Sew For Kids 2014 Accomplishments and Christmas Party Report

Sew For Kids had a fantastic year which ended on a high note with another successful Christmas party being held at the Kennedy Center hosted by Jerome and Theresa High Horse. In the days leading up to the party, Jerome said “It was like a warehouse depot around here with FedEx, UPS and the post office all showing up around the same time every day.” He said to extend a big THANK YOU to all who contributed money, gifts and food to the party.  Without all your generous contributions a lot of kids would’ve gone home hungry and empty handed.

The Christmas party started at 3 pm, December 13th and finished with the annual Parade of Lights. The Parade had several entries, even the local food store closed up shop and entered a float. Floats mostly came from local service organizations such as police and fire departments, WIC, Head Start, etc.  Hot tea for the elders and hot chocolate with marshmallows for the children were served to help keep them warm during the parade. 400 people filled the Hall , they stopped counting at 400 so they’re not sure how many actually attended.  People were waiting outside for their turn to come in and receive a gift and something to eat.   Everyone was served a meal of 1 or 2 of the 1200-1400 sandwiches and a hot bowl of vegetable soup or beef stew made using more than 20 pounds of beef.  One hundred sandwiches were made and donated by the local store owner who wanted to contribute to the party, the rest of the food was made by the High Horse’s and volunteers from the community.  All the food was purchased from donations from our SFK group ($800+) and a few other organizations and NAHA contributed the beautiful Christmas decorations.

Jerome’s friend dressed up as Santa again this year and gave out the gifts.  Each child received a gift and a goodie bag filled with apples and oranges, peanuts and candy.  Most kids eat fruit out of a can, if at all, so fresh fruit is a real treat for them. Elders received gifts too as did most of the younger adults because of the generosity of this group and many others who helped make the party a success. The High Horses’ good friends from Wisconsin arrived early to help set up for the big event and brought many gifts as well. The variety of items that came in this year was fun for the High Horses to see, thanks to all of our volunteers adding a new look to their creations or making an item they had not seen in the past. Thanks to all the donations of warm hats, scarves, socks, boots, coats and blankets that people received at the party everyone went home warm.  Jerome said everything was in such pristine condition and the recipients were thrilled with their new clothes. Coats and diapers for the young ones came in from Running Strong  just before the party. Parents, who had children needing a coat, were told to choose one for their child from the many received. The elders thanked the High Horses for arranging and hosting such a wonderful event for the community and said if it weren’t for them their grandchildren wouldn’t have received anything for Christmas. Even those who came to help clean up the next day thanked Jerome and Theresa and said that without their sponsorship of the party and looking for sponsors to help their kids, Christmas would’ve been just another day on the Rez.  Clean up took most of the day but less than expected because of all the volunteers from the community that came to lend a hand.

The new tribal council members for Wanblee attended the party and were very impressed with what has been accomplished in the community over the last year. The tribal council for the Reservation has taken note of the positive things that have been happening in an area that hasn’t really received much attention or money from the tribe in the past.  With more supportive reps on the council, they’re hoping the tribe will help support future events for the community. They were so impressed with the High Horse’s they asked them if they could host a movie night for New Year’s Day if they provided the finances.  Jerome said,  “At this time Theresa and I really need to find a secret cave to hide in and catch up on our sleep!”

I will post  the Christmas party photos once I get them from Jerome. He has had problems downloading them. “There are many to view”,  he said.

I spoke to Jerome a few days after Christmas and he said they were receiving calls from people that were out of food and their children were hungry.  Luckily Running Strong donated 200 boxes of food to be delivered to those in need, right after Christmas.  Jerome and Theresa had to call on their “Woodchucks” to make food deliveries as they were in Rapid City working on tribal issues when the food came in.  Fortunately Jerome has developed a great working relationship with these young men and helped instill in them care and concern for those in their community that need help.  Jerome has been an ideal teacher and role model for them and he can now rely on them to help out in his absence.

Jerome headed to Texas to visit family for a few days but had to come back after 3 days as he was getting so many calls for wood and food.  This morning he and Theresa were heading to the food bank in Rapid City to get some food to distribute to those who are hungry. One of the new 501c3’s will hook up with the food bank but as yet has not been arranged.  The food bank knows Jerome and his needs and told them to come anyway and they will find a way to give them some food until an account can be set up. They can buy the meat and fresh veggies at 18 cents a pound and can get a deal on some of the bulk canned goods although we might get a better deal thru some of our sites. We’ll have more details about this as arrangements are made with the food bank.  Usually they need $300-400 per month to cover families who run out of food before their next food stamps or commodities come in. We’re so thankful, as is Jerome, for the small food items people squeeze into their boxes, or to those who send a monthly food box, it really helps those in need.

