to purchase the food, donations can be sent to Lakota Friends Circle here. Last year they spent $350 for food so any amount you send will be greatly appreciated. Any food left over is always sent home with needy families.
There will be an Easter egg hunt so they’ll need small trinkets and candy to fill the plastic eggs. Last year they collected as many eggs from the kids as possible so they don’t have to keep buying so many each year. One of our group members sent a lot of eggs to Jerome last year after the party to use for this year. They can always use more so if you have any extras please send them along in your box. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate last year and the egg hunt had to be held in the Kennedy Hall, the kids had fun but it didn’t have the excitement of an outdoor hunt so we’re crossing our fingers the forecast for good weather holds. They will have two egg hunts, one for the kids and one for elders.
Raffles are part of the day and each year they give away 2- 16 inch and 2 -20 inch bikes, one for each gender in each size. If you’d like to help purchase the bikes donations can be made to Lakota Friends Circle here. They could also use Easter baskets with a theme such as kitchen, bath, personal care, etc. to be raffled off for the elders.
Although most of the Easter eggs are filled with candy and trinkets there are some that contain a special “prize” ticket, those receiving one of these lucky eggs heads off to the prize table. They need simple gifts for the prizes such as craft supplies, school supplies, books, trucks, kites, beanies, basketballs, footballs, soccer balls, sand toys, plastic horses, dinosaurs, or other small toys. Prizes for the elders will be whatever they have on hand from things we’ve sent or from the NAHA truck like hats, gloves, toiletries, etc. In addition to these things they would love to have coffee, tea, kitchen and bath items, etc. Not every egg has a special prize ticket but each child will receive a treat bag containing granola bars, fruit, raisins, candy, etc. The more of these treats that are donated the more money Jerome will have to purchase fresh fruit from the local market.
We want the kids and the whole community to have a special day, so whatever you can donate will help make that happen. We are so grateful for your continuing, generous support of the children of Pine Ridge!
Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.
Last year one of our Sew For Kids’ volunteers sent items to Crazy Horse School in Wanblee for this project. It was a great success so SFK decided that, together, we could help more classrooms this year and celebrate reading at the same time.
I am not sure if all of you are familiar with the Read Across America yearly event. It is based on Dr Suess and it not only celebrates his birthday but also celebrates the love of reading, and learning. It gets books into the hands of children. Why learn to read? This article explains why getting books to kids is so important and the earlier the better. And Crazy Horse School mission and goal is to get kids reading to the appropriate grade level by grade 2.
Crazy Horse Elementary school no longer has a library or a librarian due to budget constraints. Books that are sent in now are given to the individual classrooms so that kids are able to use them. They currently have a policy at the school, that every night a child must read a book for homework, in addition to any other homework assignments. Parents are encouraged to oversee this activity to completion but not all parents understand the value of reading books , starting at a very young age.
This year the theme for Read Across America is about pets or animals in general. You can read about it here.
We want the kids in K-grade 6, to celebrate this day. To do this, we need people to come together and choose to work on some fun projects for an individual class . Here is the breakdown of class numbers. We need activities/games /crafts appropriate for the age level.
K – 31, 1st gr – 19, 2nd gr- 21, 3rd -28, 4th – 20, 5th – 19, and 6th gr- 19. (157)
While it would be nice to give each child a book, it does not have to happen that way. We can send books that build the classroom libraries so that the kids have more books to choose from each night. And with more books, they are bound to find books on many subjects. While there are lots of Dr Seuss books, dealing with animal themes, we encourage people to send books from other authors as well. The kids on the Rez live an isolated life and one of the ways they learn about the outside world is thru reading. Books with pictures certainly help young kids see what animals look like etc. Some books we send could be used more for researching a topic while others can be read more like a bedtime story or for a fun discussion in the classroom. And certainly it is never too early to send books about careers working with animals so kids can see what is available to them in the future. Also think about many of the non profits that help animals to find information to send to the kids .
Kids can have many types of pets. Dogs and horses are loved on the Rez but certainly, many of us had lizards toads, tadpoles turtles, fish, gerbils ,hamsters, birds, cats, snakes, walking sticks, snails etc. Some of us live on farms,work at the zoo, are animal doctors or researchers. The sky is the limit.
