My apologies for not being active on the site the past few weeks. We spent last week with our new 3 month old granddaughter and her parents, which we thoroughly enjoyed. The previous week good friends from Illinois arrived and we spent the week exploring parts of California together and catching up on the local news of the place we lived for 34 years. Family and friends are so important to our lives and we loved spending time with them.
Summer is winding down and children across the US are starting back to school, Wanblee student’s first day was August 28th. The Labor Day break a few days later allows them to ease into the new year slowly.
Theresa and Jerome have been receiving lots of items for school – backpacks, pencil cases, school supplies, school clothing and they send their thanks for all your help in making sure kids are starting the year with new clothes and the supplies they need to start learning. Last week the High Horses drove to Porcupine to pick up a delivery of backpacks donated by Running Strong, this is the first year they’ve received “back to school” help from this organization. Hearts of the Sacred Spirit sent many filled backpacks as well for the kids. Thanks to all the generous donations this year most students will have a bag and some supplies to get started. Jerome thinks there will be enough left to give some backpacks to a tribal school about 30 miles away. When I called the other day Theresa had people knocking on their door asking for help with school supplies. By donating to the back to school program we’re encouraging students to attend school in an area where attendance is a problem and we’re helping parents free up some of their money so they can use it for other essentials such as food, electric, etc. Continue sending any school supplies you have, students will run out and need to be re-supplied and extras can also be used for gifts at Christmas.
Jerome and Theresa had pretty much given up on the back to school picnic idea as all their funds were spent on the extra fuel needed to pick up long distance donations and making more deliveries than usual around the Rez. Their daughter still wanted the kids to have their party so she provided the hot dogs, hamburgers, buns , watermelon and fruit juice for a cook out using the barbecue grill that Jerome designed. They had a beautiful afternoon for the cookout and the kids received their school supplies and backpacks. Afternoon turned into a nice evening so Jerome decided to show a movie as some of the kids were still there. Some of our generous supporters recently sent in a fresh shipment of popcorn and supplies so they enjoyed fresh popcorn along with their movie. A popcorn machine was donated a while back by members of the local fire department so that made for a real movie experience.
Jerome and Theresa received another call last week from Running Strong to pick up food donations for the area and with the help of several volunteers, they put together 300 boxes of food for distribution from contents of the boxes received. Many items are divided into small amounts and packaged in plastic bags or containers- like coffee, sugar etc. Some boxes were picked up at the site but many others had to be delivered to folks with no transportation. Some of the gas money needed for the deliveries came from a newly formed 501c3 organization, (still waiting final approval from the IRS), called Lakota Circle of Friends. We will hopefully be working alongside them as they plan to help Wanblee and the surrounding areas. Once they get their website up we’ll share that link and give you more information about them and which projects they plan to help with. We all may have a slightly different focus but with Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, Sew For Kids, our Ravelry Sew For Kids Knit and Crochet group, the Halfknits, Pine Ridge Elders and Baby group, Dress A Girl Around the World, Running Strong, NAHA and the newly formed Lakota Circle of Friends working together hopefully we can make a difference and help make permanent changes to the area that will make life better for it’s residents and give them hope for the future. Many of these groups are small but what they lack in numbers they make up for in the generosity and determination of their members. When we formed Sew For Kids our idea was to work with a smaller area on the Rez so we could make more of an impact. The biggest challenge for us was finding people on the Rez to work with, fortunately we found Jerome and Theresa High Horse who’ve been a dream to work with. Because Wanblee is in a more isolated area of the Rez we’ve found the people there to be so appreciative of any help that comes their way.
This past month Jerome and Theresa received a donation of 100 queen size mattresses from NAHA and have since delivered them, with the help of their trusty volunteers, to people needing one. Many on the receiving end had never owned a mattress and others had never had a mattress that large. Jerome and his volunteers want to make more pallet bed frames so that will be one of their Fall projects. Unfortunately on delivery day Jerome slipped and fell when his bad knee,(soon to be repaired), gave way and he landed on his elbow. He chipped his elbow, twisted the wrist on his other arm and his right leg. He will have to be on “consultant only” duty for many of the projects in the next month or so until he gets himself back into a more functional state. We wish Jerome a speedy recovery from these recent injuries and with his upcoming knee surgery.
The house for Bernadette is nearly finished but due to some unforeseen issues during the build, work was delayed and will be completed by some construction friends of Jerome’s from Wisconsin. When the home is finished we’ll be sharing pictures. The home is livable now which is good for Bernadette as she and her son were living in a tent during the construction process.
News from Sew For Kids….We want to thank all of you who have sent donations recently. Many of those shipments came in without a return address so Theresa couldn’t send a thank you letter. The High Horse’s are most grateful for all the donations they receive and like to acknowledge your gifts. They’re used to seeing packages arrive from the US but were recently surprised to see boxes from Quebec, Canada and as far away as Australia. The box from Australia contained some adorable stocking type caps and she would like to thank whoever sent them. A BIG THANKS to those donors who hear about us and help in their own special way. Please remember to add a note with your address so they can acknowledge receipt and thank you properly. We also like to acknowledge donations from SFK donors in our blogs.
