New Sew For Kids Fund

Shipping rates are rising again for 2017 and since we’re always trying to keep costs as low as possible for you, we thought a monthly  donation program would be the best value for those on tight budgets, occasional donors or anyone wanting to help our areas with food and other monthly needs. Small monthly donations of $5 or more can really add up and together we can help provide funds so our program directors can purchase food at their local food pantries and grocery stores or we can buy goods in bulk online and save shipping costs. Donate when you have a little extra to share, there is no minimum or requirement to fill, this is just another way to help. All donations are tax deductible and can be made to Lakota Friends Circle via Paypal or mail. Please note that your donation is for the Sew For Kids fund. We will still continue with our monthly projects and of course you may send any of the needs listed below if you prefer not to contribute to the fund or if you decide to do both. Sew For Kids is under the umbrella of Lakota Friend’s Circle so we did not have to set up our own 501c ( 3) another cost that would take away from the items needed on the Rez for the kids.

Some of the things the fund could provide for:

  • Pantry Needs – milk, eggs, bread, cheese, crackers, peanut butter…… canned goods including soup, pasta meals, fruits and vegetables…..canned meats such as chicken, tuna, ham, spam, etc.
  • Baby Formula – Enfamil, Similac, etc. for infants and older.  Most babies can drink dairy at 12 months.
  • Diapers – Disposables in sizes 1-6.
  • Toiletries – Shampoo, deodorant, sanitary pads and tampons, body wash, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, razors, shaving cream, combs and brushes.
  • School Supplies – Notebooks, colored pencils, crayons, markers,  erasers, pens, pencils, whiteboard markers, paper plain and lined, scissors, glue.
  • Craft Supplies – Construction paper, drawing paper, acrylic paints, art brushes, modeling clay, etc.  Fabric for star quilts, leather and beading supplies for traditional crafts.
  • Sports and Entertainment – Board and card games, puzzles, activity books, coloring books and sporting goods such as baseballs, baseball mitts, basketballs, soccer balls, Frisbees, outdoor games, etc.  The youth center in Martin needs help building their library so donations of books on any subject for any age are welcome.  Check media mail rates at the PO for a good rate.
  • Special Requests – Such as a crib for a shelter room, stroller, coffee maker, toaster, etc.

Food insecurity is a reality for most children on the Rez.  They rely on the two meals a day received at school which may be all they get to eat that day and if it happens to be a Friday and the cupboard is bare at home, they could go most of the weekend without food, that’s 60 hours or more of going hungry!  Children are also at risk when school breaks for the holidays and especially the long summer vacation.  If families are receiving food stamps they usually cover 3 weeks out of the month and even less if kids are not in school.  Good nutrition is vital if children are to grow up healthy, both physically and mentally, so they can get off to a good start in life.

Food is also a big expense for organizations serving the public on the Rez.  Kids coming to the Martin youth center after school are given a snack to make sure they get something to eat in case there’s no evening meal at home.  The High Horses in Wanblee often receive calls from women with hungry children in their district desperate for food.  The Marty School needs food to send home in backpacks for students at the highest risk of going hungry in the evening and on weekends.  Having nutritious snacks available in classrooms is desirable as growing kids are always in need of extra calories, more so for kids with food insecurity.  Donations to the fund could help build pantries at these sites and would bring us all the comfort of knowing children were not going hungry.

Diapers and formula are two requests usually coming toward the end of the month in Wanblee and Martin.  Many new mothers are young and inexperienced and are already under stress, a crying baby that can’t be consoled due to being hungry or wearing a soiled diaper is at an increased risk of being abused or neglected.  Having diapers and formula on hand to give out to mothers could prevent this from happening.  A can of powdered formula on the Rez is $32 and can be purchased with food stamps or given through the WIC program, but regardless of the source it doesn’t last the entire month.  This is the time babies are most likely to receive watered down formula or Kool-Aid in their bottles.  The fund would allow us to purchase formula at a volume discount and get free shipping.

Some of our members are making cloth diapers for the shelter so they have something on hand if they run out of disposables and to give to clients requesting them when they leave the facility.   If you would like to make diapers for the shelter they don’t need to be fancy, just a flat, foldable diaper that dries quickly, and please include diaper pins and a diaper cover or plastic pants.  If you want to send disposables, Wanblee needs sizes 3-6 only as they receive smaller sizes from other sources and all sizes are needed at the shelter.  The shelter operates on a very tight budget but will buy diapers for those that need them if they can, often the shelter staff will take out of their own pockets despite only making $10 an hour.

School supplies are needed at the shelter for kids starting a new school and at the youth center which has a tutoring program after school.   The school at Marty needs them as well for the Feather Store so students can “purchase” their supplies.  Toiletries are needed at all three areas and are always near the top of the list of needs.  Toiletries allow people to clean up and smell good and gives them a sense of dignity.  Lets face it, we all feel better about ourselves when we’re clean and look nice.

Games and other fun activities give kids constructive things to do with their time, keeps them off the street and from potentially getting into trouble. Exercise helps kids stay fit and healthy, is a good outlet for working off energy and anger and lowers their inherent risk of diabetes.  Kids learn the concept of winning and losing when playing games encouraging them to work harder to improve their skills.  Crafting allows children’s individuality to shine through while puzzles and games challenge their minds and get kids working together on problem solving while having fun.  The youth center does have computers and printers so the students could use printer paper for their school projects.  The Marty school needs general crafting supplies for certain classroom projects and to keep the kids occupied if recess is cancelled due to inclement weather.

