Baby and Toddler Month Needs

January 21, 2016 at 11:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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!


2016 Project List

January 3, 2016 at 10:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

2015 Christmas Party Brings an End to SFK Accomplishments

January 1, 2016 at 5:19 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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”!







Wanblee and Sacred Shawl Society Christmas Plans and News

October 31, 2015 at 10:41 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

Getting Ready For Winter

October 5, 2015 at 11:19 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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!

Its a Pajama Party and Sleepover, Well Sort Of!

September 4, 2015 at 11:09 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

Back To School Time

August 14, 2015 at 5:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s hard to believe but school starts on the Rez in less than two weeks.  The weather this summer has been cooler than usual with lots of rain until mid July when things started heating up.  SFK spent most of July sewing/buying  skirts, shorts and tops so kids will have some new clothes to start out the school year.  Some parents won’t send their kids to school until they receive funds from the tribe for school expenses as they’re afraid of being judged for not being able to provide for their children.  The downside of this practice is kids miss the start of school which puts them behind the other students and the monies allotted for each student is determined during the first week of school according to attendance, so everyone loses when kids don’t start school on time.

Our project for July was to provide new school clothing and judging by the numbers we met our goal.  Our volunteers made # skirts, # shorts, and # pants and either sewed or purchased a shirt to complete the outfit.  Some bought outfits as well. The pictures below show the beautiful results of what can happen when a group of caring and talented seamstresses get together!  The lucky recipients of these beautiful clothes will truly feel special on their first day of school.

Kids always need school supplies, socks, shoes and underwear on the Rez.  The sales are on in the big box stores so now’s the time to stock up on paper, notebooks, folders, paper, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, erasers, glue sticks, pencil cases and book/messenger bags.  As you shop for school supplies think about how a good education can be life changing for a child  and they need these tools to start their journey.  Pencil cases and book bags can be sewn, there are lots of free patterns across the web.  Some kids might use their bags from last year, but most of the younger ones have beaten theirs up pretty badly and will need a new one.  Sales are on for socks and underwear too and any of the above can be purchased now and sent for Christmas gifts.  Jerome sends many thanks to all of you for the supplies already received including the box he received from Australia from Linda Faulkner and sends his sincere thanks for her gifts to the kids etc.

We’ve had a few new members join our group this past month and would like to extend a warm welcome to each of you.  We’re so thankful you’ve decided to join our efforts in supporting the community of Wanblee and the new women’s shelter in the neighboring community of Martin just 30 miles away.  Kimmie Clausen, director of the shelter and Jerome and Theresa from Wanblee have told us we are major contributors to their projects and without our help they would be doing their work with a lot less.

In other news, Youthworks will leave this week.  These young people come in groups all summer long, stay for a week and help paint homes, mow lawns, weed gardens, and do various odd jobs for the community.  They’re very helpful and hard working with many promising to stay in touch and send things back for the community.  Group leaders from Youthworks and a few other visiting groups have offered to send loads of wood from the Nebraska and Colorado areas.  Speaking of wood, a few ranchers about 60 miles away asked Jerome and his men to stop by the ranch and cut the wood that’s blocking the creeks because of the work of some very busy beavers.  The Woodchucks haven’t been around much this summer as they get work in tourist areas, but those jobs will soon be coming to an end.  They volunteer their time in the off season cutting wood for Jerome and the community so the money they make during the summer helps them get through the winter when they’re unemployed.

The fire department sponsored a parade on the 4th,  kids got to see demonstrations of some of the equipment and received some fire safety education. Several people made a second fire engine possible because of the funds donated to repair the donated truck. We helped with some party food and some of our supporters sent in games. The kids had lots of fun evident in the below pictures.

The ambulance department has taken over showing movies and have been showing them outside all summer.  Good to hear other organizations are getting involved in some of the community functions and giving Jerome and Theresa some much needed help.   Jerome did mention they could use more popcorn, oil and bags if anyone would like to help.

NAHA and Running Strong are still helping out with some of their basic needs so we’re hoping that will include school supplies and maybe some toiletries too. They don’t know what’s on the trucks until they arrive and neither do we so needs are always changing if certain items do not come in. They’re still getting volunteers to help unload the truck and do the sorting.  Jerome hasn’t been to the food bank this summer as they haven’t had any meat and that’s what people need.  There’s a possibility they may be getting some food from the Sioux Falls food bank in the future, during a recent visit they told Jerome they’re in the area every six weeks so we’re keeping our fingers crossed they’ll come through for them.

