Holiday Round Up on the Rez

This blog is long overdue, I had good intentions of posting before Christmas but life around here, at least this year, has been hectic to say the least. Many have emailed asking about the Christmas party so here’s what you’ve all been waiting so patiently for……

The Christmas celebration kicked off with the second annual Parade of Lights, there were 14 floats in the parade with three of them coming from the communities of Martin, Allen and Pine Ridge.  It appears this will be an annual event and hopefully will continue to grow with each passing year.  Santa arrived in style by sleigh as Wanblee had just gotten a fresh layer of snow ordered by local children I’m  sure.   Some old friends of the High Horses (Santa included) and many from the local community of Wanblee joined together (20+) to help out with the festivities and were essential for the party’s success.  They made sandwiches, cooked soup, decorated the hall, wrapped and sorted gifts and of course helped with the clean up after it was all over.  Jerome and Theresa High Horse both grew up on the Rez and raised a family of 7 children before leaving for several years living and working in many states across the US and returned to Wanblee about 6 years ago to help their people.  They developed many good friends in their time off the Rez and many of those friends came to help them with the party.

The truck from Wisconsin, provided by Worldwide Hunger Relief arrived on the Rez later than expected, the day before to be exact, so there was a frantic rush to get everything together for the party the next day. Gloria and Lisa, whom we helped with the Christmas box drive,  also arrived following behind the truck in their car.   Presents, party food, decorations, warm clothing, sheets, blankets, household goods and items for our baby program were all unloaded from the truck before it left making it’s way to other parts of the Rez to deliver much needed items to communities in need.  Many other donations arrived including a shipment from Hearts of the Sacred Spirit with 400 gift bags assembled by high school students containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, etc;  a friend arrived bearing 600 small gifts they had collected, several members of the Pine Ridge Elders group sent in items they made for kids and adults and Billy Mills’ organization had warm blankets and coats to donate. A NAHA truck arrived with 350 turkey dinners which were given out to families Jerome and Theresa knew were in desperate need of food including one household that has 31 people living in a small 3 bedroom house.

Over 500 children showed up for the party and with the adults that accompanied them the total attendance was about 700-800 people.  Food had to be set up outside as the Kennedy Center isn’t big enough to accomodate a crowd of that size.  Many people sat outside as well and fortunately the weather was tolerable, elders were given a warm place to eat in a room behind the kitchen.  They served more than 20 gallons of soup, hundreds of sandwiches (5 rolls of bologna, 8 rolls of salami), mugs of steaming hot chocolate with cookies for dessert.  Goodie bags were made from all the donations of apples, oranges, trail mix and candy and were given out to each child.  After the children finished their meal they came through the Center and received their gifts from Santa including a blanket, small gift bag, 2 other gifts, their choice of books and a sandwich and cookies to take home. Hats and mittens were handed out to those in need. Also some of the warm items were saved to give out to the riders, many of them youth, for the Big Foot Ride that started on the 26th.

Gloria and Lisa delivered food and gifts to 7 different households that couldn’t attend the party.  The residents of those homes welcomed them in and were so overwhelmed with gratitude for including them in their celebration, they thanked them many times before they left.   There were enough things left over after the party to donate to 2 churches on the Rez so they could have a Christmas party for their communities. Pictures of the event will be posted once I receive them.

Everyone take a bow, pat yourself on the back we did it again, the party was a success!!  Children and their families went home with their stomach’s full, their arms laden with gifts and a big smile on their faces.  This is why we exist and do what we do, to give hope to people that sometimes don’t have a reason to hope.

Another exciting thing that’s happened in Wanblee is the arrival of a semi trailer the day after the party that will be used as a storage container for all the donations SFK and others send to the High Horse’s. Funding was provided by a small foundation that felt storage space was sorely needed and would be a great asset to the community. Jerome and Theresa have been storing whatever donations not immediately handed out upon arrival in their basement, especially out of season goods, which left little room to process and store new deliveries arriving several times a week not to mention losing the use of part of their home for their own needs.  The trailer will allow them to store donations that come in for all seasons and to keep goods on hands for emergencies including food. Jerome’s friend has applied for a grant to install electric in the trailer so they can hook up freezers to store food that comes in from  NAHA and other donors.   Shelving will also be added and eventually plastic containers purchased so clothing can be sorted into sizes so they can see where the shortages are which will make things easier for SFK  as we can do a drive for specific items.

Everyone at Sew For Kids hopes that all of you enjoyed the holidays with your families and wishes you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014.  We can’t thank our dedicated supporters enough for all the help they’ve given us over the past year.   The new year will bring new needs and challenges which we hope to meet with your help.  We can’t do it without you so please continue to support our efforts to help those on the Rez.

And on a final note, Jerome sent this note to me to pass on to all of you.

“Thanks for the support to our community Children and Families this year 2013.
God Bless and Have A Merry Christmas
Wopila, Thanks,

Jerome”

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