We’re hopeful some of you like the new program and will help us build the Sew For Kids fund.  As previously stated you can certainly continue sending as before but we feel building a fund saves you money and allows bulk purchasing and buying perishables at local stores.  We don’t like to keep bugging our group about these needs constantly and having a fund we could responsibly draw on would allow us to fill the need when we get the call.

We’re so grateful for the generous help you’ve given the kids over the years. Whichever way you decide to help will make a difference in their lives and we thank you!

Projects For 2017


This is the monthly list of items that can be made or bought this year. These items can be sent year long  as most of the areas have storage and soon all will. We know that some of you have favorite items you like to make while others like to try out a new skill  or pattern so make the project of the month. With many helping, we usually get enough items sent for the project. We try to make the projects correspond to the season as well events taking place in the community such as the start of school or the Christmas party. We will let you know which areas are most in need of the items each month in our blogs.

Here  is the list of places to ship to. When you open that page you will see that there are tax forms you can download and fill out to receive a charitable donation. Include that form in your box with a SASE and ask the recipient to sign and mail back to you. If you want a thank you note back , also enclose a SASE to help with the mailing costs that take away from the project needs. Or add your email address  in a note to the recipient and they can also respond that way. If you order on line to send an item to an area, send as a GIFT and enclose your name/address on the gift card form as often the receivers do not know who sent the item. Save those receipts if you want a charitable tax donation.Thank you for your help with these issues. Also we suggest tracking items sent. UPS/Fedex and the USPS and most companies allow you to track your packages at no charge. Shipping larger quantities at one time in many instances is cheaper per pound thru Fedex/UPS and using the boxes at the PO with weight limits will save you money. If sending books, send media mail.

Because the cost of shipping is going up once again in mid January,  we are thinking about your pocket book and have decided to set up a monetary fund thru Lakota Friends Circle so when we get requests for items that can not be made, like formula, diapers, food for hungry families, or an emergency need, we would have some funding to buy in bulk thru some companies at a savings and also save on shipping costs  as once a certain dollar amount is reached, shipping is free. Also some of these items can be bought locally , such as toiletries or food bought at 18 cents per  pound at the food bank where 2 of the places we help shop for their program needs. Since some of you seem willing to give $5 or $10 a month regularly, or at times you are not sending a box, this fund would help that need. We feel it is worth a try and saves us from having to ask you for certain needs all the time. Some of you want to help the kids and do not craft and this is another way to help get needed items to the areas. No amount is too little. With many helping we will hopefully have some funds available to help that immediate need.  All monetary donations would be tax deductible as Lakota Friends Circle is a 501c 3 non profit.  We will highlight our list of items that need purchasing and information on to how to participate in the next blog.

Also to save you money, buy items on sale, shop at thrift or garage sales for items in GOOD condition. Review the donation guidelines here. Underwear and socks are the only items that need to be sent new. ( baby socks an exception) . Using up those stashes of material and yarn , will save you money. Letting people know that you craft for charity and asking for free donations that others will never use is another way to save you money. Having the list now allows you to buy needed items on sale .

January/February  Pants, Underwear and Socks


  1. Warm pants such as sweatpants or other with elastic waist in sizes 4T through 16/18 for boys and girls.  The domestic abuse shelter requested sweatpants as they can also be worn as pajamas, but if you have baby sizes or different styles such as jeans they can be sent too.  For those of you sewing pants good fabrics to use are sweatshirt fleece, polar fleece, corduroy, heavier knits and flannel. Jeans etc are welcome as well.
  2. New Underwear in sizes 3T through 16/18. Can use training pants too. – all areas need underwear
  3. Socks in toddler sizes through adult, some older children wear adult shoes – all areas need socks.
  4. Cloth Diapers and waterproof covering.  Good project for home sewers.

Women at the shelter

  1. Warm pants S-XL sweatpants or athletic type with elastic waist.  If you have jeans or warm tops they would be welcomed too.
  2. New Underwear in sizes 6-10 and sports bras S-Xl.  Bras can be gently used, sports type fit more women but traditional styles can be sent too.   
  3. Socks    

  Needs for families leaving the shelter

  1. Cutlery, cooking utensils such as spatulas, large spoons, can opener, etc.
  2. Dishes, cups, drinking glasses, non-breakable is best for kids.
  3. Pots and pans
  4. Sheets and blankets/quilts/afghans
  5. Towels, wash cloths, dish cloths and dish towels.
  6. pillows/pillowcases

When families leave the shelter they are given a pillow/pillowcase, toiletry bag, 2 sets of clothing per member and a blanket if they do not have them.  The above items help set up a new household for those not returning to their previous home. The shelter recently received a large quantity of baby clothing that will last for a while and another group is doing a baby drive so although we don’t have an “official” baby month you can include any baby items you may have any time you’re sending a box to the shelter.

 March/April   Summer Clothing


Shorts, capris, lightweight pants, leggings, shirts, dresses and skirts in sizes 4T to 16/18.  Baby sizes can also be sent.  Wanblee has a pool kids can use at the school so swimsuits are also needed.  Since no one can afford sunscreen, sun hats are needed too.

  1. Shoes – sandals, flip-flops, canvas type or other summer shoes.  New or gently used.

Women at the shelter

  1. Shorts, capris, pants and shirts in sizes 8/10 through 16/18, plus sizes also needed.
  2. Sandals, flip flops and other summer type shoes, larger sizes 9-11 needed too.

May/June  Bags and Bedding

  1. Bags – Totes, Backpacks/school bags, pencil cases, toiletry bags, duffels, diaper bags, messenger bags and purses.  Make totes ahead to be filled later with school supplies, Christmas gifts, toiletries, etc.   
  2. Blankets/afghans/quilts/receiving blankets – all sizes baby through full size.
  3. Sheets – crib through queen size.
  4. Pillowcases/pillows

July/August   School Needs

School supplies – paper, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, etc.