Once school starts kids will receive breakfast and lunch and a snack before leaving for home which was started last year in case kids didn’t receive dinner at home.  Theresa does get many knocks on her door from hungry kids asking for a sandwich and even receives calls from elders asking if they can get something to eat so she knows first hand who’s the most needy.  Many thanks to those of you who sent coffee, tea, spices, flour, baking powder, yeast and sugar, the women were really in need and so thankful for your kindness.

The Pow Wow and  Sun Dance were held in July and everyone had a good time.  Jerome had to help rewire the grandstand and buy lights because the wire was just buried on the ground and not in a conduit so the lights were no longer functional.  The 4 day ride to Rosebud will still be held but Jerome and Theresa may not be with them as they’re heading to Texas for a week to visit their daughter and granddaughter as soon as Youthworks leave. They need a break from the long hours they put in every day with community needs and from Theresa’s new job.

For those of you that like to work ahead September’s projects will be pajamas for the shelter and Wanblee and pillows and pillow cases for Theresa and Jerome so they can hold another pillow giveaway which was so successful last year.   Many kids wear their street clothes to bed or just their underwear which might be ok in a warm home but not so good in a poorly heated one.  At present the shelter has no pajamas for the kids so are really in need of some before they open.  This will be a continual need as moms and their kids will arrive with little or nothing  so the pj’s will be sent with them when they leave.  They’re also in need of kids clothing 0-5T and women’s plus size clothing 2-4X and new women’s underwear sizes 10-12.  We’ll be working on some kids clothing projects for the shelter in a few weeks, more on that later.

Our thanks to all of you who’ve helped with our summer projects.  The women’s shelter is set to open October 1 due in large part to the generous contributions they’re received from this group.  Please send your donations here and send a SASE if you would like a reply, buying stamps is expensive for these organizations already strapped for funding.   For a tax receipt include a list of items sent in the package and request it be signed, dated and returned in the envelope.  Both Wanblee and the shelter are happy to do it for you and appreciate all the work it takes to get a package to their areas.

Sacred Shawl Shelter update

July 27, 2015 at 11:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Today I had another long conversation with Sacred Shawl shelter director Kimmie Clausen about current needs and a progress update.   Work on the shelter is moving ahead rapidly with the help of some youth workers who are in the community for the summer.  Kimmie and her 3 assistants are busy with paperwork, safety inspections and all the other red tape that needs tending to before they can open.  They’re hoping for an opening date of October 1 which can’t come soon enough for those in need, they’re already receiving calls asking if they can take someone.  The shelter in Mission, SD, which is off the Rez, is filled to capacity and they looking for help.  This shelter is so badly needed and Kimmie told me again how much they appreciate all our help.

Capacity of the new shelter will be 20 people once the 3 rooms off the garage are remodeled.  The old shelter, Cangleska, has been closed for five years, sits vacant and has been vandalized.   They chose not to use that building as they wanted to start with a smaller place they could afford to operate.

Kimmie said every day seems like Christmas with all the boxes being delivered.   She said without our help she didn’t know when or if they would be opening.  Those groups helping with shelter needs are:  Sew For Kids, (operating under Hearts of the Sacred Spirit), Pine Ridge Elders, Lakota Friends Circle, For the Children of Pine Ridge (Ravelry group), and Halfknits Charity Knitting and Crochet Group. Kimmie has received monetary help from several women’s groups and other resources so utilities and rent have been paid for the next year, the next largest expense will be salaries for the 3 employees needed to operate the shelter. They are appealing to the tribe for some money for salaries and food while they wait to see if any of the grants, that the Director has applied for , come in. Women admitted to the shelter can bring their children up to age 16, length of stay will vary depending on their situation but generally less than 30 days.   They will be responsible for keeping their rooms and public areas they use clean, respect others privacy, keep their appointments, care for their children, etc.

The following items are still needed for the shelter:


The new bunk beds (full bottom, twin top) arrived this week and have been set up.  They found another twin bed and have 3 hide-a-beds, two queen and one king.   They will need to find funding for additional beds when the remodeled garage is complete but for now the total beds are 3 twin, 2 full, 2 queen, and 1 king bed, each needing sheets, pillows and pillow cases, and waterproof mattress pads.   They would like to have 3 sets of sheets per bed as they will be shared by all members of the family and kids have accidents. Each mattress and pillow will need to be enclosed with a bedbug proof cover which also keeps out dust mites, myself and Janet will be donating those.  They have 2 smaller cribs and may get 2 more, Kimmie is getting exact measurements of those. Blankets are arriving and donors are still busy making more, this is an ongoing need as winters on the Rez are brutal and if they have extra will be sent home with those that need them.  Bedroom lamps would be wonderful as rooms only have workshop type fluorescent fixture on the ceiling and if the kids need to sleep but mom wants to read a small light is ideal. Small wastebasket for the rooms would be great as well. They will need 7 for the bedrooms and 2 for the living spaces. They do have garbage cans for the kitchen.


