Snow has already fallen in Wanblee, Martin and other areas of Pine Ridge Reservation. Our September/October project is focused on making or purchasing blankets, warm clothing, coats and accessories for all areas we serve so you can start shipping your completed projects anytime now. If you’re still shopping or crafting not to worry, blankets and warm clothing will be needed throughout the winter season and we will undoubtedly be asked to help with critical needs as people call for help. We’ve partnered with some wonderful groups for this project and many others as well, a big thanks to Children of Pine Ridge Reservation, Pine Ridge Elders and Halfknits, for working with us as we try to make winter a little more bearable for Native Americans in South Dakota. Children of Pine Ridge Reservation has also been helping get school supplies and winter needs to an elementary school on Rosebud Reservation and have raised money to purchase boots for the students which most go through the winter without. Thanks ladies for your generosity!
The LIHEAP program this year will provide a one time assistance amount of $200 per family, down from $250 last year due to the program cuts in Washington. Jerome High Horse and the Woodchucks cut wood from rancher’s creeks during the summer and fall months for the 30 families in the community that heat with wood. Others that heat mainly with propane will soon be making the decision to keep the heat on, pay the electric bill or buy food, they cannot do all three so calls will start coming in for help. Fortunately Jerome was able to set aside some of the food Wanblee received through Nation to Nation, the hunters who provide venison and fowl for his area, and Running Strong using the refrigerators and freezers SFK and others helped purchase. Jerome’s also hoping to harvest a buffalo this fall for the freezer which could help feed many families this winter. Also the chickens have finally grown enough to produce eggs so another source of good protein for the people. Photos from the Families Working Together facebook page
Running Strong Deliveries
Wanblee News Local children are having a lot of fun attending cooking classes at the community center. ” Creative Kids In Grandma’s Kitchen” SFK volunteers made aprons for the kids, which they loved, but the boys said they were a little too “girly” for them and asked if they could have some “manly” aprons. Well several members were more than happy to help with that request and they’re already on their way to the boys. Native American Day (formerly Columbus Day) was celebrated on October 9th. Elementary students at Crazy Horse school are receiving weekend food bags, made possible by a generous group from Nebraska, on Fridays so they have something to eat over the weekend. Some SFK members are room parents at Crazy Horse helping a middle school history and social studies teacher with books, school supplies, snacks, etc. Photos 2, 3 and 4 from Families Working Together Facebook page
Janet S, co-administrator of SFK, visited the community center in September and brought 3 sewing machines for the future sewing group and also many pots and pans, crockpots, microwave, toaster ovens, miscellaneous tools, coats, gloves and flannel shirts for the Woodchucks, a set of Legos for the children’s library and many other things for the center and/or the thrift store. She toured the thrift store located on the second floor and said it looked like they had gotten in a lot of hangers and racks which will help with organizing and making things more visible for shoppers. The sewing area will be on the second floor as well. The library and kitchen are small and Jerome says they’ve already outgrown their space and if funding can be found they plan to enlarge the area by adding a 40 x 60 room. The building has an area for unloading and packing supplies for outgoing deliveries and the space can also be used to hold parties. There are two dorm areas each with baths and showers and a small lounge area for volunteers that come to help with community projects throughout the year. A Halloween party is planned for the end of the month, something the kids really look forward to, they especially love the “ghoul walk” through town. Jerome will soon be heading to Kansas to pick up a load of donations from SFK member Laurie A and also blankets and other warm items made by Kat B’s group Halfknits. Gardens won’t be tilled this fall due to the early arrival of winter-like weather and all of Jerome’s traveling but will be tilled in the spring. An added advantage is the fresh manure they got from ranchers can sit and compost over the winter making it more usable by and preventing burning of delicate new plants. Photos from Families Working Together Facebook page – dedication but showing you the inside of the building
Photos from Janet S my co-administrator on Sew For Kids
Martin The youth center is open on weekdays from 4-10 pm and weekends noon to 10pm. Children receive a snack after school and when their homework is finished they can read for an hour, smaller ones are read to, and then can play games or work on computers. Many kids want to stay overnight as they don’t want to go to a cold or unhappy home but there’s no funding for the extra staff, they barely have enough funding to keep the center open as it is. In fact Kimmie has to find money to keep the center open this year as the previous donor has decided to help another organization. Lakota Friends Circle purchased a washer and dryer for the center made possible from a single generous donation of $300 and another $500 donation from a charitable foundation. Kimmie was delighted to get the new appliances as kids who have dirty clothes and no way to wash them won’t go to school because they’re too embarrassed. The kids are learning how to do laundry and are allowed to wash one load of their own clothing once a week. They’re required to shake out their clothing before they come into the center as some live in homes with roaches and they’ve already had to have the center sprayed the first week of the program. The center will need laundry pods and is something to add to your box if you have room. The district pays for water, electric and heat for the building so is one less financial burden for Kimmie to worry about.
