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.
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”!
Its been a while since our last blog mainly because I’ve been busy here in CA with local charity projects and have been waiting until there were more definite Christmas plans to post. Jerome and crew have been busy with the Halloween party and other projects so was glad to finally connect with them as Christmas is rapidly approaching. We’re hoping they receive other help as our small group can’t possibly supply everything needed for the 500+ kids attending the party. SFK “elves” haven’t been sitting around twiddling their thumbs waiting for info, they’ve been busy sewing clothes and quilts for the 80+ dolls heading to the Rez, making match games, play mats, tutus, hats and scarves, PJ’s, and putting together gift bags for boys and girls and some of the older kids filled with goodies.
The Halloween party was held Saturday night with 300 kids and 100 adults attending. They had plenty of food from the locals and groups that help the area. Kids dressed up in costumes that came in on the trucks or whatever they could put together from home. Pillows and pillowcases were given out to those who hadn’t received them in the past, Theresa said some of them were so happy to get one they immediately snuggled up with it. Thanks to everyone who sent pillows and pillowcases for the drive, kids always love getting them.
The home rehab project for the two veterans we told you about in the last blog has been finished. This project was a group effort starting with the grant written by Anne Fields from Lakota Friend’s Circle, Home Depot for the supplies through the grant, Bob and Mary Epps from Families working Together, volunteers from MN and the local community including the High Horse’s. The men are overjoyed with their newly repaired home and are still finding it hard to believe that complete strangers would come together and help them. Others in the community heard about the work and are asking to have their homes repaired too, which could be accomplished if more funding becomes available.
Theresa spent the last few days submitting 188 energy assistance forms to the tribal LIHEAP program that helps families get through the winter, usually a $250 allotment and a little more for the elders. It’s not a lot but helps, they can use the money for wood, propane or utilities. Energy costs are down and a family can now get a propane delivery of $125 instead of the $200 required last year which was hard for most families to come up with. This will also help Hearts of the Sacred Spirit (our “mother” group) with their heating program allowing them to help more families with the reduced costs. Please check out their energy program and give if you can, they help on Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations.
Cold weather has already made it’s arrival on the Rez and the time for making and sending warm coats and winter gear is NOW! Coats, gloves/mittens, hats, scarves/gaiters, warm clothing, blankets/afghans, socks and boots in all sizes are needed in Wanblee and at the shelter to make it through the frigid days ahead. Babies and toddlers need warm clothing, sleep sacks, sleepers, PJ’s, blankets, sweaters, hats, and socks. Most of us have plenty of socks and since they’re relatively cheap we probably can’t imagine people not having them. I just read the one item homeless shelters never get enough of are socks and can attest to that as I see the homeless here in southern California sitting on the sidewalk with bare feet. While we don’t have the severe cold of SD it’s still too cold for bare feet in the morning and winter months.
The shelter is ready to open! The paperwork has been completed, the bank account opened with monies received from the grants, positions have been or are currently being filled, and safety inspections and repairs are completed. Kimmie Clausen has spent countless hours applying for grants and it has finally paid off. While the grants may not cover all the expenses and they will always be looking for funding, they now have the means to start helping women and children that so desperately need it. The monies aren’t there to hire a full staff so the Director and some local volunteers will fill the void until more funding becomes available. Although our group doesn’t help with the day to day cost of running the shelter our volunteers were instrumental in getting the shelter ready to open by supplying the things that were not in their budget. We sent pots and pans, bakeware, cutlery, utensils, dishes and small appliances for the kitchen; sheets, blankets, mattress pads, and pillows for the bedroom, towels, bathmats, and toiletries for the bath; toys, books, cd’s, and games for entertainment, and so many other things such as food, clothing, shoes, underwear, diapers, personal care and safety items, etc.
The shelter is in need of socks, underwear and PJ’s for babies, children and women as well as warm winter gear including coats, hoodies, hats, gloves, etc. Most of the kids coming to the shelter will be infant to age 12 although teens up to age 16 are accepted. Sizes from 3 months through kids 14/16 are needed most and smaller adult sizes can be used by teens. Women’s clothing is needed in sizes 3-4X, underwear 8, 9, and 10, and sock sizes 9-11. The shelter will take care of their clients first but shares excesses with the community as recently happened when a grandmother taking care of 14 kids, both grandchildren and foster kids, needed clothing so they could attend school. Since our group was so generous in sending needs for the shelter and the fact they haven’t opened yet, allowed the director to give clothing to the kids saying “it was the right thing to do and they needed to be in school learning”.