Large serving/cooking utensils such as spoons, forks and ladles, paring knives, spatulas, scrapers and lifters, good can openers, vegetable peelers,strainer, pizza, cookie, pie and muffin pans, rolling pin. They would like to have another crock pot as women will be using their own food and cooking for their family at different times.  Plastic cups for adults and kids, plastic baby bottles, utensils and plates for babies, all BPA free.  A few more pots and pans are needed as well as plastic storage containers in various sizes.   For now they have enough dinner plates, skillets and cutlery.  They need a few more booster seats and 2 high chairs.   Laundry needs are detergent (pod type), an iron and ironing board, and clothespins for hanging out laundry.  The cheap clothes pins sold at dollar stores aren’t strong enough to hold laundry on the line in the strong prairie winds, at least the heavy laundry.


They can always use more towels and washcloths as they will probably have to send a few out with people leaving who have none.  Baby washcloths and towels would be great for the smallest ones. Kimmie is so thankful for the ones they’ve already received!  Cotton bath mats would be great as they can be tossed in the washer, non-slip mats for the tub and shower are needed too.   Other needs are 2 small plastic garbage cans, and night lights for bathrooms and hallways. Flashlights would be great for power outages.

6 Smoke detectors and 2 carbon monoxide detectors were sent by a generous donor, they will need more when the garage remodeling is finished.  They found 2 fire extinguishers in the house to use for now and they’re working on the exit plan in case of fire.


They would like another DVD player and DVDs for all ages, books for kids of all ages and adults, puzzles, games, toys, stuffed animals, craft items such as beads, art supplies, etc.  Majority of the kids will be infant through 8 although there may be some up to age 16.

Two sewing machines have been set up in the family room so they will need sewing notions, quilt batting, fabric, etc.  Kimmie hopes the women can start to make star quilts to sell and help support the shelter.  Crochet hooks, knitting needles, yarn and beginners “how to” books.

Pantry – toiletries – supplies

These things are always going to need replacing so consider adding to your box if you have room: Toiletries – shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, bath soap, hand sanitizer, baby wash, diaper cream.  Paper products – toilet paper, tissues, sanitary pads, diapers and pull-ups, wipes.  Cleaning – laundry pods, garbage bags, dish soap, liquid hand soap,  pine-sol type cleaners.  Supplies won’t just be handed out when families arrive, they will have to ask if they need something  as they are on a tight budget and need to use their resources wisely.  For now they feel the laundry pods, while more expensive, will be the easiest to hand out and prevent wasting liquid detergent by improper measuring.  The pods will be kept in a locked area so no chance of a child ingesting.  We’re hoping in the future to convince them to make their own detergent.   Pantry items – peanut butter, tuna, canned meat, dried beans, rice, mac and cheese, oatmeal, etc.   Tools – hammer, screw driver set, nails, pliers, etc.  We have a donor sending some of these.


They have no PJs  and slippers so this will be one of our September projects. Socks and underwear (new only), shoes/boots, warm winter gear such as hats, scarves, gloves/mittens, coats, hoodies, fleece tops and pants.  Winter items will be another one of our upcoming projects.  Clothing for babies and young children are still needed. Bibs of all sizes for up to age 3 , burp pads and receiving blankets are needed .  Baby blankets are needed to bundle up kids in cars, and to cuddle babies in mom’s arms. Sleepsacks are great for the kids ages 0- 24 months and are especially needed for ages 0-12 months as that is what goes over the  sleeper . No blankets are to be in the bed at those ages to decrease the SIDs risk for the babies. There is a high incidence of SIDS on the Indian Rez. Sleeping in a crib with no toys,  pillows or blankets and sleeping on their backs has reduced the number of cases of SIDS across the nation. The babies use the blankets when moms are watching over them .

Well those are the latest needs, we’re hoping once they open and get situated the list will be a lot shorter, mostly just replacing ongoing needs.  The next blog will focus on what our SFK volunteer  facebook group has been doing this past month, introducing a “comfort bag” project for kids entering the shelter and what we’ll be doing in August for the Wanblee Community.

