Wanblee News for May

Its that time of month when we update you on the latest news in Wanblee.  We hope those of you participating in the Summer Clothing Project have had fun these past couple of months making  or purchasing items for the kids. We would love to see what you’ve been working on.  I know that dresses, shorts, tops , underwear, tennis shoes, flip flicks , socks , sunhats are several of the items that have been sent or are on their way to the Rez, thanks to our great group of supporters.  Jerome said the weather has been in the 90’s lately so the kids will have something cool to wear.  Weather is unpredictable on the Rez,  folks needed their coats over the Memorial Day weekend and a tornado touched down in the Black Hills area.

There are many projects planned for the Rez this summer with some already in motion.  The gardens have been planted with cold tolerant plants and the radishes and onions are growing nicely. Seeds that came in from donors and NAHA were distributed to families wanting to have their own garden patch.  Some of the seeds were planted in the community garden next to Jerome’s garden and there’s also an experimental pallet garden this year since they have so many pallets to recycle.  They’re thinking this type of garden might be easily managed by elders or children .

Jerome has a wall of over 400 pallets so they’re using this free source of lumber (most of it’s oak!) to build many projects this summer.  They’re currently putting the finishing touches on the chicken coop and have plans to build a dog house, birdhouses, and picnic tables.  It takes a lot of time and labor to recycle the pallets but will keep the young men busy this summer with plans to sell some of their finished projects.  Jerome said there are some families in need of an outhouse (he and Theresa built 15 last year) so they’re planning to use the pallets as there’s no money at present to purchase lumber. If  you’re interested in seeing what else you can do with pallets check out this site on Pinterest. Pictures below are from Robin Lober’s high school class who dismantled the pallets and built a chicken coop. Thanks Robin ( Hearts of the Sacred Spirit ) for sharing the photos.


You can find a picture of the nearly finished structure here .  Jerome needs to add some nesting boxes to them and then purchase the feed and water containers. A local rancher has offered him some chickens and a rooster to get him started. Jerome can always use advice on raising chickens as a lot has changed since he was a boy so if you have suggestions post them on the site and will pass them along to him.


Jerome and Theresa headed to Wisconsin Memorial Day weekend, trailer in tow, to speak to members of a church about helping fund some rehab housing projects in the Wanblee area and to pick up some furniture.  They needed ten beds for families some who had to destroy theirs due to bedbugs and were able to pick up five of those, some were new, some used. Homes will be thoroughly sprayed before the new beds are installed.  Stacey Lecas, a SFK supporter who lives in Wisconsin and is herself Native American, worked tirelessly to gather donations to send back with Jerome, she did such a wonderful job that they couldn’t fit everything on the trailer.  They are planning a trip to the Rez next month to deliver the rest and any other donations they can gather so if you live in the Wisconsin area and have anything to send, contact Stacey here.  Great job Stacey!!  The folks will also need new bedding (sheet sets, blankets and pillows)to go along with those beds so send Jerome’s way if you have any.  Donations never last long on the Rez, there’s always a family in need with most of those needs never being filled. Once Jerome arrived back in Wanblee he had one of those families in need, they were sleeping on the floor on blankets so he took the beds to them and also gave them the sofa and rocking chair he’d picked up, they had no other furniture in the house other than two straight back chairs.

Some of those pillowcases we made a few months back recently found a new home with some school children heading off for a weekend trip.  Myself and some other donors recently sent some new pillows so they each received a new pillow clad in a colorful new pillowcase for their trip.  The kids loved the different designs and the fact that no one else had one like theirs.  We may want to do this project again sometime as it was a huge hit!

Jerome is working on the inside of the storage trailer – putting in insulation and installing electric, he’ll also add skirting to help keep it warmer in winter.  The materials to do the job are stored in the trailer along with some shower stalls, sinks and toilets, donated from a contractor in ND.  They will be installed in homes when the rehab projects begin this summer.  There’s still plenty of room to store things in plastic containers as the trailer is 14 feet wide by 70 feet long so keep sending your donations.  I plan to send a donation to purchase more containers, Jerome can get them for about $5 each.

New storage container

New storage container

Other needs are a push mower and gas powered weedeater as Jerome’s are on their last leg.  They need them to keep the grass and weeds cut around the homes (and outhouses) of elders and the disabled so snakes can be easily seen and not stepped on, rattlers are common on the Rez. Used machines in good condition are acceptable as would be nice to have a few of each so can do it quickly. Great items to put on a truck if its going to the Rez. Also we are under a 501c3 ( Hearts of the Sacred Spirit) so can get a charitable tax donation if one is needed.