  1. School Clothing – Pants, shirts, skirts, light jackets or hoodies, etc. 4T through 16/18.
  2. Socks, Underwear, Pajamas –  Underwear must be new
  3. Shoes – Sturdier shoes are best as most don’t have winter boots.  All sizes.   

September/October  Warm Winter Gear

  1. Winter coats, hoodies, fleece pullovers, sweaters, ponchos for sizes infant through adult.
  2. Gloves, mittens, scarves, cowls, hats.  Get out your crochet hooks and knitting needles, sew them in fleece  or buy ready made.

November/December  Christmas

November to be used for getting gifts ready to be shipped after Thanksgiving and before parties begin in December.  Will publish a Christmas list in late summer/early fall.  Many of you work on items for this event all year long .

The monthly projects won’t change however, we may have additional requests from the areas we serve as we learn of their needs.  

We invite you to join us on our Yahoo group, Sew For Lakota Kids, and/or our Facebook group, Sew For Kids Volunteers. You will meet many talented and interesting people on the sites. The facebook group is a very active group so if you want to share patterns, sewing tips, hear about sales etc , we suggest  that you join that group. We welcome other charities and church groups to work with as well. While we started out as a sewing group, many of our wonderful members, knit and crochet so feel free to join us as there are months when those talents are very  much needed. We work together often with the Ravelry group ” For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” and the Halfknits  and will be doing more projects together with them this year.

Thank you all for your continuing support of the kids and their families on the Rez.

The Wanblee Christmas Party

Sorry we’re so late reporting on the Christmas party held December 10, pictures were received a couple of days after, but it’s been extremely difficult to catch up with Jerome for all the details.  He had many deliveries to make around the community from items  received from the monthly NAHA truck and Running Strong’s donation of coats, blankets and turkey/food boxes, plus he had 4 family members in the hospital at the same time so made several trips to Rapid City to check on them.  While there Jerome attended a meeting for Veteran’s rights, and although there’s always hope, he isn’t expecting anything to change for Native American veterans in the area.   In addition to everything else going on Jerome tried to spend at least 4 hours a day working on the community center and cut firewood if there was any time left in the day.  All the wood they had stockpiled since last summer had all been given out before the first of December.

Each year the tribe receives money from LIHEAP to help families with heating bills.  Funds this year only covered half the households on the Rez, the ones they did help received $150 towards propane, firewood or utility bills.  It’s still uncertain if there will be more funds available in 2017.   Jerome has been working with Troy Dukes, Director of Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, to get some propane deliveries to needy people in Wanblee and the surrounding communities.  Please visit their website, read about their heating project and consider making a small donation if you can.   If they have the funding each household is eligible for $150 in assistance each year.  All the warm coats, clothing and blankets you sent can mean the world to someone living in an unheated or poorly heated home.  Jerome also had calls from people that were out of food and money, one family had 8 children.  Luckily  Lakota Friends Circle had received some donations and along with money from Jerome’s pocket, they were able to get food to this family and others.

In November Jerome and Theresa and their friends, Mary and Bob Epps from Families Working Together, went to the University and made a presentation about the work they do in the Wanblee community and spoke of some of their needs.  They were grateful indeed when the University purchased a $1500 trailer for them that Jerome will use to make deliveries and they also donated a used dryer, furniture, and blankets and pillows for needy families.   More good news, Jerome has been asked by the tribe to help get a USDA grant project started on the Rez.  They would initially receive $150,000 to build greenhouses in some of the districts and start growing food crops to help feed local communities and also sell any surplus to outside markets.   A volunteer from Nebraska has offered to help with the agriculture program should they receive the grant.

Jerome had visitors/volunteers from Nebraska, Wisconsin and Minnesota that arrived just before the party.  Folks from Nebraska brought 200 hats, scarves and mittens for teens which was a nice surprise as they’re often the group that gets forgotten during the holidays.  Also visiting were the elves from Minnesota who came laden with gifts and ready to help Santa distribute all the toys.  Families Working Together arrived from De Forest, Wisconsin and brought 400 gifts their community had donated.   Sew For Kids teamed up with the Ravelry group “For The Children of Pine Ridge Reservation”  and donated an additional 600-800 gifts.

Although December 10 was a cold day with nighttime temps dipping to 4 degrees, about 400 kids and their families still came and lined up along the street to watch the Parade of Lights and eagerly wait for Santa’s float to come by.  They weren’t disappointed as there was a gift for everyone and home deliveries were made to those not able to attend due to health, lack of transportation or other reasons.   Hot chocolate, cider and cookies were served to those braving the elements.  Lakota Friends Circle provided funding for the candy and fruit bags for the kids,  made possible from money donated mostly by members of Sew For Kids and Pine Ridge Elders.  Unfortunately the community center wasn’t finished in time to have the party indoors, things move slowly on the Rez and they still need funding to complete the project.  Enjoy the pictures of the parade and gift giving below.
Everyone was so generous this year that Santa and his elves were able to share the wealth with 4 other communities in the area giving all those children a gift they certainly weren’t expecting.  We will be discussing helping other areas in addition to Wanblee for Christmas in 2017 since they have so much help from other groups.  The Wanblee fire department held a community bon fire December 17 where they served hot apple cider, hot dogs and s’mores.  FWT provided the food and brought a few gifts left from the party to give out.
Jerome and Theresa High Horse want to wish you all Happy Holidays and all the best in the New Year.  They extend their sincere thanks and gratitude for all the things you’ve done through the year to help their community.  They have many thank you notes to write so please be patient.  For those that didn’t include a SASE or an email address LFC has donated stamps to help.  If you included an email in your box Jerome will try to let you know your package arrived but it’s always best to track your packages online as Jerome and Theresa do the work of 20 people and do make mistakes.  Charitable donation forms can be found here, please send to Wanblee or other donation area along with a SASE.
Enjoy the pictures below of just some of the wonderful items SFK and the Ravelry group made for the Christmas party,  you certainly went above and beyond!  We are continually amazed and so thankful for the generosity you show the kids and their families!  Join us in 2017 for a year of friendship and fun!