Thanks for your big hearts and continuing support of SFK!  The address for the shelter is here.  Please scroll down the page to find it. Monetary donations are accepted on their site or you can mail in a check. Please note on your donation that you want it to go to the Sacred Shawl Society. Thank you .

A Visit to the Shelter

July 11, 2015 at 10:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Janet S , my co-administrator on SFK stopped off at the Women’s Shelter in Martin to meet the Director – Kimmie Clausen, to drop off stuff and hopefully tour the place.

Here is the note she sent back to me . She may have photos in the future and will try while on the Rez but depends on connections that are available to her.

This note clarifies some of the information that we told you about.Thank you Janet for taking the time to educate us. It looks like we will have a nice working relationship with Kimmie and the Sacred Shawl Society in addition to helping the community of Wanblee.

Got into Martin about 1:30 this afternoon and called Kimmie, she came down to meet us at the DQ and we followed her to the shelter outside of town a couple of miles.  It’s located on tribal land and was someone’s residence so is really nice.  The property is right off the main highway but is surrounded by trees so not visible from the road.  The house has nice kitchen with all appliances, dining area, nice size living room with two hide-a-beds, another round table and chairs off in another corner, nice sized room for the office and two more bedrooms.  She said all the donations they’ve received were in the bedroom and two of those boxes were ones I had just sent.  I didn’t see a lot of things there and believe she said what was there came from us.  Most of them contained clothing and she got some young women to come in and help sort into sizes.  Everything I sent was sorted by size and placed in individual bags with the size stapled on it.  There is a HUGE beautiful bathroom with seperate shower and tub in the corner.  The house is almost entirely carpeted except the bathrooms and kitchen.
Downstairs has a huge living area with TV and kids table and chairs with small bookshelf, another couch and chair, don’t think this one makes into a bed, can’t remember if there was another table or not.  There is a laundry room with washer and dryer, she thinks another washer might be a good idea.  Two bedrooms (pink and blue) and a storage room with the furnace and a door that also goes into the garage.  The decks look like they’re in really good shape but she’s afraid kids might fall off the higher one so that’s why they’re not going to use it.  I took pics with cell phone and camera so might be able to post some of FB if I get a good signal.  Otherwise will send them when I get home next Friday.
Outdoors is nice, surrounded by trees but definitely not an easy property to mow.  Took a pic of future garden site and play area.  Hope they all come out.  Kimmie is a great lady with a big heart and I think we’ll have a great working relationship with her.  They’re hoping to open the doors the first of October so we have plenty of time to help get things together.  We stopped at WM this morning and finished filling the car.  Before I forget here’s what I bought:  large package of size 4 diapers, 2 largest size of sanitary pads, wipes, lg pkg. toilet paper, 3 speed fan, 5 boxes macaroni/cheese, lg. oatmeal, laundry basket, storage containers, canister set.  Already packed were light bulbs, kleenex, toiletries, toothpaste, toothbrushes, lots of interactive kids toys, kitchen linens, large bag of towels, two sewing machines, boys underwear, plastic drinking glasses and plates, sugar, salt, coffee, crockpot, toaster and so much more stuff I don’t know about because it was donated by my SIL and didn’t want to unpack all of it.
One thing I thought they might need was some simple tools but ran out of room.  The only tools they have are a hammer and a screw driver she brought from home.  Well my brain is tired and can’t think of anything else so if I remember anything else tomorrow will write it down.  All in all it was a good day and I came away with a very good feeling about the shelter, Kimmie and the women she can help.
If you have further questions, we will call Kimmie. I hope to soon get a spreadsheet on the site soon so that we can keep track of what is being sent and what is still needed. We ,of course, once it is up and functioning will have to send some items that need replacing due to usage or to giving them to moms in need who leave the center.
Thanks to all of you who have already sent in items or are soon planning on sending in the items. YOU are the Best !

A New Month and a New Project

July 9, 2015 at 10:22 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where do the days go, it always seems during summer they pick up speed and fly by even faster.  Jerome and Theresa are busy with various projects around the community taking advantage of all the volunteers that show up to help each summer.  Since there isn’t a lot of spare time to process shipments we’re giving them a break and working on projects to be shipped later, back to school clothing and supplies, cold weather gear and even Christmas gifts.  The SFK Volunteer group is having a skirt and shorts sew-a-thon so kids will have a nice outfit to start school.  They are scouring thrift stores and department stores shopping for just the right shirt to complete their outfit.  Come on over and join us as we work on projects together, share ideas and patterns and make new friends.