Activities and books teach kids about the treatment and care of animals, the people who care for these animals, about the daily needs of animals for growth and development,( birds and fish, reptiles, insects etc) , their life cycles and reproduction, where they live ( country, forest, farm, zoo, water, desert, arctic etc) how they adapt or not to a changing world( how climate change is affecting them), how animals can be identified by their their tracks and poop, how they help us ( handicapped people, police, and fire departments, military, research, animal films, search and rescue), what they provide to us(companionship, protection, eggs, milk, honey meat, songs, wool etc), if animals have feelings, what diseases they suffer from or give to us, their survival skills etc. All of these topics add to the knowledge base of the kids. Kids can compare the similarities and differences of animals to us or other animals, make scenes of their living environment, etc. The core content standards gives some examples on how teachers can talk about the subject matter in Dr Seuss books and this site is another great site for educators and parents as well. There are lots of discussion ideas and crafts for kids.
If you have some fun songs about animals, animal puzzles or games, maps where animals live, calendars with animal pictures, or can cut out animals from old magazines to make a collage or write a story about them, send them along. Stuffed animals could become classroom pets, and sent along to the school as well.
The school has a copy machine but many times lacks the paper for the machine and since the toner is expensive, as we all know,they run out of that so if we choose an activity we need to send enough pages for each child in the classroom. They do not have many computers either. If we develop a craft , send enough crafts for each child in the classes listed above. Money budgets are tight for our classrooms off the Rez and for that reason teachers buy items for their classrooms. The Rez teachers are no different but there is even a greater need as the students do not bring in basic school supplies as they can not afford them so they depend on people like us to help accomplish that goal or it falls on the teacher. Craft materials of any sort is not something the school has ,so again, some of those items would be welcome.
Since this is Dr Seuss’ birthday we want to send some birthday favors and snacks to make the day special. There are several ideas on Pinterest as examples of food or activities with a Dr Seuss theme. We are checking with the school, on foods we might serve to give it a party atmosphere. Oriental trading and the Demco site have some cute party favors but you can also make your own.
We want to get the items there by the end of the second week of March. Although the official day is March 2nd, reading is celebrated all thru the month of March and of course every day.
Send your items to the elementary school principal at the address below and tell them to save it for the Read Across America celebration. If you send items, post a comment (at the top of the blog page ) or on one of our sites so we know what is being sent If you are sending books only it is cheapest to send by media mail. Tribal schools are considered non profits.
We can help get resources to kids that enable them to learn and at the same time , let them have fun doing so. Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.
Last year’s baby project was for the Wanblee area which you can read more about in this blog . This year our focus will be supplying baby items to the shelter and the recently built Lacreek Medical Clinic . We decided to make the change because the shelter is now open and in need of things for babies which will be an ongoing need as more women and children arrive to escape their abusive situations. The health center is in need of baby/toddler items to give out to women that come in with their children for wellness/immunization check-ups . Wanblee is only 30 miles from Martin (a short distance for the Rez), so their residents can use the clinic and also pick up any baby things they may need from Kimmie at the shelter. The Health clinic in Wanblee was not able to accept items and the Public Health nurse had no place to store them except at the High Horses. There is now a lack of storage at the High Horses because the storage truck at the High Horse’s is currently full of building materials needed to rehab homes. This is one of the reasons they’re hoping to build a community center in Wanblee this year or next.
The blog is later than we’d like but “Rez time” is slow and making contact with reps there, can be a little trying to say the least. Kimmie has very little spare time as she’s been dealing with other issues, like assuring there’s enough money in the bank to pay employees and finding a repairman to fix the broken furnace. Although she received many grants for the shelter, it takes time for the money to start coming in. Even with all the grants there still won’t be enough money to cover every cost of running the shelter. Your monetary donations are always welcome of course, but our group can also help provide the day to day needs of clients for which there is no money.
The shelter which serves the entire Rez, will need basic things for babies and toddlers including shirts/tops, pants, shorts, sweaters/hoodies, coats, buntings, mittens, hats, sleepers, sleep sacks, PJ’s, onesies, socks, underwear, and shoes (many arrive barefoot). They also need receiving blankets, warm blankets, burp cloths, bibs, diaper bags, diapers… both cloth and disposable, baby bottles and brushes, baby wash, and diaper cream. Many of these things will leave with the client if they don’t have resources for their children.
