2015 Christmas Party Brings an End to SFK Accomplishments

Happy New Year to everyone from the Sew For Kids crew!  2015 was a great year for us, we made new friends and had new volunteers join us from across the country and even a few internationally.  We joined forces with groups such as Ravelry, PRE (Pine Ridge Elders), and FWT (Families Working together) which means more people could be helped and more programs receiving support.  We added a new program, the Sacred Shawl Society’s domestic abuse shelter in Martin and we’ll be branching out further in that community in 2016.   We learned new sewing skills this year from our fabulous volunteers and received daily inspiration and support from all the group posts and photos of their latest projects.  Each volunteer brings with them a new set of ideas, new skills, a compassionate heart and a desire to help others.  Our volunteers are the reason SFK has been so successful in helping more and more people and programs every year.  There isn’t enough time and space for us to ooh! and ahh! and gush over the quality and attention to detail they put into each and every item they send to the Rez.  Thank you ladies for a job well done!!

As we read through the blogs from 2015 and contemplated about projects for 2016, we decided to recap all the accomplishments you made throughout the past year, and they are many!

We started out the year in January and February by making baby and toddler items to be sent to the High Horse’s in Wanblee for distribution to new parents in need.    Providing baby supplies to new parents (many of them teens) helps alleviate some of the stress they feel as they try to cope with the demands of a newborn and being first time parents with few resources at hand.  Items were also shared with the local daycare center where many children arrive with dirty and wet clothing due to a lack of laundry facilities and extra clothing to change in to.   The local WIC office, where women come to receive their monthly food stipends, immunizations, medical advice, education and help with other issues were also recipients of your kindness.   Some of your donations were used as incentives to encourage women to come in with their children so they could be evaluated and possibly catch any issues early before a major problem occurs, which is a real possibility with inexperienced moms.   Also during those first two months we were still sending warm clothing, hats and gloves and blankets as winter was still in full force and Jerome was getting daily requests for anything warm as families had run out of money which meant there was no fuel to heat their homes.  Jan Eggert said she wanted to celebrate the new year by doing something nice for someone every day of 2015.  She started by sending many boxes of warm things for the kids and she continued to send things throughout the entire year and finished her New Year’s resolution by sending another new sewing machine for the Sewing Circle group.  Thanks to you Jan and to all our donors who sent fabric and sewing supplies so ladies could make things for their families and to sell for income.

The month of March was used to make gift items for the Easter party which turned out to be a huge success.  As usual you went the extra mile to make things special for the kids.  New pillows were sent to go along with all the beautiful pillow cases you made, a gift the kids love and keep asking for.  Many sent donations to purchase bikes for the raffle, Brenda B. sent 1000 coloring books!  One of our volunteers, Donna Snider,  contacted the local school principal on her own and sent books and activities for the kids to celebrate “Read Across America” month.  Many thanks to her for her donations and for inspiring us to participate as a group this year.

Summer clothing for kids was our project in April and May.  Girls received beautiful dresses, skirts and tops from our talented seamstresses, which many people raved about on the Rez.    Boys got a new pair of shorts and a shirt for summertime play so they didn’t have to wear hot jeans in the stifling heat.  Many of you sent flip flops, sandals, sun hats, sunscreen and new or gently used clothing too.  Summer clothing isn’t something kids usually get new or at all as any available money is used to buy extra food to feed children home for the summer and to get ready for the upcoming school year.

June’s sewing project was making school bags, backpacks and pencil cases and to begin watching sales for supplies to fill the bags.  Many of you sent donations to help purchase food for the July 4th party and  to help raise the $500 needed for repairs on a donated fire truck.  Thanks to you they now have two trucks available to fight bush fires.  Several volunteers also sent popcorn supplies, drinks and some new videos for movie night, something the kids really look forward to during the summer.

In July one of our members alerted us to a new domestic violence shelter opening on the Rez in Martin called the Sacred Shawl Society.  Contact was made with the director, Kimmie Clausen and we made a new friend and found a new project needing our help.  Janet Schnurlein, my co administrator, visited the shelter in July on her way to the Rez and dropped off a car load of clothing, food, two sewing machines and many other supplies she and her sister-in-law, Ruthie Gruel, had been collecting.  Janet met Kimmie at the new facility and  she gave her a personal tour of the facility and learned of other things they still needed to open and of their future plans.  Most of the items needed for day to day operations of the shelter and clothing for their clients came from our group.  We sent kitchen supplies and small appliances, towels, bedding, clothing, cleaning and laundry supplies, toiletries, toys, baby gates and other safety items so they could pass inspections.  The Ravelry group “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” and Pine Ridge Elders helped the cause as well.  Barb Reinert was a big supporter of the shelter and won a $1000 gift certificate from Yerdle and asked that community to help the cause.  Laurie Allen delivered sheets and towels to Kimmie on a trip to the Rez donated from a hotel her daughter works for.  Thanks to everyone that helped with shelter needs.  We’ll continue to support this important program and may add the youth center Kimmie has opened as well.  Many teens on the Rez are at risk and need to have a place to hang out, do homework, get something to eat, or just have someone to talk to and listen to their problems.  With over 100 teen suicide attempts in 2015 and 20+ succeeding, this youth center is definitely a welcome addition to the Martin community, hopefully more can be opened across the Rez.