Martin Community News

Cold winter weather is making its way across the country and is now in Pine Ridge and other areas of South Dakota we help.  Shelter Director, Kimmie Clausen, knows firsthand how bad the weather can get as she found herself stranded in Rapid City while shopping for kids in the Martin community she knew wouldn’t be getting anything for Christmas.  It’s hard for kids to believe in Santa or feel the magic of the season when they never receive a gift, some may even blame themselves for not being “good” enough.  There are about 800 Native Americans in Martin and Kimmie knows which families are most in need and has been able to help them throughout the year mostly because of your’s and the Ravelry group ” For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation’s ” generous donations.

She said students are now on their winter break and they’ll be holding a Christmas party at the shelter for residents and another at the youth center for the 75 kids that use the facility.   Kimmie has been holding things back from your boxes for gifts for the parties and although some may only get a pair of socks or some hotel toiletries, they will receive something.  She found 4 volunteers in the community to wrap presents and help with the party at the center.  They had plenty of Christmas ornaments at the center but no tree until Kimmie found one at the Boys and Girls Club on Pine Ridge for $12 which was a win-win as the center now has a tree and the money helps fund the club.  Kids will be using the center a lot over their break especially for food as they won’t be receiving their 2 meals a day at school and food at home is always scarce toward the end of the month.  The youth center is in the midst of the housing project in Martin and although anyone can use it, most of the kids are Native Americans.

Kimmie hopes that with a small grant she can pay current volunteers at the center $100 a week, which isn’t a lot but would help support their families.  The tribe has started a program that pays a small stipend for high school juniors and seniors and college students for helping in the community including the youth center.  Kimmie already has some art projects in mind and is working with the University of South Dakota to get a garden program up and running this spring.

The Sacred Shawl Society’s shelter is full to capacity.  For many the holiday season isn’t a happy time, some parents can’t afford gifts for their kids because of the higher heating and food bills of winter and if there are issues with drugs or alcohol their stress often turns violent.  The shelter serves all of Pine Ridge but will help anyone in an abusive situation.  Kimmie says after women receive counseling and heal from their traumas they’re ready to leave and move on but their children are sad and often cry because they don’t want to leave a place that has given them security and their Auntie Kim who’s always there to give them a hug and tell them how special they are.   They’ve recently finished the 2 rooms over the garage, each is furnished with 2 sets of bunk beds, a crib and a chair and will be used for single women or both rooms together can be used for larger families.  Electric heating will soon be installed thanks to a generous donation of $3000.  The downstairs bedrooms in the main part of the shelter don’t have heat so residents have to keep their doors open at night or they can sleep on the hide-a-beds in the main living area.  Your warm quilts and blankets are being put to good use and keep the clients snuggly and warm.  Blankets and pillows are left around the shelter for people to cuddle up in or for the kids to lie on the floor and watch a movie during quiet time. The shelter will host a Christmas party and dinner for current and past residents of the year and gifts will be given out which were saved from donations Sew For Kid’s volunteers have made throughout the year.

The Sacred Shawl Society recently hosted several, well attended, “Four Directions” walks in various communities around the Rez in honor and remembrance of women who have gone missing or have been murdered due to sex trafficking.   They also sponsored a workshop, attended by 50 girls from around the Rez, that educated them about sex trafficking, having respect for their bodies, living a healthy lifestyle and having healthy relationships.  A Public Health nurse was on hand to give the girls information about pregnancy and birth control.  The girls had a good time, listening to music and enjoying snacks as they got to know each other and for a special treat everyone received a souvenir T-shirt and makeup bag filled with lipstick, nail polish, mascara, etc. Volunteers showed the girls how to properly apply their new makeup.  Money may be tight but Rez teens are no different than teens elsewhere, they’re always concerned about their looks and experience peer pressure.

Most of your donated hats, mittens, scarves and warm coats have been given to those in need at the shelter, but since you all were so generous, Kimmie had enough to share with kids at the youth center and the local school.   In fact she was recently driving past Martin Elementary on a particularly cold day and saw kids outside playing without hats or mittens.  She shortly returned to the school with some of your warm donated items which they were thrilled to receive.

When asked for a list of needs Kimmie says the biggest one at the moment is underwear and socks.  For women:  bras, regular and sports type, in S-XL and underwear in sizes 5-10 and socks. Underwear has to be new but gently used bras are welcomed.  Socks and underwear for kids in sizes 4T to 10/12  which is the most common sizes for kids using the shelter.  You can send larger sizes if you have them but the smaller sizes are needed in larger quantities. Disposable diapers are always a need at the shelter in sizes 1-6.   A special thanks to Laurie Allen who is sending a large bag of diapers sizes 2 and 4 to the shelter each month. They do receive some diapers from Christian Relief but they are small quantities in a limited size range. Kimmie also assists women from the community who are in need of diapers. Kimmie would love to have more cloth diapers and plastic pants on hand so they can conserve their supply of disposables at the shelter and also to send home with women when they leave the shelter. Many have told Kimmie that having cloth diapers relieves some of the stress they feel when disposables and the funds to buy them run out at the end of the month. Lack of diapers has been shown to contribute to child abuse as babies that are uncomfortable may cry for long periods of time and parents already living under severe stress may  snap and abuse their babies.