The clinic’s community heath representative and the nurse doing well baby check ups would like our help with filling 25 diaper bags for distribution to new mothers. Often times women arrive home after delivery with nothing for the care of their new baby. They do receive a bag of diapers and some formula while at the hospital, but most of that is gone by the time they’re released. Breastfeeding is strongly encouraged and hopefully their first choice, but the reality is many women can’t breastfeed because of taking medications, substance abuse, or other health reasons. Teen mothers are less likely to breastfeed as they’re not mature enough emotionally or physically, feeling discomfort and lack of education may be issues with all age groups. WIC does provide breast pumps for women returning to work or school, but many lack the motivation to do it. All women are encouraged to return to high school or college as soon as possible or work towards getting their diploma via the Virtual GED program. Pell grants allow women who already have their GED to attend the local community college. Those mothers needing a crib or pack and play can get one from WIC but could use extra sheets as only one is supplied with the bed. Public Safety provides a car seat to mothers that need one (to leave the hospital), but they’ll soon need to purchase another as it only fits babies up to 20 lbs.
Diaper bags will need the following: powdered formula, baby bottles and bottle brush, baby wash, diaper cream, diapers sizes 1-4, wipes, changing pad, washcloth, towel, burp cloth, bib, socks, receiving blanket, warm blanket, and clothing including onesies, sleepers, sleep sack, sweater, pants, infant outfits in sizes 0/3 months or larger. Pre-owned items in gently used condition are always acceptable. At times both the shelter and clinic will receive diapers and formula but the supply isn’t reliable and there’s a constant need for both. SNAP usually lasts a family about 3 weeks instead of 4 so women are out trying to find or borrow supplies until the first of the month. We want to prevent mothers from giving their babies Kool Aid during the last week of the month and also would like them to have some cloth diapers on hand so they can keep their baby clean and dry. Our hope is they will get accustomed to using cloth diapers and ask for more.
We’re especially happy to hear women will soon be receiving some education about health and family issues. Health care workers and shelter personnel will be giving educational seminars to women at the community center on the topics of parenting, baby care, healthy eating, budgeting, judicial issues, breastfeeding, immunizations, etc.
So please join us this month and next making warm and wonderful items for all those little bundles of joy being born on the Rez. Imagine what it will mean for a new mother with nothing for her little one, to receive a filled diaper bag! Whatever you can make or purchase for the project is desperately needed and will be used, we’re so grateful for your help! If you want a charitable tax form , use this form designed by Penny Nickols, a member of Sew For Kids Volunteer Facebook group ,keeping a copy for yourself and asking the shelter personnel to sign, date the donation and send back in the SASE , enclosed . Thank you Penny for designing this form.
Please send all donations to the shelter at the address below. Please enclose a SASE in the box visible to the receivers.
Sacred Shawl Society
c/o Kimmie Claussen
PO Box 488
Martin, SD 57551
Via Fedex or UPS
Sacred Shawl Society
c/o Kimmie Clausen
401 5th Street
Martin, SD 57551
As always, thanks from Sew For Kids!
Every January Sew For Kids sets project goals for the year ahead. We try our best to choose projects that help provide what people want and need so your time, talents and money are used wisely. Keep in mind the list below isn’t written in stone and things can change on the Rez overnight, something we have no control over. We can tell you the major projects such as the baby needs, Easter, winter items and Christmas won’t change but more needs could be added during those months. Since we’re now helping the communities of Wanblee and Martin, we have lots of options open to us. We’re going to try a few different projects this year including helping individual families in need, identified by our contacts in Wanblee and Martin, and the other being a school/classroom project. We’ve tried working with a Head Start class in the past but didn’t work out as we couldn’t get the cooperation needed from those in charge. We’ll give this project another try if we can find people willing to work with us.
We’ve decided to give each project two months to allow plenty of time for completion since most of you are either still working and/or raising families or on a fixed monthly income. This extra time will also allow us to work on short term projects such as a family in need or emergency requests we receive from our contacts. Although we’re mainly a sewing group, we realize not everything can or should be sewn as sometimes the best value is to order online and get free shipping. We also want to welcome other crafters to join with us, knitters, crocheters, weavers, etc. There’s always something you can do to make a difference to the kids we help. So our main list of projects for the year is below and also a list of ongoing projects that might need resources from time to time. We’ll elaborate more on each project when it begins, but wanted to get the list out ASAP as we have lots of members just waiting to sink their teeth into something. Heck, some of you are starting on Christmas gifts for the 2016 party!!
January/February Baby (0-24 months) and Toddler (2-4/5 T) needs for the Sacred Shawl Society and for the nurse at the Martin Clinic for distribution to patients. Those not working on babies can be planning/working on gifts for the Easter party. We don’t have a date for the party yet but Easter is March 27.