Janet S made a stop in Martin on her trip to South Dakota bringing lots of shoes, sleeping bags, a Pac n Play, baby carrier, adult games for shelter ladies, backpacks, kitchen items including stainless pots and pans, crock pots, toaster ovens, electric skillets, and other small appliances, and sanitary needs and toiletries generously donated by Carrie F, director of the Women’s Resource Center in Nashville, IN. Janet also received donations of blankets from Community Closet, a local thrift store in Nashville, which she plans to send to the Rez this winter. Many thanks to both of these organizations for their generosity! Janet S’s donations for the shelter and the youth center. Note the dryer Washer had already been installed.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Kimmie has been to many women’s conferences recently and holds programs at public events such as Pow Wow’s to help educate women about domestic violence and sexual assault and give them resources should they become a victim. She created a poster to display at these events you can see on the Sacred Shawl Society’s Facebook page here. Kimmie is also a member of the group Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains whose vision is to end domestic and sexual violence against Native women.
The women’s shelter currently has a full house which is unfortunate because domestic abuse is such an issue on the Rez, but fortunately victims have a safe haven where they can begin healing. Kimmie says she and her staff can get to victims who need to leave their abusive homes faster than police who may not come at all due to a shortage of police officers. It’s extremely difficult for victims of abuse to get help on the Rez which is why the shelter was set up. There are several women at the shelter who are close to giving birth so they’re very grateful for the baby things donors have sent. The staff is asking the midwife to give them training on delivering a baby because they recently had a situation where they barely got their client to the hospital in time and they want to be prepared in case roads are closed or impassable in winter weather. Your donations also help women coming to the CDC office, usually toward the end of the month when their resources have run out, looking for help with diapers and clothing and now looking for something to keep their little ones warm.
Kimmie has been struggling once again with funding issues from the federal government. Even though she has all her paperwork done and sent to the tribe, the person(s) responsible to send it on to the federal government doesn’t do so in a timely manner which delays her monthly allowance. It’s hard to pay employees and feed people when you have no money. Kimmie had to hire two new staff members because they’ve been operating at full capacity for some time. The new rooms above the garage are now finished and furnished with a double/twin bunkbed and two dressers made possible by a generous $400 donation from St. Helen’s Church in Hebron, IN. A special thanks to parishioner Karen Y. for initiating the drive to collect funds for the women’s shelter. Photo of the new room above the garage
Kimmie finally found a large van to purchase for transporting clients to their court and medical appointments. She bought the van for $8000 using money from a grant she recently applied for and received. There is seating for 7 people and it’s equipped with car seats for babies and children. Before this purchase they had to take two staff members and their cars from the shelter which left them short handed and in some cases without transportation until they were finished with appointments which could take most of the day. Kimmie says lots of wonderful donations have been arriving and is so very grateful for all your generosity. She was delighted to hear that warm clothing and some pajamas are heading their way. The kids loved the quilts Jenny S made and were so excited to receive one, thanks for all your hard work Jenny, it was appreciated! Foster care has come again to get clothing for those children not yet placed in foster homes and thankfully they had something to give them thanks to everyone’s generosity. Kimmie has been taking some of your donations to the nursing homes in Martin and White Clay. Families don’t bring a lot to their elders once they’re placed in homes so the elders are so grateful for the small gifts Kimmie brings them from us.