BPA free plastic baby bottles and canned, powdered formula are also needed for those that aren’t breastfeeding at the shelter.  Sadly some parents in the community will give their babies Kool-Aid if they run out of formula as they don’t have the money to buy more which can run $32 a can at local stores.  Women from the community in need are only given half a can of formula and 12 diapers at a time but they can return if needed.  The last need is for warm sweat/athletic type pants for women, S-XL and  children in all sizes but especially 4T to 10/12.   Making pants is one of our projects on next year’s agenda but they have a need for them now and with post holiday sales coming up some of you may want to go shopping.   Thanks to the generosity of all of you and of Cyrilla Haverkamp’s local community pregnancy center’s donations, they now have enough clothing for infants through 3T for the moment. Thank you all for helping the babies and toddlers!  Kimmie has asked staff at the shelter to keep her better informed about items that may be getting low so we can make sure she has what she needs to help the women and children she serves.

Kimmie wants to extend a special thanks to all SFK volunteers and to everyone from the Ravelry group “For The Children of Pine Ridge Reservation”.  She is forever grateful to all of you for helping her help the women and children at the shelter.  The funding she receives only covers the bare necessities and without you there wouldn’t be toys for the kids, blankets, extra clothing, toiletries, and all the other things you send that makes life so much easier for families coming from abusive situations.  Kimmie found her camera and is hoping to post photos of the party to the Sacred Shawl site so be watching for those.  She has also received a small grant to make a short film about the shelter and the youth centers so take a look at how you can help them.

And finally we are so grateful and appreciate each volunteer that has given so generously of their time, talent and treasure to the shelter, youth center and the Martin community this past year.  We never tire of saying…..We Have The Best Volunteers!!!  We wish you all a safe and Happy Holiday Season !

Revisiting Our Marty Indian School Project

The semester will soon be coming to a close at Marty Indian Elementary school which is hard to believe but it seems the older I get the faster the days and weeks whiz by!  This past week the kids were undergoing school testing and we hope they did well and that the results will be used to help teachers identify potential problem areas and work with students to develop the skills they need.

We first blogged about the school and the project here and here.  It’s the first year we’ve worked with this school which is not on Pine Ridge Reservation where most of our projects are, but on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in southeast South Dakota.  School principal, Gina Curran, is originally from Wanblee which is one of our project areas.  We’ve attempted to work with the local school there, Crazy Horse, but didn’t receive the response we needed to further the program.  Gina contacted our group for help with her elementary students because, due to their remote location, they don’t receive a lot of help from organizations such as NAHA and Running Strong which brings in school supplies, backpacks, shoes, etc.  They receive funding to operate the school through State/Federal programs and provide basic school supplies for students at the beginning of the year, but when those run out it’s difficult to find funding to replenish those needs.  We would like to congratulate Gina as she’s also recently been hired as school Superintendent and she continues to work toward her PhD in education.


The Marty program began at the beginning of this school year with the assignment of 2 volunteers per class in grades K through 5.  Room parents are volunteers from our Sew For Kids Volunteers Facebook group and/or our Yahoo group who showed interest in supporting a class for the year.  We also have many volunteers that support the school by sending school supplies, crafts, food, clothing, etc. to Gina for the classrooms or for the Feather Store.  Volunteer, Barb Reinert, helped make the Halloween party this past October a little more fun by sending costumes to the school and many others provided snacks for the kids.  Another volunteer, Christine Widman, spent many hours searching thrift stores for games and toys for the kids.  Not only do we have great sewers and crafters but world class shoppers too!

Room parents contacted their respective teachers by phone or email to determine the needs of their students.  We learned right away some of the kids needed warm blankets and pillows and that many didn’t have a bed and slept on the floor.  Many students didn’t have adequate clothing, shoes or even a backpack.  It’s not unusual to have as many as 20 people, adults and children, living in a 2-3 bedroom home on the Rez where there is a critical housing shortage.  Household numbers usually rise in the winter when family members return home from their seasonal jobs off the Rez.  Kids living in overcrowded homes are often tired and ill prepared when coming to class as living with that many people makes it hard to find a quiet spot to sleep or do homework.  We learned that some kids don’t eat as much on weekends due to food shortages at home and they could really use extra food to put in their backpacks to make it until Monday.   Teachers have budgets to pay for classroom projects but after that money’s gone they will need to dig into their own pockets or do without.   The last need we learned of was toiletries.  One of the teachers told how excited kids were to get their own personal bottle of shampoo, bar of soap and toothbrush and toothpaste.   Some of our group made and filled toiletry bags to give to students.  Unfortunately the school is currently experiencing an outbreak of head lice and had to purchase $600 in lice removal kits to distribute to families.  The school will shampoo students hair if parents request it.  Shampoo is needed as are many other toiletries. Hopefully families have hot water in which to launder kids hats, pillows, etc. to help stop the spread.

Parents don’t usually visit the school except for parent/teacher conferences but Gina is setting a goal that they come in at least once a month, she wants parents to be involved in their child’s education.  Having the Feather Store is one way of getting parents in to the school as they also receive feathers they can use to shop in the store.  Gina recently wrote, ” The students get clothes and shoes from the Feather store. The generosity from this group had really helped us to offer basic necessity items that our students and families need. We recently had a father find himself shoes in the store! He was very happy to get them! So thank you for everything this group does to help our students! ”

Before kids left for the long Thanksgiving weekend the school sent them home with warm clothing, underwear and a warm coat, if they needed one, from the Feather Store regardless if they had the feathers to buy them.  Many thanks to those of you that sent in all those warm winter items, please continue to send them through the next few months if you have them.  The school had also set aside some funds to buy food for care packages for the neediest families so they would have something to eat over the long weekend.