One of our supporters, Darlene Dean and her husband, made a recent trip to the Rez and visited with Jerome and Theresa. Their 2 daughters helped with the purchase and collection of items that filled 20 boxes! They took things for the school project- clothes and school supplies, winter items including hats, boots, coats, scarves and shoes, outerwear for various ages, blankets, underwear , socks and PJ’s, toiletries, and OTC drugs, baby items, coloring books, food, popcorn supplies, party dish and cutlery supplies, sewing supplies, 20 pairs of leather gloves for the Woodchucks, ice scrapers, tarps, chainsaw oil and many other items not listed. They took everything but the kitchen sink, it was just like Christmas! They plan to make this a yearly trip and are already collecting for next year. A BIG thank you to the Dean family for their generosity!!
Cheryl Torres, long time SFK supporter, has been quietly sewing fleece sleep sacks for the new babies on the Rez. She’s made more than 30 to date and they come with a matching hat and mitts. Cheryl loves babies and so do her granddaughters who helped her with packing the boxes and of course their suggestions on color choices. Thank you so much Cheryl for all your hard work. We don’t hear a lot from Cheryl, now we know it’s because she’s too busy sewing!
Another of our faithful volunteers, Beulah from Wisconsin, (who just turned 81 a couple of weeks ago), recently finished 20 messenger bags with matching pencil cases for boys in grades K through 2 and added socks and underwear to each bag. Many thanks, the boys will love them! Beulah is our “Recycle Queen” and can remake, repurpose and reuse just about anything. She’s also a retired professional seamstress having made dental uniforms for the trade and sewed everything for her 3 boys while they were growing up including snowsuits, coats mittens, everything she said except their underwear and socks. Hmm… she must’ve run out of time on those socks, she knows how to knit.
Margaret Hrbachak, another of our valuable senior volunteers, recently sent in lots of school supplies along with dresses and PJ’s she made and is already busy working on her adorable Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls to be given out to some lucky kids for gifts at this year’s Christmas party. She’s another of our “quiet” volunteers we seldom hear from but she’s always busy working on something for the kids. She’s a longtime supporter of Pine Ridge and has sent things to the Rez for many years. Thank you Margaret for your continued support!
Carol Binnie-Johnson and her supporters from Dress A Girl – Tucson, have been busy once again making dresses for the Rez. Supporters from many states in the US sew dresses and send them to Carol for distribution. Katie, one of those volunteers and an expert seamstress, focuses on sewing dresses for plus size girls which are especially needed as most of the clothing donations that come in on the Rez are in the smaller sizes so these girls are usually left out. Another new volunteer has been sewing long sleeve dresses for the girls to wear in cooler weather. Many of the women who sew for Carol’s group request their dresses go to children in the US so this has been a great match for us to have them working with our group. Carol and many others have sent sewing supplies for the new sewing group which has been meeting and sewing informally at the High Horse home but plan on renting the Kennedy Hall for some serious sewing when they can afford the rental fees.
Jan Eggert sent in lots of clothing and backpacks that will all be put to good use. Jan and her husband are great garage sale people as are Janet, my co- admin at SFK and her sister-in- law Ruth. They even went to many of those sales on their vacation, now that’s dedication! They are collecting coats (75 so far) and other warm items to ship to the Rez in late October or early November. Jan E and her husband hope to visit with the High Horse’s next year.
We’re not officially working on Christmas gifts yet but Donna W. and her granddaughter have finished 20 tote bags for the younger kids for gifts and she’s asked her friends to help fill them with crayons, coloring books, etc. Kudos to Donna for cultivating her granddaughter’s giving spirit and to her for spreading that spirit to her friends. There’s nothing more inspiring than kids helping kids. Her granddaughter also sews dresses for girls through another project, what a wonderful young lady and we’re grateful she chose SFK to work with!
We’ve decided for September to start working on warm items for the inevitable cold weather that usually makes an early appearance on the Rez. Warm blankets are always needed and now there are 100 new beds out there needing blankets, mattress covers/pads, sheets, pillows and pillow cases.
Blankets/quilts/afghans are needed in baby, youth, twin, double and queen sizes. Of course clean, gently used items are always welcome. The children’s pillowcases we made earlier this year were a big hit so now’s your chance to make some for older teens and adults. Also very much needed to get a good night’s sleep are pajamas in all sizes. You can make the bottoms from fleece or flannel and buy a long sleeve T-shirt for the top or make the top and buy the bottoms, any combo works. Get friends or families together for a fun social day.
Just as a heads up for those who are not blanket makers, warm outer wear items are much needed and will be our project in November and December. Some of these items will be given out as gifts at the party and our October project will be making/purchasing Christmas gifts. I ‘ve heard the Pine Ridge Elders/Babies group and the Halfknits have already gotten a head start on the Christmas and winter warmth projects. Whatever skill or interest you have we need your help, just find a project you like to do and dig in!
Please send all your donations to the High Horses here. Again thanks to everyone that gave so generously to our Lakota friends. We continue to be amazed at the generosity of SFK volunteers, you’re the best!!