February/March Baby and Toddler needs still ongoing and Wanblee Easter Party gifts and donations for food.
April/May Summer clothing for the kids in both Wanblee and the Sacred Shawl Society. Non-sewers, garage sales are starting, yippee!!
June/July Lot of variety for these two months….. for the sewers make pencil cases, back packs for younger children, summer pj’s, pillows and pillowcases….. For the shoppers look for good, gently used school clothing, coats, hoodies, etc. at summer garage sales and start watching for sales, usually in July, for socks, underwear, shoes and school supplies. Get a head start on making Christmas gifts for the Rez children.
August/September Making warm items for the cold months ahead including hats, mittens, scarves, blankets, sleep sacks, slipper socks, warm school clothing, winter pj’s, etc. for both the shelter and Wanblee.
October/ November Use these two months to sew/craft and shop for Christmas gifts for the party. Many will still be working on the warm hats and mittens to send as gifts and the doll project should be going in full swing. Shipping will start after Thanksgiving.
December Finish up Christmas projects and ship boxes to arrive at least a week before the party, date still undecided but probably December 10 or 17. Take a well deserved break and enjoy the holidays with your families and friends!
Ongoing projects that may need our help:
Popcorn supplies for movie nights in Wanblee, the Martin Youth Center and the shelter.
Items for the Youth Center in Martin, Wanblee Community Center, Martin Clinic, etc. including toys, books, crafts, school supplies, etc.
Wanblee Sewing Circle – notions and fabric
Individual Families – As identified by Jerome in Wanblee and Kimmie in Martin.
School Project and also Box tops and Shoparoo Project, amazon Prime donations etc
Sacred Shawl Society – Once they’re open will need many things replaced on an ongoing basis. Clothing, pj’s, socks, shoes, and underwear for women, babies and children. Cleaning and laundry supplies, pantry staples, toys, paper goods, garbage bags, personal hygiene items for women, toiletries, etc. If you find a good sale on any of these items stock up, chances are they or someone else will need it. Also comfort bags for kids in crisis.
Thanks everyone for your continued support and generosity! We have 2 sites where we meet up to talk about projects, share ideas etc. Find us on Sew For Kids Volunteers on Facebook and Sew For Lakota Kids on Yahoo. Our facebook site is by far the most active but if you post on yahoo, , we will answer you. We hope this year holds good health and happiness for you all and we look forward to working with you in the coming year.
Happy New Year to everyone from the Sew For Kids crew! 2015 was a great year for us, we made new friends and had new volunteers join us from across the country and even a few internationally. We joined forces with groups such as Ravelry, PRE (Pine Ridge Elders), and FWT (Families Working together) which means more people could be helped and more programs receiving support. We added a new program, the Sacred Shawl Society’s domestic abuse shelter in Martin and we’ll be branching out further in that community in 2016. We learned new sewing skills this year from our fabulous volunteers and received daily inspiration and support from all the group posts and photos of their latest projects. Each volunteer brings with them a new set of ideas, new skills, a compassionate heart and a desire to help others. Our volunteers are the reason SFK has been so successful in helping more and more people and programs every year. There isn’t enough time and space for us to ooh! and ahh! and gush over the quality and attention to detail they put into each and every item they send to the Rez. Thank you ladies for a job well done!!
As we read through the blogs from 2015 and contemplated about projects for 2016, we decided to recap all the accomplishments you made throughout the past year, and they are many!
We started out the year in January and February by making baby and toddler items to be sent to the High Horse’s in Wanblee for distribution to new parents in need. Providing baby supplies to new parents (many of them teens) helps alleviate some of the stress they feel as they try to cope with the demands of a newborn and being first time parents with few resources at hand. Items were also shared with the local daycare center where many children arrive with dirty and wet clothing due to a lack of laundry facilities and extra clothing to change in to. The local WIC office, where women come to receive their monthly food stipends, immunizations, medical advice, education and help with other issues were also recipients of your kindness. Some of your donations were used as incentives to encourage women to come in with their children so they could be evaluated and possibly catch any issues early before a major problem occurs, which is a real possibility with inexperienced moms. Also during those first two months we were still sending warm clothing, hats and gloves and blankets as winter was still in full force and Jerome was getting daily requests for anything warm as families had run out of money which meant there was no fuel to heat their homes. Jan Eggert said she wanted to celebrate the new year by doing something nice for someone every day of 2015. She started by sending many boxes of warm things for the kids and she continued to send things throughout the entire year and finished her New Year’s resolution by sending another new sewing machine for the Sewing Circle group. Thanks to you Jan and to all our donors who sent fabric and sewing supplies so ladies could make things for their families and to sell for income.