Jerome said people are also cold and in need of propane or wood, hard to deal with , with winter temperatures in the freezing range.  He and the Woodchucks were out cutting wood when I called last night. Fortunately, the individuals on this site have provided the needed boots and clothing so that they can do their job in the winter weather on the Rez. Because of those items, you are helping not just them but the others who are recipients of their labors.

Theresa, in addition to everything else she does, recently got a full time job as an assistant to the new tribal representative from Wanblee.  They will definitely have to recruit more helpers to get things done in the community.  A major advantage in taking this job is that Theresa thinks they will have an easier time getting help and assistance from the tribe.  Theresa’s first job was to get a list of those who were out of propane and she came up with more than 60 families.  The Shokabee tribe donated $100 for each Rez household for heating assistance which will help but won’t last long in their poorly insulated homes and the propane companies require a minimum order of $200.  It’s so hard for people to choose between food and heat so you can see why your warm donations make such a difference. If you wish to donate to the propane fund, you can send in a donation to Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, the 501c3 organization we are under.  Some of our members donated small electric heaters which families can use to heat a room where a mattress can be set up for sleeping.  I always remember a parent telling me how hard it is to get out of bed in the morning knowing the house is cold and would stay that way because they had no propane. Another advantage to the job is that Theresa’s new income will help the High Horses have some financial cushion as at present they live on a retirement income and have been using that to help those who call with a need if the resource is not there, their choice and the reason they came back to the Rez -to help their people.

That is that latest from Wanblee.

 Now to highlight Sew For Kids 2014 accomplishments:

Provided sheets, pillowcases, pillows, and blankets for the new mattresses that were donated by NAHA.  Bed frames were built by local men from recycled pallets.    Many families were helped and the pillowcases were a huge success with the kids, surprising even Theresa on how excited they were when choosing one for their bed.  Some volunteers made washcloths and sent towels, considered a luxury on the Rez.

Made tote bags and back packs for the Easter party, many volunteers sent candy to put in the eggs.

Made/purchased summer clothes for girls and boys. Girls who have never owned a dress got their first one from some very talented volunteers from Dress A Girl Around the World.

Restocked baby items for the daycare, WIC and the High Horses    They are known in the community now as the place to go to if you have needs for your baby.

Made/purchased school clothes, pencil cases, backpacks and school supplies.

Sent in seeds for their summer community garden.

Provided  warm winter gear including blankets, hats, socks, scarves, pj’s and warm outer wear for kids and adults.

Some of us helped with Halloween and Thanksgiving needs but this will be the last year for that as our main party events are Easter and Christmas.

Provided gifts and food for the Christmas party.

Provided movies, hot chocolate, tea, coffee and popcorn for movie nights.

Help set up the local sewing group, providing several new sewing machines, fabric and notions.

Responded to an emergency need for a family when a call came through.

Set up two working groups to discuss patterns, ideas, etc on Sew For Kids Volunteers on Facebook (thank you Lisa!) and Sew For Lakota Kids on Yahoo. Of course there is this blog and our basic Sew For Kids facebook page but the groups offer us a chance to chit chat and discuss new ideas. And with new members, come new talents, new skills and new friendships . We welcome all who craft, not just sewers and also those who do not craft but wish to help our cause.

When we started Sew For Kids, our goal was to concentrate on an area of the Rez that wasn’t receiving a lot of assistance but that was also small enough that we might make a difference.  We found Jerome and Theresa and all of you and together all our efforts are starting to make a difference in the community of Wanblee .We look forward to working with all of you to keep the momentum going and accomplish even more in 2015.  Because of our involvement, the community has seen there are people off the Rez who do care what happens to them and their families. In turn more people in the Wanblee community are getting involved in activities that help cement the community bonds needed to get a community working together for the betterment of all. With the feeling of hope people see less need to give up on life and the suicide rate has decreased with none occurring over the past 2 years.

We can’t solve all the needs and problems on the Rez nor should we, but what we can do is offer our help and support as they find solutions that work for their community and leads them toward a better future.  We can help relieve them from some of the day to day stresses that wears people down and takes away their hope for the future.

Thanks so much to all our volunteers this year!  I’ve said it before and will say it again,  YOU are the BEST!  We wish you all a healthy and safe 2015 and we hope you all will continue to work with us and spread the word.

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