In the meantime we’ve learned of a new women’s shelter opening soon in Martin, SD (not too far from Wanblee) called the Sacred Shawl Society (501c3), a program of  Wild Horse Butte CDC .   Community Development Corporations or CDC’s were formed across the Rez in the nineties to develop the most poverty stricken areas, Wild Horse Butte serving the LaCreek district is the only surviving CDC.  Please visit their website to learn more about their work of providing affordable housing and access to health care to members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.  Recent figures report PRR is short about 4500 homes which explains why it’s not uncommon to find 20 or more people living in a 3 bedroom house.

The Sacred Shawl Society was formed in direct response to the overwhelming need for services related to domestic violence/sexual abuse so prevalent across the Rez.  Please read more about them here and visit their facebook page for updates. Kimmie Clausen, Director and two staff members will be overseeing daily operations of the shelter.  The  shelter is located in a building provided by the Oglala Sioux Housing Authority located just across the border from Martin.  The property also has a two car garage they’re planning to remodel into additional bedrooms making the shelter capable of housing up to 8 families at one time.  This will be the only shelter on the Rez since Cangleska closed about 5 years ago due to financial difficulties.  Women have been sent off the Rez to safe houses which adds further trauma as they’re removed from the care and support of family.

The building’s lease has been paid for a year by a generous donor and utilities have also been paid for by another generous donor.  Kimmie has applied for a 3 year grant to pay for the day to day operations and employee salaries.  The women and children can never be left alone so employees will have to be present around the clock.  At present funds are being provided by a few small grants and from organizations and individuals that support women’s issues, they’re also looking for energy assistance. They’re hoping to get some donations from NAHA (as do the High Horses) on a monthly basis.  NAHA brings whatever they have on hand, requests for certain items can be made but there are no guarantees it will be provided.  Since they’re operating on a shoe string at the moment and don’t have a funding source for food women will have to use their SNAP cards. They will need some help to stock their pantry as women coming in won’t have food with them and since they’ve been traumatized it might be a few days until they’re well enough to shop for food if they have any food stamps left to spend for the month.  The health clinic is very close to the shelter so women and children can receive medical care for injuries including rape and can also use the counseling services.  They’re hoping to hold parenting classes, teach money management and encourage getting GED’s so they can go on to college which is possible through PELL grants and TANF.

Kimmie says she also needs women to help each other, watching each other’s children when they have court appearances, medical appointments or just need some alone time without the stress of children.   Women can stay at the shelter for up to a month and won’t be sent back to their abusive situations.  Children will attend school and have the option to go to the school they usually attend or the local school in Martin.

So we can help them get those doors open by providing items, some must have’s and some that are on their wish list.  The building came with a stove, refrigerator, washer and dryer, dishwasher, microwave and coffee pot and they recently acquired a freezer that will do for now.  There are no furnishings so they’ve been going to garage sales and thrift stores trying to find the basics.  They have found some furniture but still need double beds, dressers, book shelves, lamps, cribs, high chairs, booster seats, pack and play’s, etc. they can get car seats from the Public Safety Department on the Rez.  If you happen to live in the area and have any of these items please contact the director.

Everything has been given a fresh coat of paint, most of the living area is in shades of beige, there’s a pink and a blue bedroom with matching carpet and the kitchen is decorated in shades of red.  They want the space to look welcoming and inviting so families will feel comfortable and safe.  The two bedrooms have a bunk bed in each, full bed on bottom and twin on top and will try to put a crib in each room if they get donations.  The living area has a hide a bed couch, chair, TV and a small table for the kids with some toys and books, there’s also a quiet room with a desk and computer.  There are 2 decks but only one is usable, they could use some lawn chairs and a small eating table. They do have a nice lawn so will need a lawnmower and the Director plans to put in a vegetable garden next year. Plans for the future are a playground for the kids with swings, slide, and a sandbox. Below is a list of needs, some will need replacing as they wear out or are given to families on their departure.

Clothing – Many women arrive at the shelter with nothing but the clothes they’re wearing so clothing for kids, babies and adult women are needed in various sizes – sleepwear, underwear and socks (new only), pants, shirts, hoodies, shoes, etc.  Coats and other cold weather gear for winter which will most likely leave with the recipient so will be an ongoing need.

Kitchen – Potholders, dishcloths, dishtowels, dish soap, scrubbers, bottle brush, spatulas, large spoons and forks, sharp knives, measuring cups and spoons, silverware, good quality can openers, cloth napkins, tablecloths (when we get table size), plastic drinking glasses, coffee mugs, pots and pans especially some skillets, bake ware, tea kettle, clock, plastic storage containers, garbage bags.  Make sure all plastic donations are BPA free.

