Summer’s winding down, days are getting shorter and temps are getting cooler at night which means fall is right around the corner. Children are back in school and like many kids across the country get up early in order to catch the bus for the long ride to school. Many people on the Rez live in rural areas and schools (tribal, public, private) are a long distance from their homes which means some children will spend over an hour on the bus every day. Many kids, especially the little ones, sleep on the bus until they arrive at school to get those extra ZZZ’s they still need. They also have to arrive early enough to have breakfast before classes begin. Nutrition plays a key role in a child’s ability to learn and some kids will arrive at school having had little or nothing to eat the night before so the breakfast they receive at school is vital for both their physical and mental health.
Because many households on the Rez can have 12 or more residents, kids don’t necessarily get a good night’s sleep so many are habitually tired. Most kids don’t have their own bedroom and may be sleeping in the living room on the floor with or without a shared mattress. There’s a lot of noise in homes with adults staying up or coming in late so it’s difficult to fall or stay asleep. I noted on visits to the Rez, that in many homes people are up late into the night and early morning hours. Many kids don’t own pajamas so will sleep in their street clothes or wear a T shirt and underwear to bed which is fine in the summer but not warm enough for the harsh winters of SD in the poorly heated and insulated homes most kids live in. Shared body heat from the family bed helps but isn’t the same as having a warm pair of pajamas and a blanket. If there is no mattress and you’re sleeping directly on the floor it’s doubtful you have a pillow.
We want to help kids stay warm this winter and get the best night’s sleep possible so this month we’re going to make PJ’s and pillowcases for the kids in Wanblee. They need pillows too so they can be purchased ready made or if you happen to have lots of fiberfill make your own. We’ve sent PJ’s in the past and the kids absolutely loved them as well as the pillows and pillowcases. They were so thrilled to get a “special” pillowcase made just for them!
So ladies get out your warm flannel and fleece and pajama patterns and get busy sewing for these deserving kids! If you want to help and don’t sew or are short on time, raid the sales racks at discount stores or shop the late season garage sales or thrift stores for deals. Sales have already started for winter fabrics if you need to stock up or raid your stash and combine different fabrics for a “custom” pair of PJ’s using color blocking, trims, appliques, etc. Make just the sleep pants and purchase a long sleeve top or make the set if you have enough fabric, even one pair of PJ’s will be a real treat for the kids. We need pajamas for boys and girls in toddlers 2-4T, kids 5/6, 7/8, 10/12, and teens 14, 16/18 and S/M adults. Used pajamas in good condition are certainly acceptable. Our goal is to provide 5 pair of pajamas in each size range, of course more would be better. Using fabric that’s unisex helps as we usually can’t get an accurate count of what is actually sent to the Rez. If you have baby sleepers feel free to send them along too. If you need free patterns check here , here and here . Please share pics of your projects with us so we can post them in the next blog.
Theresa High Horse has requested pillows and pillowcases for the kids again since her last “pillow party” was such a smashing success. The kids absolutely loved all the brightly colored pillowcases and if that wasn’t enough some received their very own pillow! She will need both pillows and cases again to hold another party and has kept a list of kids that received a pillow last time so those that still need one may get it this time. You can make them if you wish (young kids can have smaller decorator size pillows) or buy a few on the web and ship free. We would love all the kids to get a pair of pajamas and a pillowcase but if we don’t meet that goal we’re hoping at least to provide those kids that didn’t get a pillow and case at the last party with one this time around. Here is a great pattern to use for a pillow that will take you 30 minutes max to make and a way great way to use up those short pieces of cotton or flannel fabric. Non sewers and those short on time can of course send purchased pillowcases. Check Here for another way to make pillowcases.
We also want to provide pajamas for the children coming to the shelter (Sacred Shawl Society). No child will have PJ’s coming to the shelter as they will arrive with just the clothes they’re wearing and even if Mom had time to pack a small bag there are no pajamas to pack anyway. They want the kids to have a nice warm pair of pajamas to sleep in and be comfortable, especially since they’re coming in from a stressful situation. The shelter also wants the pajamas so they can provide something comfortable while the clothing they came in with can be laundered just to make sure there aren’t bedbugs, etc. PJ’s will be an ongoing need at the shelter, like socks and underwear they’ll leave with the child who’s worn them.
While baby sleep sacks and sleepers are needed and certainly can be sent, this project will concentrate on PJ’s for toddlers and kids in the same sizes as the Wanblee project. Our goal for the shelter is to send at least 3 pairs of PJ’s in the various sizes for each gender. If possible we’d like a few more in the toddler sizes because some are still potty training. Although the shelter can accept kids up to age 16, the Director expects to see children mainly aged NB- 8. Many kids on the Rez are bigger than their chronological age so the reason we’re asking for some larger sizes.
Women also need PJ’s and can wear sweatpants and sweatshirts or scrubs in large sizes 1X to 4X so if you have any in those sizes they would be appreciated. Some women will come in having been sexually assaulted so will need a medical examination, their clothing will probably be kept for evidence so they’ll need something clean and comfortable to wear.
If any of you like to knit or crochet or like to make fleece socks, those would be a nice accompaniment for the PJ’s to keep those tootsies warm.
Please make as many Pj’s pillows, pillowcases, socks and slippers as you can in any of the listed sizes and send them a the addresses here for Wanblee and for the Sacred Shawl Society (shelter) . If you want to join our Sew For Kids Volunteer site on Facebook or our Sew For Lakota Kids on Yahoo , we would love to have you work with us to help our Rez friends.
On a final note, in order for the shelter to open they still need some funds to pay salaries for the employees working at the shelter. Grants have been applied for but they haven’t heard yet if they’ll receive any. If you can help (any amount welcomed and appreciated) please go to their Go Fund Me page or their website to make a donation. They want to open the doors on October 1 as they’re getting many calls asking for help but for now they’ve had to turn them away. Please spread the word to anyone or any organization that may be willing to help them open their doors.
Thanks as always from SFK.