We also received another note from Gina in mid November,  “Hi Carol!  So this year we would like to have a special “Christmas Store” at our school.  The kids earn feathers daily for attendance, kindness, hard work, meeting goals etc… The store is a time for them to buy something special for family members. Holiday items are not the only thing we accept. Mugs, frames, unopened lotion/bubble bath, toys, cookbooks, any and all gently used items you have no use for and want to pass on! **Especially dad/brother gifts are usually in short supply. Thanks to all for past donations, the kids enjoy buying and wrapping gifts every year. Please share the message to others you know that may be interested.”

Although it was a little short notice our group responded by  helping stock the Feather Store with gift items kids could purchase for their family members.  We had a program similar to this in my Illinois community for a non-profit and we’re thinking it might be a possibility in some of our other assistance areas.  Please keep this project in mind for next year as you shop thrifts, garage sales and all those post holiday sales.  SFK member, Penny Nickols, lives north of the school a few hours and decided to deliver her donations in person.  While there, Gina gave her a tour of the school and she took some wonderful pictures that she shared with us.

The school is gearing up for their annual Christmas program.  Another generous group is donating a small gift to each student that will be given out on the 16th, which also begins their two week winter break.  Room parents are sending gifts to each of their students and some of the ones we’ve heard about are books, stuffed animals, small games, crafts, blankets, pillows, pillowcases, hats and mittens, scarves, toiletries, snacks, school supplies and even personally monogrammed towels with matching washcloth and a bar of soap from Carol Austin for the third grade class.  Thanks Carol for your thoughtful gift!

Many of the children depend on the breakfast and lunch they receive at school so Gina worries they may not have enough to eat over the holidays.  They will make food bags for the students from the donations they’ve received which isn’t a lot but at least it will help.  You have all been so generous already that we hate to ask and wouldn’t unless it was really important, but if we could all make a small  donation to Marty Indian School c/o Gina Curran we could help combat hunger over the holidays. Your gift is tax deductible, please  state it is for food for the holiday break.  The last part of the month, at any time of the year, is the hardest time for families as food stamps are running out and when kids are home and not supplemented during the day with school food, the food supply is used up even faster.  Many homes are cold and if you’re not properly dressed it takes more calories to maintain your body temperature.

Marty Indian School
c/o Gina Curran, Prinicpal
PO Box 187
Marty, SD 57361
We want to personally thank all the room parents……. Darlene Dean, DeAnne Mauk, Judy Cohen, Crystal Bowen Lawson, Janet Schnurlein, Carol Austin,  Ruthie Gruel, Diannah Perez, Virginia Uhlig, Carol Binnington,  Donna Snider, Angela Billich,  as well as those who have so generously helped all the school programs…..Christine Widman, Ruth Gates, Cynthia Dodge, Barb Reinert, Deidra Ouellette Finch Heyne, Beulah Lindberg, Marg Hrabchak, Kerry Robertson, Nancy Stillwagon, Joan Deaver and her group, Vicki Sick, Deanna Joyce Williams,  Laurie Allen, Stacy Campbell-Kraft, Brenda Budd, Penny Nickols, Judy Harig, Jill Santiago Doane, and many others.  We always fear leaving out someone that has given so generously so if you are one of those we forgot, just know it wasn’t intentional, we value each and every one of you that give of your time, talent and above all your caring hearts!

I also want to thank Kat Baacke and her group the Halfknits for making and sending warm blankets for each student in my class.  Kat and her group have sent countless numbers of afghans and blankets to the Rez, including Wanblee and the shelter in Martin.  They have been helping keep kids and their families warm on the Rez for many years.

Thank you as always  from Sew For Kids for making a difference in the lives of children.

Kids at work.


What’s Happening in Wanblee?

November’s here, too soon for us as we still have so many things to do before the holidays arrive. Sew For Kids, along with many other groups, are beginning to send gifts to Wanblee for the annual Christmas party.  With over 600 kids and 85 elders to provide for there’s still plenty of work to do and we’re confident this year will be just as successful as previous years in providing gifts for the kids. Elves have been working overtime in the doll factory to get nearly 100 dolls ready for Santa to give out to little girls. Others are busy making/buying other toys as well as warm hats, scarves, mittens and blankets to help children stay warm this winter.  We’ve heard over and over from volunteers that although they’re extremely busy they actually feel relaxed instead of stressed because they’re having so much fun dressing dolls, quilting, knitting and crocheting!  We’ll be sharing plenty of pictures and more information once our work is near completion.

Jerome High Horse recently asked if our group might be able to help a homeless father and son with some needs. The father suffers from heart failure and both he and his son are unemployed which is common on the Rez. Their days were spent wandering in search of food and a place to sleep for the night so they could get a little rest and escape the elements. While Youthworks volunteers were in Wanblee helping with projects over the summer, the plight of these two men came to their attention and some of them went home to Minnesota and found a trailer they could make into a home for the men.  They worked with the tribe to find a tract of land for the trailer which was delivered the last week of October. They’re still waiting for water and electric service but a wood stove and solar panels have been installed, an outhouse built and the tribe has provided a large container of water for them to use while they wait for a permanent water source.  Sew For Kids and the Ravelry group, “For the Children of Pine Ridge“, sent lots of wonderful things for their new home including dishes, pots and pans, linens, towels, warm items, a coffee pot, food and many other items. We’ll be sending clothing and shoes when we receive sizes from Jerome.  A very special thanks to all of you that took the time to help make this trailer into a home for these two men, they both had tears in their eyes when they saw what people had done for them.  These are the notes Jerome sent:

10-22-2016- This is a great day, they were very excited when we picked them up.

