Back To School Time

It’s hard to believe but school starts on the Rez in less than two weeks.  The weather this summer has been cooler than usual with lots of rain until mid July when things started heating up.  SFK spent most of July sewing/buying  skirts, shorts and tops so kids will have some new clothes to start out the school year.  Some parents won’t send their kids to school until they receive funds from the tribe for school expenses as they’re afraid of being judged for not being able to provide for their children.  The downside of this practice is kids miss the start of school which puts them behind the other students and the monies allotted for each student is determined during the first week of school according to attendance, so everyone loses when kids don’t start school on time.

Our project for July was to provide new school clothing and judging by the numbers we met our goal.  Our volunteers made # skirts, # shorts, and # pants and either sewed or purchased a shirt to complete the outfit.  Some bought outfits as well. The pictures below show the beautiful results of what can happen when a group of caring and talented seamstresses get together!  The lucky recipients of these beautiful clothes will truly feel special on their first day of school.

Kids always need school supplies, socks, shoes and underwear on the Rez.  The sales are on in the big box stores so now’s the time to stock up on paper, notebooks, folders, paper, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, erasers, glue sticks, pencil cases and book/messenger bags.  As you shop for school supplies think about how a good education can be life changing for a child  and they need these tools to start their journey.  Pencil cases and book bags can be sewn, there are lots of free patterns across the web.  Some kids might use their bags from last year, but most of the younger ones have beaten theirs up pretty badly and will need a new one.  Sales are on for socks and underwear too and any of the above can be purchased now and sent for Christmas gifts.  Jerome sends many thanks to all of you for the supplies already received including the box he received from Australia from Linda Faulkner and sends his sincere thanks for her gifts to the kids etc.

We’ve had a few new members join our group this past month and would like to extend a warm welcome to each of you.  We’re so thankful you’ve decided to join our efforts in supporting the community of Wanblee and the new women’s shelter in the neighboring community of Martin just 30 miles away.  Kimmie Clausen, director of the shelter and Jerome and Theresa from Wanblee have told us we are major contributors to their projects and without our help they would be doing their work with a lot less.

In other news, Youthworks will leave this week.  These young people come in groups all summer long, stay for a week and help paint homes, mow lawns, weed gardens, and do various odd jobs for the community.  They’re very helpful and hard working with many promising to stay in touch and send things back for the community.  Group leaders from Youthworks and a few other visiting groups have offered to send loads of wood from the Nebraska and Colorado areas.  Speaking of wood, a few ranchers about 60 miles away asked Jerome and his men to stop by the ranch and cut the wood that’s blocking the creeks because of the work of some very busy beavers.  The Woodchucks haven’t been around much this summer as they get work in tourist areas, but those jobs will soon be coming to an end.  They volunteer their time in the off season cutting wood for Jerome and the community so the money they make during the summer helps them get through the winter when they’re unemployed.

The fire department sponsored a parade on the 4th,  kids got to see demonstrations of some of the equipment and received some fire safety education. Several people made a second fire engine possible because of the funds donated to repair the donated truck. We helped with some party food and some of our supporters sent in games. The kids had lots of fun evident in the below pictures.

The ambulance department has taken over showing movies and have been showing them outside all summer.  Good to hear other organizations are getting involved in some of the community functions and giving Jerome and Theresa some much needed help.   Jerome did mention they could use more popcorn, oil and bags if anyone would like to help.

NAHA and Running Strong are still helping out with some of their basic needs so we’re hoping that will include school supplies and maybe some toiletries too. They don’t know what’s on the trucks until they arrive and neither do we so needs are always changing if certain items do not come in. They’re still getting volunteers to help unload the truck and do the sorting.  Jerome hasn’t been to the food bank this summer as they haven’t had any meat and that’s what people need.  There’s a possibility they may be getting some food from the Sioux Falls food bank in the future, during a recent visit they told Jerome they’re in the area every six weeks so we’re keeping our fingers crossed they’ll come through for them.

Once school starts kids will receive breakfast and lunch and a snack before leaving for home which was started last year in case kids didn’t receive dinner at home.  Theresa does get many knocks on her door from hungry kids asking for a sandwich and even receives calls from elders asking if they can get something to eat so she knows first hand who’s the most needy.  Many thanks to those of you who sent coffee, tea, spices, flour, baking powder, yeast and sugar, the women were really in need and so thankful for your kindness.

The Pow Wow and  Sun Dance were held in July and everyone had a good time.  Jerome had to help rewire the grandstand and buy lights because the wire was just buried on the ground and not in a conduit so the lights were no longer functional.  The 4 day ride to Rosebud will still be held but Jerome and Theresa may not be with them as they’re heading to Texas for a week to visit their daughter and granddaughter as soon as Youthworks leave. They need a break from the long hours they put in every day with community needs and from Theresa’s new job.

For those of you that like to work ahead September’s projects will be pajamas for the shelter and Wanblee and pillows and pillow cases for Theresa and Jerome so they can hold another pillow giveaway which was so successful last year.   Many kids wear their street clothes to bed or just their underwear which might be ok in a warm home but not so good in a poorly heated one.  At present the shelter has no pajamas for the kids so are really in need of some before they open.  This will be a continual need as moms and their kids will arrive with little or nothing  so the pj’s will be sent with them when they leave.  They’re also in need of kids clothing 0-5T and women’s plus size clothing 2-4X and new women’s underwear sizes 10-12.  We’ll be working on some kids clothing projects for the shelter in a few weeks, more on that later.

Our thanks to all of you who’ve helped with our summer projects.  The women’s shelter is set to open October 1 due in large part to the generous contributions they’re received from this group.  Please send your donations here and send a SASE if you would like a reply, buying stamps is expensive for these organizations already strapped for funding.   For a tax receipt include a list of items sent in the package and request it be signed, dated and returned in the envelope.  Both Wanblee and the shelter are happy to do it for you and appreciate all the work it takes to get a package to their areas.

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