Kimmie also wrote and received grants for computers and other needed items for the youth center in Martin and is working on finding funds for building affordable housing for women leaving the shelter with nowhere to go. We’ll share more on those projects as we receive updates. Kimmie is one busy lady, we’re not really sure when she sleeps but she loves what she’s doing and sees so many needs in Martin and around the Rez that need addressing.
Now on to Christmas. The Christmas party is a big deal on the Rez, it’s the one time of the year parents want their children to receive something special to celebrate the season. Think back to your childhood (if you can!) when you just couldn’t wait to get up Christmas morning and see what Santa had left you under the tree. This doesn’t happen in most homes on the Rez which is why the High Horse’s and Kimmie want to make the day special for the kids.
The shelter plans to serve a Christmas dinner and has arranged to purchase food from the SD food bank for 18 cents a pound and will deliver it which helps their budget. They’ll have a Christmas tree too so if you have safe lights and ornaments please send, decorating a tree would be a great activity for the families to do and would add some holiday cheer. For kid’s gifts they’ve asked for hat/mitten/scarf sets and since we don’t know the ages that will be there we’ll plan on sending a few in each size to fit ages 1-16. Other things to send that will stay at the shelter are coloring books and crayons, books, workbooks, puzzles, games, dolls, dishes, Lego and other building toys, etc. SFK will be making “comfort bags” on an ongoing basis to give to traumatized children arriving at the shelter. We would like to add a book, stuffed animal and a blanket to each bag. If you want to help with that project send the bag and contents or just donate the items you have and the staff can make up the bags there. Please send items at the Sacred Shawl Society address.
Wanblee is expecting 500+ kids at their party on December 18th. They will be serving cookies and hot chocolate instead of a full meal since there’s a Thanksgiving dinner held for the community a few weeks prior. The party will not be held in the Kennedy hall this year but they will still have the “Parade of Lights”. Gifts will be given out to children along the parade route or delivered to their homes by Jerome, Theresa and other volunteers. They’re asking for gifts for kids infant through age 12, although gifts for teens are welcome as they rarely receive one. Each child will receive one gift and a treat bag filled with fruit, nuts and candy. Some gift ideas to send include warm hats, mittens/gloves, scarves, warm clothing, socks, underwear, toiletries including toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc.; non-battery toys, dolls, trucks, games, coloring books/crayons, art supplies, jewelry kits, books, hair items for teen girls, baseball type hats for teen boys, balls of all types, bike tire repair kit, Frisbee, etc. Healthy food items such as nuts, granola bars, low sugar fruit snacks, etc. are good too. They have asked that you put each gift in a plastic bag and label it with gender and an approximate age. If you want to make a contribution towards refreshments and the treat bags send your donation to Lakota Friends Circle here. Please send parcels here.
They’re also hoping to deliver a blanket and new towel and washcloth set to each of the 20 elders aged 70+ in the community. If you can help out with this need they would so appreciate it.
Please join the SFK elves in making this holiday season extra special for our Rez kids! As always THANKS from Sew For Kids.
October is here and time to start on projects for the holidays and the upcoming winter season. There’s plenty of news to share, too much for one blog, so this one will focus on Wanblee and the next on the shelter in Martin. SFK volunteers have been busy sewing for our “pajama party” and have sent 159 pairs of PJ’s, 30+ pair of knitted/crocheted slippers, 85+ pillowcases and 84 new pillows to Wanblee and the shelter in Martin. All the pillows and most of the pillowcases and PJ’s went to Wanblee for the party, the shelter received the slippers and some pajamas for younger children. We’ll be sending more PJ’s to them as will be an ongoing need since kids will be taking them home when they leave. There’s still plenty of time to finish up any projects you’re working on as they won’t be given out until the end of the month. Here are a sample of some of the items that were sent. There are many people to thank for this project’s success.
Jerome and Theresa planned to have a special pajama/pillow party at the Kennedy Center, but decided to save the $50 rental fee for another day and combine their party with the Halloween party. A group of local volunteers got together and wanted to host a Halloween party for the kids on the 30th and asked the High Horses if they would help them find the resources. Whenever there is mention of doing something for the kids Jerome and Theresa just can’t say no. The group agreed to do all the work which includes preparing food, setting up booths, planning games and organizing the community “zombie walk” and of course the clean up afterwards. NAHA sent costumes on their last truckload so they’ll be given them out to kids without one or to those who’ve outgrown their old one. Sew For Kids’ main party commitments to the community are Christmas and Easter. We’re posting the needs list for the Halloween party for those that may wish to do something extra. Our volunteers do so much already and we don’t anyone getting burned out from too many requests.