10-24-2016 – This morning David came to see us.  He expressed this is a dream, I woke up at two in the morning, wood stove was warm, made coffee, cooked deer meat and potatoes, and don’t have to worry where to go today.  This is a grace of God and a great blessing.

We thank everyone for there sponsorship, two homeless Indian people now have a home.
A big heartfelt thanks.   Jerome

Jerome recently traveled to Rapid City where he was a guest speaker at a conference meeting of the group Rocky Mountain Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (RMASFAA) who each year chooses a charity to support.  This year’s recipient was none other than Sew For Kids!  After the talk Jerome was presented with a check for $650, schools supplies and some clothing which included new winter coats. We’re so honored to have been chosen and will use the gift to help the children of Pine Ridge. Lakota Friends Circle, our umbrella organization, will be handling the funds and since hunger is such a huge issue we’ve decided to purchase a freezer for the new community building.   Having a freezer allows the center to become a local food bank and receive food deliveries directly from the Rapid City food bank.  Instead of handing out all the food as soon as it arrives, as they currently do, the freezer allows them the luxury of keeping perishable food until it’s really needed.  Currently the High Horses drive to Rapid City for pick up, make the trip back to Wanblee (200+ miles round trip), sort, box and deliver the food to recipients, all in the same day!  We still need to find funds to purchase a refrigerator but that is a project for another day. Again a BIG THANKS to RMASFAA for their generous donation!!

The Halloween party was held Saturday, October 29th at the Kennedy Hall with 150 kids and their parents attending.  They made fry bread and 40 pounds of chili in the new crock pots and electric roasters recently donated by members.  Game prizes included cereal, soda, stuffed animals, popcorn, chocolates and cake for the cake walk.  Fifty adults received door prizes.  Thanks to everyone who sent prizes or supplies for the party, you helped make the evening enjoyable for the kids.

For Thanksgiving, an outside group related to Youthworks is planning to visit Wanblee for the holiday and serve dinner to the community. Hopefully either Running Strong or the tribe will also provide a holiday food box with turkey for families in the community and surrounding areas as they’ve done in years past.  Food insecurity is common on the Rez so receiving a box of food could give families a few extra meals to eat.  Another Youthworks group from Pierce, Nebraska recently brought a truck load of warm winter clothing and furniture.  Youthworks volunteers are on the Rez from June through August each year and although they serve other areas on the Rez, many prefer to return to Wanblee as they always have fun projects to work on and have developed friendships with many of the local people.

The work on the community center continues and although not completed it’s still being used to sort and box NAHA and food deliveries for families in need.  Someone has donated a wood stove to heat the building until utilities are connected.  They could use the Kennedy Center but there’s a $50 fee for each event and they feel that money could be better spent elsewhere.  Once completed the building will provide a place to hold children and family programs, such as cooking and sewing classes, homework help, movie nights, parties, etc.  It will also contain laundry facilities, a small library, food bank, a room for sorting and storing deliveries, and provide lodging for volunteers working in the community.  They will need our help getting resources for their programs which we’ll include in next year’s projects.  Jerome is still looking for funding to complete the building and has two speaking engagements in Nebraska and one in Chicago.  If you would like to help with the building fund, please visit the Families Working Together website to make a donation.

Jerome and the Woodchucks are busy chopping and delivering wood  to needy families. This past summer they cleaned out many creek beds on farmers’s ranches that were filled with dead wood and are still busy gathering as much as they can before the winter snows arrive.    Gas money is needed to make deliveries of wood and food to those families that can’t make it into town so if you can make a small donation (no amount too small) to Lakota Friends Circle it would help ensure people aren’t hungry or cold this winter.  Distances are far on the Rez and many folks can’t afford a car or gas so depend on others to help them.  Thank you for any help you’re able to give!

If you would like to help provide Christmas gifts for children or elders please send to the High Horses at this address.  In addition to toys, warm hats, gloves, scarves, coats and blankets are always needed to make it through the cold winters on the Rez. Many homes are without heat for at least some of the winter so these things are vital for babies, children and the elderly, the most vulnerable to freezing temperatures.  Please refer to the previous blog for more information about the Christmas party.

Sew For Kids is now officially a program under the 501c3 of Lakota Friends Circle.  We’ve been working together on many joint projects over the last two years and it seemed like a good match.  We decided not to form our own 501c3 as there were other charity groups we could work with, which the IRS encourages, and we felt the money that would’ve been spent forming the charity could be better used helping people on the Rez.  Until a few weeks ago SFK was a program under Hearts of the Sacred Spirit and we want to thank director, Troy Dukes, for allowing us to be under his umbrella. Hearts does wonderful work as well and we’ll continue to advocate for funding for their programs.  Hearts, in addition to other projects, raises money to keep people warm in the winter by purchasing wood, propane, wood stoves, and paying down utility bills. They help those  in need only once each winter and assist people in Wanblee and other districts across the Rez.  Please visit their website here and make a donation if you can.  Thank you.

We can always use more help so we invite you to join us on our Yahoo group, Sew For Lakota Kids, and/or our Facebook group, Sew For Kids Volunteers. You will meet many talented and interesting people on the sites. We welcome other charities and church groups to work with as well.  Thank you all for your continuing support of kids and their families on the Rez.