The month of March was used to make gift items for the Easter party which turned out to be a huge success. As usual you went the extra mile to make things special for the kids. New pillows were sent to go along with all the beautiful pillow cases you made, a gift the kids love and keep asking for. Many sent donations to purchase bikes for the raffle, Brenda B. sent 1000 coloring books! One of our volunteers, Donna Snider, contacted the local school principal on her own and sent books and activities for the kids to celebrate “Read Across America” month. Many thanks to her for her donations and for inspiring us to participate as a group this year.
Summer clothing for kids was our project in April and May. Girls received beautiful dresses, skirts and tops from our talented seamstresses, which many people raved about on the Rez. Boys got a new pair of shorts and a shirt for summertime play so they didn’t have to wear hot jeans in the stifling heat. Many of you sent flip flops, sandals, sun hats, sunscreen and new or gently used clothing too. Summer clothing isn’t something kids usually get new or at all as any available money is used to buy extra food to feed children home for the summer and to get ready for the upcoming school year.
June’s sewing project was making school bags, backpacks and pencil cases and to begin watching sales for supplies to fill the bags. Many of you sent donations to help purchase food for the July 4th party and to help raise the $500 needed for repairs on a donated fire truck. Thanks to you they now have two trucks available to fight bush fires. Several volunteers also sent popcorn supplies, drinks and some new videos for movie night, something the kids really look forward to during the summer.
In July one of our members alerted us to a new domestic violence shelter opening on the Rez in Martin called the Sacred Shawl Society. Contact was made with the director, Kimmie Clausen and we made a new friend and found a new project needing our help. Janet Schnurlein, my co administrator, visited the shelter in July on her way to the Rez and dropped off a car load of clothing, food, two sewing machines and many other supplies she and her sister-in-law, Ruthie Gruel, had been collecting. Janet met Kimmie at the new facility and she gave her a personal tour of the facility and learned of other things they still needed to open and of their future plans. Most of the items needed for day to day operations of the shelter and clothing for their clients came from our group. We sent kitchen supplies and small appliances, towels, bedding, clothing, cleaning and laundry supplies, toiletries, toys, baby gates and other safety items so they could pass inspections. The Ravelry group “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” and Pine Ridge Elders helped the cause as well. Barb Reinert was a big supporter of the shelter and won a $1000 gift certificate from Yerdle and asked that community to help the cause. Laurie Allen delivered sheets and towels to Kimmie on a trip to the Rez donated from a hotel her daughter works for. Thanks to everyone that helped with shelter needs. We’ll continue to support this important program and may add the youth center Kimmie has opened as well. Many teens on the Rez are at risk and need to have a place to hang out, do homework, get something to eat, or just have someone to talk to and listen to their problems. With over 100 teen suicide attempts in 2015 and 20+ succeeding, this youth center is definitely a welcome addition to the Martin community, hopefully more can be opened across the Rez.
For the August project we made school clothing, purchased underwear, socks, and shoes, and sent school supplies including paper, pencils, pencil cases, folders, crayons, backpacks, etc. One of our members, Darlene Dean, drove out to the Rez with her husband to deliver a truckload of donations they had been collecting from family, friends and local community. On that truck for the kids and their families were toiletries, shoes, PJ’s (62 pairs!), food, clothing, bedding, towels and toys. Many thanks to Darlene and family for their generosity!
In September we held our “Pajama Party” when we made (or purchased) 159 pair of PJ’s, 30+ pairs of slippers, 85+ pillowcases, and purchased 84 new pillows to send to the Rez. Many kids on the Rez have neither PJ’s to sleep in nor a pillow to lay their head on so they were thrilled to be receiving these which were mostly given out at the Halloween party. There’s never enough pillows to go around so we were asked to make more for Christmas gifts.
October winds started blowing on the Rez and we responded by making mittens/gloves, hats, slippers, scarves, and blankets and sending warm coats and clothing. Many of the warm knitted and crocheted items came from the Ravelry group “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” and the Yahoo group “Pine Ridge Elders”. Many afghans were donated by “Halfknits” and our own members Beulah Lindberg, Carol M , Marilyn Lee Bellonci, and Vicki Sick. Beautiful sweaters and accessories were knitted by Karen Sheets, Brenda Budd and many others. Some of you helped with the Halloween party sending decorations, prizes and donations for food.