Jerome and Theresa attended an ambulance appreciation ceremony for her mother, Eleanor Charging Crow.  She and her late husband started the first ambulance service on the Rez in 1966 using a station wagon to pick up patients and take them to the hospital.  Eleanor still works there at the age of 83, not driving patients but helping with laundry and other jobs.

Theresa says the local daycare can care for 3 babies and 7 toddlers as well as several school age children and have very few toys to play with.  Now would be a good time to pick up some toys for them with all the garage sales going on in your local towns.  Also a good time to go through your closets and kids toy boxes to see if you have anything they’ve outgrown or don’t play with.  Some suggestions:

Blocks, larger lego-type so they can’t fit in small mouths

Plastic trucks, cars, trains, etc.

Farm animals, larger

Balls – nerf balls are softer and safer

Puzzles, large pieces for toddlers, 100 piece for older children

Jump ropes

Sand box toys; plastic buckets, shovels, etc.

Craft items; crayons, markers, construction paper, glue sticks, safety scissors, etc.

They have plenty of  books for now and don’t want any stuffed animals as they need to be washed regularly and they don’t always have laundry soap.   When they are lucky enough to have soap it’s used for the essentials, many times employees will take out of their own pockets to provide it.  Theresa gives them soap off the NAHA truck if they receive any. I think the book issue is due to space issues. If they get to many then they send  them home with kids.   Would love to see something like this around the area, even outside the daycare, Head Start etc.  Stuffed animals and books can still be sent to give to WIC and to the nurse so please send if you have them, but mention whom you intended them for. Most people going to the daycare are using WIC.

The school year is coming to a close so graduation ceremonies will be held for those in grades 8 and 12.  Sadly only about 25-30 percent of children will finish high school with many not even experiencing an 8th grade ceremony. Recent article addressing some of the reasons here.

Jerome and his men are still cutting wood, local ranchers want their creek beds cleared so cattle can get to the water.  They want to take advantage of the good weather as it’s much easier to cut wood in the summer months and many of the men don’t have the appropriate clothing or shoes to work in the brutal winter weather.  The young men are helping him with this project.

Movies are being held when the weather permits and many thanks to those who sent the popcorn and other supplies, it simulates the movie theater atmosphere for the kids.

Theresa’s women and girls are sewing and they’re in need of fabric, scraps are welcome too as their first project is a basic quilt.  Sewing notions are needed too so if you’re sending fabric please add some thread, needles, etc. to your box.  Maybe some of those picnic tables they’re making this summer could be used for a “sewing bee”  placed close to the trailer so they could use that electric source and not have to pay the $50 fee for renting the Kennedy Center, at least while the weather is warm.  Sewing machines and projects could be stored in the truck ready for the next meeting.  We’re crossing our fingers and hoping the sewing project takes off and is successful, it would be a great skill to learn and also a good project to keep kids busy.

May 31st will finalize our summer clothing project for the kids and we appreciate all of those that participated.   Please continue to send your summer things through the first couple weeks of June.  June’s project will be sewing for babies up to 24 months, more information on that project in the next blog.

We also want to thank Jane J and her husband Larry for sending work boots for the men, so  badly needed and they were thrilled to get them.   Work boots are expensive and out of reach for most men on the Rez.  The wood cutters always need them, Jerome says they come to work wearing tennis shoes!  Jane works for General Mills and was able to get spices from her employer for the Rez and she also sent laundry soap, toiletries, garden seeds, winter accessories, tennis shoes, etc. along in her boxes.  She also organized a school class to make tied fleece blankets for the kids on the Rez as their class learned about Native Americans.   They hope to do this again next year and hope other classrooms will join with them. Jane already has a head start on our baby project – making flannel receiving blankets. Thanks so much Jane for organizing this learning project and getting the word out about needs on the Rez and thanks to your employer General Mills for their generous donation.

Please send your donations here.

We would love you to post photos of items you send on our flickr site on this page so all can see the great work the group does.  I have to fix a few things on the site but will let you know when you can post.  You can also post photos on our Sew For Kids Facebook page , and if you are a member ,on the Sew For Lakota Kids yahoo site   and the Sew For Kids Ravelry group.  As always,thanks from Sew For Kids.





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