Christmas, a Time Of Giving

It won’t be long before our beautiful fall weather is replaced with winter’s minus degree wind chills, howling winds and winter storm warnings.  Stores have been promoting Christmas since September and we’re already hearing about “black friday” sales.  The winter season changes things drastically for people living on the Rez.  Roads become impassable and houses are cold as people struggle to chop wood for their stoves or find the money to buy propane and pay their electric bill.  Nutritious food and warm clothing and blankets are needed to make it through the winter and are hard to come by for many.

Christmas is a time kids on the Rez look forward to each year, if they haven’t received anything special thus far, they might just get lucky and get a gift from Santa as he makes his rounds.  We support two parties every year but Christmas is a magical time for kids and the one we focus special attention on as it also happens to occur in winter when kids need our help the most.  We’re fortunate to have groups like Ravelry’s “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation“, Yahoo’s “Pine Ridge Elders“, Families Working Together, Lakota Friends Circle the Halfnits and Hearts of the Sacred Spirit to work with as we all try to make this celebration special for children and their families.

The  date for the party is  December 10th. Jerome is just trying to get thru the Halloween party and still needs to meet with locals that host the Parade of Lights and of course Santa to decide the time when he and his elves should arrive with their gifts and holiday cheer to the area. The party will be held in the newly constructed community building and although it won’t be fully completed, it will provide a warm place for the party.  They will be serving cookies, hot chocolate, coffee and cider.  They’re asking for donations of hot chocolate, nuts, candies, coffee and popcorn (not microwave) to make popcorn balls, which can be sent to the High Horse’s.  Kids and teens infant to age 18 will receive a gift with younger ones getting toy items and hopefully everyone getting warm hats, scarves and gloves, including elders.  SFK members are currently working on blankets and afghans to give out to those that need one, at the party. Throughout the year Theresa saves things from the trucks to make gift bags for the elders at Christmas, some years are better than others it all depends on donations.  They are expecting 85 elders this year.

They are estimating between 500 and 600 kids might attend as there are over that number in the local and surrounding schools.  We’ve asked for a breakdown of ages and gender so we can plan accordingly, but if we don’t get those numbers we’ll need to concentrate more on gender neutral gifts.  In previous years the younger kids and girls tend to get the most donations, while older boys  in the 12-18 range seem to get the least.  This year we would like the gifts wrapped or bagged with age and gender attached to the outside of the package to make sorting easier for Jerome and Theresa as they will be busy with other party preparations. Please keep your gifts simple and choose ones that can be used many times, and discourage sending battery operated toys unless they’re still playable without them.  Gifts in the $5-10 range  is what we’re aiming for and you can make or buy a reusable bag to make your own unique gift, suggestions are below:

  • Sports Equipment – soccer balls, basketballs, baseballs/mitts, jump ropes, Nerf balls, etc.
  • Arts and Crafts – drawing paper, “how to draw” books, writing journals, pencils and pens, markers, crayons, scissors, construction paper, glue, craft and jewelry kits, beads and supplies.
  • Toys – coloring/activity books, puzzles, card or board games, cars and trucks, dolls, etc.
  • Books – board books for the little ones and books for both genders up to late teens.
  • Bedding – pillows and pillow cases, blankets/quilts/afghans, sleeping bags.
  • Teens – toiletry kits containing soap, shampoo, deodorant, etc. hair items, jewelry and nail polish for girls, flashlights and manicure kits for both, baseball caps, hackey sacks for boys.
  • Accessories/clothing – warm hats, scarves, gloves or mittens, socks and underwear, pajamas.
  • Babies – Blankets, safe infant toys, board books, warm sleepers, buntings.

The age ranges are 0-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, and 13 up.  We hope to have estimates for each age and gender group which we’ll post when received.  Please add your gifts to the list here so we can see what is still needed.

Kimmie Clausen, director at the Sacred Shawl Society’s shelter in Martin, is planning to invite all the families served at the shelter this past year and current families staying at the shelter for a Christmas dinner and tree trimming party where they will give small gifts to women and children to make the season special for them. Kimmie also saves some of your donations throughout the year to give out during the holidays, but small gift items for the kids are always appreciated. She will also host a party for the kids that use the My Space youth center in Martin where dinner will be served along with each guest receiving a goody bag to take home. Kimmie feels this is the best way to celebrate the holiday as there are just too many kids who use the center for each one to receive an individual gift.  There are about 15 people in the community they really worry about so they will go through donations we’ve previously sent to see what they can help them with. Your donations are critical for the continued operation of the shelter so please help them as you can and add a few fun things for the kids and anything warm to your next box if possible. Their stock of blankets to give out to clients leaving the shelter are down to four so they really need blankets for the upcoming winter season as do ALL the areas we help. Items can be sent here for both the Sacred Shawl Society and My Space Youth Center. Just mention where you want it to go. Gift giving for our newest assistance area, The Marty Indian School in Marty, SD, will be handled by room parents but donations of healthy snack food items, warm clothing (4T to 16/18), toiletries, blankets, school supplies and toys for the Feather Store are always appreciated and can be sent here.
Please send monetary donations for food to Lakota Friends Circle for the Christmas party in Wanblee, to Wild Horse Butte Community Development Center for the parties at the shelter and the youth center, state which party you wish to support if there’s a preference.  That information can be found here.
If you want to work with us to help the kids, join us here on the facebook group ,Sew For Kids Volunteers or the yahoo group, Sew for Lakota Kids.
Thanks to all our volunteers at Sew For Kids, readers of our blog and all the groups helping to make this yearly event a successful one for the kids. You are all their very “special” Santa, Ho Ho Ho!!