December Rez Happenings

Well now that we’ve all made it through Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday, we can start getting ready for the December holidays! Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving with family and friends and didn’t gain too many pounds. The party on the Rez was a success with about 240 people sharing a scrumptious dinner, 205 served at the center and the rest of the meals were delivered to the elderly and homebound.  There were even some leftovers that folks could take home!  A generous person from the Rez donated a frozen turkey, ham and all the trimmings for a door prize which was won by a large family of 8 who now have all the goodies they need for a Christmas feast.  Jerome said the family was especially in need of help so this was a wonderful gift for them.  Thanks to everyone that donated food, money and their time to help make this a success, it is greatly appreciated by us here at SFK and everyone on the Rez.

Lots of things will be happening during December in Wanblee starting with their first “Parade of Lights” on the 15th and the arrival of Santa Claus.  Those entering floats in the parade are students of Crazy Horse school (they’re so excited!), Head Start, Eagle Nest College, which is a branch of the main campus of OLC in Kyle, the local ambulance service, police department and an area church.  Plans are for all entrants to meet beforehand, share hot drinks and snacks then proceed with the parade.  A dinner of soup and sandwiches will be served afterwards at the Kennedy Center and Santa will be handing out gifts, they’re expecting about 300 people to attend the festivities.  Members from another group I belong to, have made a Santa suit and toy bag.  Monetary donations are always welcome to help cover the cost of food, if you would like to make a tax deductible donation, please send to Hearts of the Sacred Spirit here.

Some of the gifts given out at the party won’t be fancy or new but certainly needed, such as toilet paper, laundry soap and warm clothing, with many items coming from our group members.  Theresa said they’ll be hanging all the donated coats on a rack for people to choose from if they don’t have one. A big thanks to Amy G and her Canadian group for their coat, hat and mitten drive and of course to all of you who have packed coats in the boxes you send . Theresa is hoping to receive warm mittens, hats and scarves to go along with the coats; I know lots of us here at SFK are working on those right now. Any blankets they receive will be given out as door prizes. SFK and a few other groups have sent in some and are still working on those too. Any patterns you have to share are always welcome and also your photos keep us all inspired.  It’s not too late to send warm clothing, accessories, socks, shoes, boots and coats they will be needed as long as winter is here.

Hearts of the Sacred Spirit has collected about 150 Christmas stockings for the kids through their annual toy drive, some of which will head to Wanblee on the 7th of December. Donations are still being accepted here or you can send items directly to Jerome and Theresa.  If you have time and would like to sew, knit or crochet a stocking they would be welcomed as well. All donations of money or goods are considered a charitable donation and are tax deductible.

Before the end of the year, Jerome and a group of young men are building a home for an elderly man (by Rez standards) who’s been living in a very small trailer with no insulation about 20 miles outside of Wanblee.  Nancy Bishop-Ward, one of our members,  spent some time in Wanblee and saw first hand the condition of Rolland’s current home and upon her return home started a Facebook page called “Helping Hands for Rolland” . Through this page she has collected the funds needed to build the home, donations are still being accepted.  Hearts of the Sacred Spirit is also involved in the project and donations can be made through them for a tax deduction.  One generous donor from the site is donating a bed to Rolland, the first in his life!  Others are donating warm sheets, blankets and a wood stove.  Rolland lives without running water or electricity, although Jerome recently bought him a solar lantern so now he can stay up a few hours later if he chooses to do so. His brother, a few years ago received a home, and while not big, it sure does the job of keeping him warm.

The wood program is in full swing now, many families don’t have the money to pay for a load of wood but tell Jerome they will give him what they can to help with gas for delivery when they have money. The main goal of the program is to keep the kids, the elderly and the infirm, warm and whether they have the money or not, Jerome helps.

Jerome and the young men clean out the creeks for the ranchers and this wood heats homes. Saw blades, gas for the saws and delivery and lubricants for the saws are always needed. If you would like to help fund the wood program, donations can be sent to Hearts here.  As I was riding home on my bike the other day, 24 degrees F outside and windy, I said to myself “Boy, I’ll sure be glad to get back in my warm house”, something we’re sad to say can’t be said by many folks on the Rez.

Shortly after Christmas there’s a plan to start weekly activities for the kids which may include movies, games or an educational evening with local law enforcement. Winters are long and kids need to be involved in positive activities. Suicide takes its toll on this age group who see no hope for things to get better in the future. Police officers will teach children about bullying, drugs, alcohol, and gang activity, all issues they face on a daily basis. The officers purchased a popcorn machine for the center along with a supply of popcorn, oil and bags which will last a while but will need to be replenished.  Donations of popcorn, drinks, movies and games would be welcome for this exciting new program for the children.

And finally, shortly after the holidays, Theresa and a group of local women are going to start a sewing group, making items for their families and also some projects to sell and raise money for community activities.  They will need fabric and notions to get started but we’ll list the needs once the group gets ready to start.  They’re hoping area youth will be interested in learning how to sew.  One of our dreams at SFK was the Rez would eventually join along with us on sewing projects.

On December 23rd the annual Chief Big Foot Ride, renamed “Future Generations Ride” takes place which commemorates and retraces the 191 mile path Big Foot and hundreds of Minneconjou and Hunkpapa men, women and children took from Standing Rock Reservation to Wounded Knee on Pine Ridge Reservation ending with their slaughter by the US Calvary on December 29, 1890.  This is an important event for all Lakota but especially the youth that participate in the ride as they learn of their history and culture and keep the tradition alive for future generations.  Some of your gifts of warm winter gear may be doing “double duty” as local Wanblee folks will be joining the ride.

Wow, sounds like I better get busy making more hats and mittens!  If you’re sending things for the party on the 15th, check your delivery dates which depends on your shipping method.  If they get there after the party, winter will be around for a while so will still be needed. We hope to get pics of the party and the parade of lights,  to share with you.  Thanks from SFK for all you do for the children.  Don’t forget your local communities this winter, children are in need everywhere. I’ll be making some things for kids to be donated to a local soup kitchen.

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