Well this past week here in the Midwest, at least in my neck of the woods, has been sweltering hot though nothing like the Southwest and some of the Pacific regions, but enough for me to put the air conditioner on. I tend to use fans, dress appropriately for the weather and drink lots of fluids but when the humidity is unbearable I use the air. Turning on the air conditioner is not something that happens a lot on the Rez, there are few air conditioners and many survive the entire summer without a fan. Most don’t have the funds for the initial investment and even if they could come up with the money the wiring in many homes is substandard and not able to handle the power load. Most wouldn’t be able to pay the extra costs on their utility bill and would then risk losing their power and other services provided by utility companies. And there is usually no money available from the tribe in the summer months to help with the costs, its long gone before the end of the previous winter.
So— why blankets now while it’s so hot? Well, because protection against the elements is always an issue and while heat can be a killer for the very young, elderly and those that are ill, the winter cold tends to be the bigger threat. Winters are usually brutally cold on the Rez and there is a real risk of death from hypothermia. Many families are living in homes with poor or no insulation, lack of adequate doors and windows and limited funds to pay for propane, wood, or electricity. Add to that lack of proper winter clothing, especially warm coats, gloves and boots and not enough warm blankets for everyone in the household. Because of this, we need to get a head start on making blankets as there are never enough made at the time winter weather strikes. Brrr makes me cold just thinking about it!
We continually need blankets for babies appropriate for the season – receiving blankets, and light blankets for summer; quilts and afghans, wool and fleece blankets for winter. Nurse Debbie takes blankets in her diaper bags to moms of newborns on her 2 week postpartum baby and mom check but she also looks around the home to see needs that aren’t being met for the other kids in the family. She may also have families come to the clinic needing warm items so she likes to have them on hand to hand out to children during their visits. Nurse Michelle on Rosebud only needs baby size blankets appropriate for the season.
This past year we had a request from the Wanblee daycare center for blankets to keep kids warm while they read, play games or watch TV, as the room they use is poorly insulated and cold. They could still use more youth size blankets as they do wear out with continual use by the kids and many trips through the washer and dryer. Many times parents will ask the staff if they have any extra blankets because they don’t have enough for everyone to have one at home.
Lots of families sleep together in the family bed which consists of a large mattress on the floor in one room of the house. This keeps people from sleeping on the floor where drafts coming thru the floorboards is a problem and also helps them stay warm as they huddle together. Warm blankets of any type that fit a double/full or queen bed are needed for them.
Kids who are traumatized whether it be from abuse, a family fire, loss of a loved one, landing in foster care, dealing with health issues, etc. often seek comfort in having something that is theirs and a “security blanket” is one way to help comfort these children. Such is the idea behind the organization “Project Linus”. December is only 6 short months away, blankets make wonderful Christmas gifts too!
Jerome and Theresa get many requests from families that knock on their door or call asking for something to help keep them warm. They can usually provide wood for those with wood burning stoves but can’t always provide funding to all those that call for help with utilities. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit ,which concentrates its efforts in the Wanblee area and on Rosebud Rez, will often help out families with children, elders and people with medical issues, if money is available. In the meantime, having warm blankets to give out, does offer some relief from the cold.
Making a blanket can be a group effort, if you have friends that knit and/or crochet make individual “granny” type squares (few or no holes are warmer) and designate someone as the “joiner” and you can whip up one of the larger size afghans in no time. Use your odd balls of leftover yarn to make the squares, Lakota love color and the more the merrier. The same can be said about making squares for larger quilts. If everyone pitches in a few dollars for shipping the project doesn’t cost anyone a lot of time or money and you get the satisfaction of helping someone in need. Of course you can make your own blankets as I’ve been doing. Would love you to share your photos of items you or a group have made, pattern sites are also welcome. If you have spare sheets, pillowcases or pillows, please include them as well, another thing most people on the Rez don’t have.
Blankets are desperately needed in all sizes, check this size chart for dimensions, we really never know how many to make for the drive but here are some goals for this drive. Simple but functional is all we ask . If you can make the quilt fun for a child, all the better. Let us know what you are able to provide so we reach our goal.
Baby – 40 any type of blanket- 20 for Wanblee- 20 for Rosebud babies
Youth/single bed- 20
Double/full or queen- 10
I’ve been concentrating mostly on knitted blankets as have balls of yarn in my closet begging to be used and have completed 2 with 2 more in progress and finished the bindings on 3 quilts. In a week when my cast comes off and I do not need to use crutches to prevent me from weight bearing on my foot, I will share some photos. My sewing machine heads off to California July 26th so I can’t do much until it arrives and I get myself installed in my new home.
Warmer blankets can be sent starting in September to the High Horses at this address. The blankets will get distributed from there to the various places that need them. Baby blankets, appropriate for the season, are accepted all year long. If they are for nurse Debbie in Wanblee, send to Jerome and Theresa, where she will pick them up and if for nurse Michelle on Rosebud please send here. Storage space (there isn’t any) is a major problem which is why we try not to send too early in the season. Our hope is that in the future, funding will be available to build a storage building so we can send goods as we make/buy them.
Thanks to all of you from Sew For Kids. Happy Needling, no matter which way you choose to make that blanket! If you are unable to help now, we will be making more blankets later in the year.