Bathroom and toiletry needs – Bath towels, washcloths, hand towels, toilet paper, tissues, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, combs and brushes (new only), nail care items, hair dryer, sanitary pads, shower caps, razors, soap, washable cotton bath mats, toilet brush. The 2 showers have glass doors and one of the bathrooms has a tub for the kids.

Bedroom –  Flat and fitted sheets for full and twin beds, pillowcases, pillows, blankets, afghans, quilts, mattress pads (waterproof is best), and pillow covers.  Zippered covers that totally encase the mattress and box springs are especially desirable as children are bound to have accidents and bed bugs won’t be able to cross the barrier and get into the mattress.

Toys – for various ages – trucks and cars, dolls and accessories, play dishes, blocks, Legos/Duplo’s, board and card games, puzzles, paper, coloring books, crayons, glue sticks, safety scissors, colored pencils, pencils, play dough, paint sets, stuffed animals, etc.  They currently have very few toys.

Outside toys – balls, sand box toys, frisbee, skipping ropes, hula hoops, bean bags, chalk for hopscotch, etc.

Living room – throw pillows, small afghans and quilts, books for all ages, DVDs for adults and children.

Safety equipment – general purpose fire extinguisher(s), smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and batteries for all of the above, night lights.

Baby needs – sleepsacks, sleepers, onesies, baby clothes in various sizes and seasons, bibs, burp cloths, baby blankets, baby towels and washcloths, diapers in all sizes and wipes, diaper covers, diaper cream, plastic baby bottles (BPA free) and nipples for various ages

First Aid Kit items – band aids, antibiotic cream, gauze, tape, thermometers, alcohol swabs, peroxide, anti-itch lotion, etc.

Laundry –  laundry soap, fabric softener sheets or liquid, stain removers, sturdy clothes pins, those from the dollar stores break easily in the prairie winds sending the clothes flying, laundry baskets.

Pantry items – Coffee, tea, coffee filters, creamer, sugar, flour, baking soda and powder, salt, dried milk, sugar substitute, peanut butter, canned tuna, salmon, and chicken, hot chocolate, boxed mac and cheese, rice, dried beans, dried fruit, macaroni, spaghetti, cooking oil, spices, yeast, crackers, canned fruits, vegetables and soups, oatmeal, baby formula and cereal, and large Rubbermaid type containers to use for canisters. These are things that can be stuck in the corner of a box of other items you may be sending.

Sewing notions –  SFK is sending out a sewing machine (maybe 2 if there’s room), thanks to Janet my co-administrator. Not only can they repair their clothing but several women make star quilts and they want women at the shelter to help make some to sell or raffle for the shelter.  Sewing is also therapeutic and helps keep your mind occupied so you can forget your troubles for a little while.  They will need quilting weight cottons in prints and solids, thread, sewing scissors, quilting rulers, muslin for backing, batting, etc.  This project is not an immediate need as they are still in the beginning stages of getting the center up and running but certainly a future project.  An iron and ironing board would be great as well as rotary cutters and all supplies.  Will have to ask if quilters on the Rez use them.

Lawn care – lawnmower,  folding lawn chairs

Office supplies – paper, envelopes, pens, pencils, copy paper, paper clips, etc.

This is a long list of needs but one that is doable if we all work together.  Please make sure your items meet our donation guidelines.  Kimmie, the shelter director, will update the site once she receives the things they need and will also let us know of current needs.  While we’re out shopping and sewing for the shelter Kimmie will be getting her forms lined up for admissions, fire inspections, and all the other red tape she needs to take care of.   We are not forgetting about Wanblee and our commitment to them, we’re just adding another area that really needs our help.  Thank you all for helping make this shelter a reality for the women and children on the Rez.  Please mail material donations here:

Via USPS (packages and letters)

Wild Horse Butte

Sacred Shawl Society

PO Box 488

Martin, SD 57551

Via Fedex/UPS packages

Wild Horse Butte

Sacred Shawl Society

401 5th Street

Martin, SD 57551

If you want a receipt for taxes send a list of your items and a copy for the organization with a SASE and ask them to sign that it was received and have it sent back to you. Monetary donations can be made at the site through PayPal or a check mailed directly.  Make sure you indicate where you want your donation used.

Thank you all for your continuing support and dedication to improving the lives of families on Pine Ridge!

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