Spook House/Carnival – October 30, 2015. Above are photos of last year’s party. What will we see this year?
The menu is healthy and will be fruit and veggie cups, PBJ sandwiches, cheese sticks for those with peanut allergies and bottled water.
Food Needs: sandwich/snack Bags, plastic fruit/veggie cups, bottled water, peanut butter, jelly, bread, cheese sticks. Produce for the cups: apples, grapes, bananas, oranges, snap peas, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, celery.
Booths Prizes: Food such as crackers, granola bars, etc., small toys, stuffed animals, pillows, etc.
Halloween Decorations: any kind
Obviously we can’t send fresh produce through the mail so Jerome suggested those that want to help with the food could send a small donation to Lakota Friend’s Circle through PayPal or by personal check. They would like to purchase the food in bulk at Sam’s club in Rapid City to save money as they’re expecting 200-300 people. Please send your donations here and state that it’s for food for the Halloween party. LFC is a 501c3 so you will receive a tax donation form.
Even the Grandma’s love going through the booths so this is definitely a day for all ages to enjoy. We’re excited to see more people in the community getting involved with projects and more organizations hosting events such as the Fire Department’s 4th of July party and the Ambulance Service’s movie nights, NAHA and local ranchers too. Now the High Horses can be spectators and enjoy the event or at least have more of a supervisory role. We’re also thrilled to see them making healthy food choices for the kids. Fruit and veggie cups were served at the Easter party and the kids loved them so they wanted to have them again.
The Woodchucks returned home from their summer jobs off the Rez and were raring to go when Jerome mentioned a rancher needed a lot of wood cleared from his creek beds. So last weekend, before any surprise winter storms hit, 30 men and women headed 50 miles north to gather, cut and load trucks with firewood. Theresa and her crew arrived around noon to serve a hearty meal to the hungry workers. Some of the elders have been calling about propane and wood as the Rez heating program doesn’t start until mid October. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit’s heating program follows the same schedule so the firewood will help keep people warm until those programs begin. Please visit Hearts website for more information on their heating program and how you can help, they are a 501c3 so donations are tax deductible. Wanblee is one of the communities they serve but since they depend solely on private donors we’ll have to wait and see how much assistance they can give this year. Most of you already know but for the newcomers, SFK is a special program under Hearts which makes all your donations through us tax deductible as well. We’ll be posting more information on heat for the Rez as we receive it.
Anne Fields, Director of Lakota Friends Circle, recently applied for and won a $5000 Home Depot award! Now Jerome and his local crew, Bob and Mary from “Families Working Together” and a group of volunteers from Minnesota can begin work on the home of two men who’ve been living with a leaky roof for years and a bathroom with the outside wall missing. Bob has a construction company in Wisconsin and through some negotiations with Home Depot was able to stretch the original award to include repairing the bathroom at the same time. This will be the 3rd home that FWT has rehabbed over the last 2 years. The homeowners, one a disabled veteran and the other on dialysis, both have jobs helping a local rancher and earn $20 a day. There’s little money left over from their small income to pay for home repairs as they have to buy gas for the trip to work and the dialysis clinic. They are two very happy campers knowing that soon they’ll be living in a much warmer house, with a bathroom wall!
The Sewing Circle isn’t meeting formally in the Kennedy Hall because of the $50 user fee, but 6 women are sewing items for their homes, families and to sell, thanks to the machines and materials provided by this group. With winter rapidly approaching they want to make blankets so batting, fabric and thread are needed. A 97 year old elder with mobility problems wants to make blankets for those in need in the community and has asked for donations of fabric so she can cut out squares to piece together for quilt tops. We’re sure she could also use backing, batting and thread. Lets help this dear lady out, still giving at such a young age! Items can be sent here to the High Horses.