November was a very busy month for our Sew For Kids Volunteer group. Our Christmas elves made or purchased countless gifts for the 500+ kids who would be attending the Wanblee Christmas party. We can’t take all the credit as there was plenty of help from other groups but our small group certainly made a pretty good dent! Most of the Christmas items were sent to Jerome and Theresa as the shelter wasn’t officially open but a few gifts were sent to the shelter. Through Kimmie we learned of a grandmother caring for her 16 grandchildren desperately needing help. Our group jumped right in sending clothing, bedding, household items, blankets, toys, coats, shoes, boots, underwear and socks, gift cards and countless other items. We can’t begin to list the help our members gave to those in need in other parts of the Rez, their generosity ranged from solar lanterns and heaters for students to helping a new mother with nothing for her baby. We are so fortunate to have this group of incredible ladies working together helping those in need on the Rez. Thank you hardly seems adequate, bless you all for your kind hearts!
December was our time to finish up projects and ship all the gifts for the Christmas party and to continue sending warm winter gear and blankets. There are so many people to thank, if we left you out it certainly wasn’t intentional. Thanks to Penny Nickols for spearheading the doll project and for all her help with patterns, updating the database and anything doll related. We had over 75 dolls of all sizes, shapes and colors to send for Christmas. Penny, Carol, Deidra, Jill, Deanna and many others purchased most of the dolls (and made clothing) and enlisted help from other SFK members to sew clothing for them. Members made and shipped clothing to the owner of the dolls so they could be packaged together for delivery to the Rez. Thanks for sewing the beautiful clothing goes to: Angela B, Barb R, Brenda B, Beulah L, Billie P, Darlene D, Janet S, Katie S, Linda R, Ruth G, and Vicki S. For the boys there was “Dress A Bear” headed by Donna Snider. Another group of ladies felt boys might be overlooked in the gift department and decided to focus on “boy stuff”. Those volunteers were Angela B, Barb R, Brenda B, Cynthia D, Deanna W, Gaylen D, Jill D, Laurie A, Linda D, Lisa, Stacy C, Margaret H and Penny N. Angela, Barb and others sent gifts for teens as they wanted to make sure they weren’t left out on Christmas, thanks ladies! Many thanks to those of you sending items for the elders, crock pots, blankets, hats, mittens, towels, etc. which was a last minute request from Jerome and Theresa. Thanks to Lisa for all her work keeping the volunteer group site running smoothly and managing member requests and for posting untold numbers of links for free patterns and valuable information for everyone. Thanks to all our members that are constantly watching out for information from the shelter or for other news of interest across the Rez, you all must have eyes in the back of your head!
The following note was received from Jerome shortly after the party.
“On the parade we distributed candy bags and gifts, elderly’s received blankets, gloves, crock pots and caps.
All children received caps, toys, gloves, stuffed animals, most received 3-4 gifts.
The 12 Elfs volunteers came from Trimont, Minnesota.
Our 6 grandson’s helped with the distribution, they all said others need them.
Santa was very happy to be here, he said of all the places he goes, this is very memorable, thoughts of gratitude, appreciation and true Christmas Spirit.
We appreciate, if you would give our heartfelt thanks for all the sponsorship and assistance to community Christmas.
Months of planning was very memorable for 2015
We are tired and worn out, we will be home.
“God Bless y’all and Have A Merry Christmas with your Families”
We can’t possibly thank everyone that helped in 2015 but it’s not for lack of trying. We’re undoubtedly going to miss someone in the course of a year so if you don’t see your name just know that everyone is important to the cause and we are grateful. If you didn’t send anything but told just one person about the plight of Native Americans on reservations or gave just one person a link to our site than you helped more than you know. As we said earlier, without our team working together we wouldn’t be where we are today nor would the communities be enjoying the support for their programs you all so generously contribute to. So A BIG THANKS to all of you from Sew For Kids!! We do hope you’ll stay with us as we head into the new year. The new project list for 2016 will be up in a day or so but until then we can tell you January will be focusing on things for babies and toddlers so get ready! Please take time to look through the photos below of some of the events and accomplishments of 2015.
We at SFK wish you and your families all the best in 2016. We’ll end with another note received from Jerome yesterday, “God Bless y’all. Tell all sponsors, we wish them an Happy New Year”!