Marty Indian School is back in the groove and room parents from SFK are busy helping their respective classes. On September 24 we had two SFK members visit the school, Janet S from IN and Penny N who actually lives about 3 hours away in South Dakota and visits the school twice a year in spring and fall. Penny took videos of all the classes and posted on our group, it was so exciting seeing all the smiling faces it almost felt like you were there too, thank you Penny! Both ladies planned to visit the same day so they could meet each other but with all the unloading and visiting with classes going on they actually had very little time to visit. Paulita gave tours of the Feather store and the sewing room and said the sewing supplies are pretty well stocked but the girls have been asking for fabric in purple and pink and animal prints such as leopard, zebra, etc. At the time Janet and Penny visited there wasn’t space available to have a separate clothing room as last year so room parents were sending shoes and clothes directly to their classes. Thankfully that has changed and space has become available to have a clothing and shoe store once again. They could use our help with winter coats, warm clothing, socks and underwear, boots and shoes in sizes to fit K-5. Some of the boys in the higher grades can wear S-M adult and shoe sizes up to 7-8. The main Feather store can use notebooks, folders, backpacks, small toys, books for k-5, Kleenex, sanitary needs, Chapstick, toiletries, healthy snacks, household supplies such as dish soap and detergent. We can start sending Christmas gifts for the store next month so the kids can shop for gifts for their families. You can read more about the Feather store in a previous blog here.
The school will have a Fall Festival and the kids will celebrate Halloween in their class rooms. They were hoping to go to a pumpkin patch but I am not sure if that happened as if they went, they could not go into the fields for liability reasons. Room parents send extra goodies through the year to their classes to make holidays special. The school’s budget has been cut so they can only provide snacks to kids 3 times a week so SFK set up a snack fund for the school and raised $500 to provide snacks the other 2 days. Younger kids especially need a daily snack because they eat lunch at 10:30am and the school day ends at 3:30 pm so they’re usually ravenous by then. Thanks to all who donated to the snack fund, we received a very nice thank you note from principal Jolene.
Bright Start Mary Mousseau has been really busy with all the new babies arriving and is so thankful for all the wonderful baby supplies you’ve sent her way. The babies are in need of diapers and wipes so we are starting a Bright Start Fund at Lakota Friends Circle to send a monthly supply to her if we get enough donors. Please donate if you can.
Well that’s all the news for now, we’ll be starting a new project in November. Until then continue working on warm items for winter and Christmas gift projects. We don’t have individual lists for each area but warm clothing and blankets are needed by all the areas we serve, Mary at Bright Start mainly serves babies and their toddler siblings. Please join our Sew For Kids Volunteer group on Facebook to keep up with ongoing needs.
Other ways to help: Donate funds through Lakota Friends Circle monthly or a one time donation specifying how you wish your donation to be used……. Marty Indian school snack fund, perishable foods for the youth center and Women’s Shelter in Martin, diapers and laundry pods for the shelter or diapers for Bright Start. You can also designate your donation be used for the most critical need. Other ways to help, save your box tops and send to Marty Indian School for the Box Tops for Education program, and when ordering through Amazon use Amazon Smile and designate Lakota Friends Circle as your charity. Quarterly funds received from Amazon Smile are used to purchase gas for food and wood deliveries in the Wanblee community.
Thanks from Sew For Kids to everyone that helps make the lives of children and their families living on Indian reservations in this country just a little bit easier.