Last month one of our members, Darlene Dean, and her husband took a truckload of items to Wanblee. It’s a 12 hour drive from their home and this is the second year they’ve made the trip. The High Horses were delighted to hear they were coming, “such good people”, Jerome said. They collected loads of donated items from their community with the help of their two daughters, making it a family project. Darlene is a wonderful seamstress and makes really great things for the kids. Food, clothing, books, toys, bedding, household items and plenty of other things were on the truck and delivered to the High Horses, by 6:00 that same evening everything had been given out to those in need. Included in some of those boxes were 62 pairs of PJ’s for the kids Darlene had been collecting all year which certainly gave a boost to our PJ project numbers. While they were visiting, two people called the High Horses that were hungry and out of food and two elders called needing propane. Jerome told of a local man that recently took in a 10 year old boy needing a home but didn’t have any clothing for him. Thanks to all the donations the Dean’s delivered, they were able to provide clothing for the boy and help with some of his other needs. Many thanks and appreciation for all the hard work the Dean family did this year and for making the long drive to personally deliver it! .
One of the projects for this month and the next 2 months is warm clothing, outerwear and accessories for kids ages 0-16 for Wanblee and for women and children 0-16 for the shelter in Martin. Winter is the time when people are most vulnerable and susceptible to hypothermia, more so on the Rez where many live in cold, poorly insulated homes, some even missing doors and windows. They need our help now more than the rest of the year so get out your sewing machines, knitting needles or looms and crochet hooks and start making hats, mittens, cowls, scarves, socks, sweaters, slippers, blankets, sleep sacks for babies and anything else warm you can think of. Check your closets, garage sales and thrift stores for warm coats, hoodies and sweaters and send them to the Rez. If you have any boots, they would be most appreciated as few can afford to buy them, new or used in good condition are always welcome. Those who work out in the elements in the harsh weather would be grateful for a pair of warm boots to wear. These items can also be made and given out as Christmas gifts.
The Halfknits sent several warm blankets to the shelter as did Beulah Lindberg and Marilyn Lee Bellonci . These 2 talented ladies take squares from members of the Pine Ridge Elders group and turn them into warm blankets for the people. Vicki Sick also finished off an afghan she found at a thrift store and turned it into a useful blanket.
We are so thankful for all the volunteers who help out the Rez and our Wanblee and Shelter projects….. Sew For Kids Volunteers, Sew For Lakota Kids Yahoo group, Pine Ridge Elders Yahoo group, For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation Ravelry group, Lakota Friends Circle, Halfknits, Hearts of the Sacred Spirit and Families Working Together…..each using their talents and much more to help those less fortunate. No one group or person can do it alone but together we can make a difference so we encourage you to check out these groups and join with us in our mission to make life a little brighter and happier for the children and their families on Pine Ridge.
The next blog will have the latest shelter news and more information about Christmas projects for both Wanblee and the shelter, we’re still waiting for details. Many, many thanks to each and every one of you for being the special people you are and for having such compassionate and generous hearts. You have made a huge difference to so many on the Rez and have especially made Jerome and Theresa’s and Kimmie’s jobs of helping their people so much easier. We simply can never thank you enough, although we’ll keep trying!
Summer’s winding down, days are getting shorter and temps are getting cooler at night which means fall is right around the corner. Children are back in school and like many kids across the country get up early in order to catch the bus for the long ride to school. Many people on the Rez live in rural areas and schools (tribal, public, private) are a long distance from their homes which means some children will spend over an hour on the bus every day. Many kids, especially the little ones, sleep on the bus until they arrive at school to get those extra ZZZ’s they still need. They also have to arrive early enough to have breakfast before classes begin. Nutrition plays a key role in a child’s ability to learn and some kids will arrive at school having had little or nothing to eat the night before so the breakfast they receive at school is vital for both their physical and mental health.
Because many households on the Rez can have 12 or more residents, kids don’t necessarily get a good night’s sleep so many are habitually tired. Most kids don’t have their own bedroom and may be sleeping in the living room on the floor with or without a shared mattress. There’s a lot of noise in homes with adults staying up or coming in late so it’s difficult to fall or stay asleep. I noted on visits to the Rez, that in many homes people are up late into the night and early morning hours. Many kids don’t own pajamas so will sleep in their street clothes or wear a T shirt and underwear to bed which is fine in the summer but not warm enough for the harsh winters of SD in the poorly heated and insulated homes most kids live in. Shared body heat from the family bed helps but isn’t the same as having a warm pair of pajamas and a blanket. If there is no mattress and you’re sleeping directly on the floor it’s doubtful you have a pillow.
We want to help kids stay warm this winter and get the best night’s sleep possible so this month we’re going to make PJ’s and pillowcases for the kids in Wanblee. They need pillows too so they can be purchased ready made or if you happen to have lots of fiberfill make your own. We’ve sent PJ’s in the past and the kids absolutely loved them as well as the pillows and pillowcases. They were so thrilled to get a “special” pillowcase made just for them!
So ladies get out your warm flannel and fleece and pajama patterns and get busy sewing for these deserving kids! If you want to help and don’t sew or are short on time, raid the sales racks at discount stores or shop the late season garage sales or thrift stores for deals. Sales have already started for winter fabrics if you need to stock up or raid your stash and combine different fabrics for a “custom” pair of PJ’s using color blocking, trims, appliques, etc. Make just the sleep pants and purchase a long sleeve top or make the set if you have enough fabric, even one pair of PJ’s will be a real treat for the kids. We need pajamas for boys and girls in toddlers 2-4T, kids 5/6, 7/8, 10/12, and teens 14, 16/18 and S/M adults. Used pajamas in good condition are certainly acceptable. Our goal is to provide 5 pair of pajamas in each size range, of course more would be better. Using fabric that’s unisex helps as we usually can’t get an accurate count of what is actually sent to the Rez. If you have baby sleepers feel free to send them along too. If you need free patterns check here , here and here . Please share pics of your projects with us so we can post them in the next blog.
Theresa High Horse has requested pillows and pillowcases for the kids again since her last “pillow party” was such a smashing success. The kids absolutely loved all the brightly colored pillowcases and if that wasn’t enough some received their very own pillow! She will need both pillows and cases again to hold another party and has kept a list of kids that received a pillow last time so those that still need one may get it this time. You can make them if you wish (young kids can have smaller decorator size pillows) or buy a few on the web and ship free. We would love all the kids to get a pair of pajamas and a pillowcase but if we don’t meet that goal we’re hoping at least to provide those kids that didn’t get a pillow and case at the last party with one this time around. Here is a great pattern to use for a pillow that will take you 30 minutes max to make and a way great way to use up those short pieces of cotton or flannel fabric. Non sewers and those short on time can of course send purchased pillowcases. Check Here for another way to make pillowcases.
We also want to provide pajamas for the children coming to the shelter (Sacred Shawl Society). No child will have PJ’s coming to the shelter as they will arrive with just the clothes they’re wearing and even if Mom had time to pack a small bag there are no pajamas to pack anyway. They want the kids to have a nice warm pair of pajamas to sleep in and be comfortable, especially since they’re coming in from a stressful situation. The shelter also wants the pajamas so they can provide something comfortable while the clothing they came in with can be laundered just to make sure there aren’t bedbugs, etc. PJ’s will be an ongoing need at the shelter, like socks and underwear they’ll leave with the child who’s worn them.
While baby sleep sacks and sleepers are needed and certainly can be sent, this project will concentrate on PJ’s for toddlers and kids in the same sizes as the Wanblee project. Our goal for the shelter is to send at least 3 pairs of PJ’s in the various sizes for each gender. If possible we’d like a few more in the toddler sizes because some are still potty training. Although the shelter can accept kids up to age 16, the Director expects to see children mainly aged NB- 8. Many kids on the Rez are bigger than their chronological age so the reason we’re asking for some larger sizes.
Women also need PJ’s and can wear sweatpants and sweatshirts or scrubs in large sizes 1X to 4X so if you have any in those sizes they would be appreciated. Some women will come in having been sexually assaulted so will need a medical examination, their clothing will probably be kept for evidence so they’ll need something clean and comfortable to wear.
If any of you like to knit or crochet or like to make fleece socks, those would be a nice accompaniment for the PJ’s to keep those tootsies warm.
Please make as many Pj’s pillows, pillowcases, socks and slippers as you can in any of the listed sizes and send them a the addresses here for Wanblee and for the Sacred Shawl Society (shelter) . If you want to join our Sew For Kids Volunteer site on Facebook or our Sew For Lakota Kids on Yahoo , we would love to have you work with us to help our Rez friends.
On a final note, in order for the shelter to open they still need some funds to pay salaries for the employees working at the shelter. Grants have been applied for but they haven’t heard yet if they’ll receive any. If you can help (any amount welcomed and appreciated) please go to their Go Fund Me page or their website to make a donation. They want to open the doors on October 1 as they’re getting many calls asking for help but for now they’ve had to turn them away. Please spread the word to anyone or any organization that may be willing to help them open their doors.
Thanks as always from SFK.