For the August project we made school clothing, purchased underwear, socks, and shoes, and sent school supplies including paper, pencils, pencil cases, folders, crayons, backpacks, etc.  One of our members, Darlene Dean, drove out to the Rez with her husband to deliver a truckload of donations they had been collecting from family, friends and local community.  On that truck for the kids and their families were toiletries, shoes, PJ’s (62 pairs!), food, clothing, bedding, towels and toys.  Many thanks to Darlene and  family for their generosity!

In September we held our “Pajama Party” when we made (or purchased) 159 pair of PJ’s, 30+ pairs of slippers, 85+ pillowcases, and purchased 84 new pillows to send to the Rez.    Many kids on the Rez have neither PJ’s to sleep in nor a pillow to lay their head on so they were thrilled to be receiving these which were mostly given out at the Halloween party.  There’s never enough pillows to go around so we were asked to make more for Christmas gifts.

October winds started blowing on the Rez and we responded by making mittens/gloves, hats, slippers, scarves, and blankets and sending warm coats and clothing.  Many of the warm knitted and crocheted items came from the Ravelry group “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” and the Yahoo group “Pine Ridge Elders”.  Many afghans were donated by “Halfknits” and our own members Beulah Lindberg, Carol M , Marilyn Lee Bellonci, and Vicki Sick.  Beautiful sweaters and accessories were knitted by Karen Sheets, Brenda Budd and many others.  Some of you helped with the Halloween party sending decorations, prizes and donations for food.

November was a very busy month for our Sew For Kids Volunteer group.  Our Christmas elves made or purchased countless gifts for the 500+ kids who would be attending the Wanblee Christmas party.   We can’t take all the credit as there was plenty of help from other groups  but our small group certainly made a pretty good dent!  Most of the Christmas items were sent to Jerome and Theresa as the shelter wasn’t officially open but a few gifts were sent to the shelter.  Through Kimmie we learned of a grandmother caring for her 16 grandchildren desperately needing help.  Our group jumped right in sending clothing, bedding, household items, blankets, toys, coats, shoes, boots, underwear and socks, gift cards and countless other items.  We can’t begin to list the help our members gave to those in need in other parts of the Rez, their generosity ranged from solar lanterns and heaters for students to helping a new mother with nothing for her baby.  We are so fortunate to have this group of incredible ladies working together helping those in need on the Rez.  Thank you hardly seems adequate, bless you all for your kind hearts!

December was our time to finish up projects and ship all the gifts for the Christmas party and to continue sending warm winter gear and blankets.  There are so many people to thank, if we left you out it certainly wasn’t intentional. Thanks to Penny Nickols for spearheading the doll project and for all her help with patterns, updating the database and anything doll related.  We had over 75 dolls of all sizes, shapes and colors to send for Christmas.  Penny, Carol, Deidra, Jill, Deanna and many others purchased most of the dolls (and made clothing) and enlisted help from other SFK members to sew clothing for them.  Members made and shipped clothing to the owner of the dolls so they could be packaged together for delivery to the Rez.  Thanks for sewing the beautiful clothing goes to:  Angela B, Barb R, Brenda B, Beulah L, Billie P, Darlene D, Janet S, Katie S, Linda R,  Ruth G, and Vicki S.   For the boys there was “Dress A Bear”  headed by Donna Snider.   Another group of ladies felt boys might be overlooked in the gift department and decided to focus on “boy stuff”.  Those volunteers were Angela B, Barb R, Brenda B, Cynthia D, Deanna W, Gaylen D, Jill D, Laurie A, Linda D, Lisa, Stacy C, Margaret H and Penny N.  Angela, Barb and others sent gifts for teens as they wanted to make sure they weren’t left out on Christmas, thanks ladies!   Many thanks to those of you sending items for the elders, crock pots, blankets, hats, mittens, towels, etc. which was a last minute request from Jerome and Theresa.  Thanks to Lisa for all her work keeping the volunteer group site running smoothly and managing member requests and for posting untold numbers of links for free patterns and valuable information for everyone.  Thanks to all our members that are constantly watching out for information from the shelter or for other news of interest across the Rez, you all must have eyes in the back of your head!

The following note was received from Jerome shortly after the party.

“On the parade we distributed candy bags and gifts, elderly’s received blankets, gloves, crock pots and caps.
All children received caps, toys, gloves, stuffed animals, most received 3-4 gifts.
The 12 Elfs volunteers came from Trimont, Minnesota.
Our 6 grandson’s helped with the distribution, they all said others need them.
Santa was very happy to be here, he said of all the places he goes, this is very memorable, thoughts of gratitude, appreciation and true Christmas Spirit.
We appreciate, if you would give our heartfelt thanks for all the sponsorship and assistance to community Christmas.
Months of planning was very memorable for 2015
We are tired and worn out, we will be home.

“God Bless y’all and Have A Merry Christmas with your Families”

We can’t possibly thank everyone that helped in 2015 but it’s not for lack of trying.  We’re undoubtedly going to miss someone in the course of a year so if you don’t see your name just know that everyone is important to the cause and we are grateful.  If you didn’t send anything but told just one person about the plight of Native Americans on reservations or gave just one person a link to our site than you helped more than you know.  As we said earlier, without our team working together we wouldn’t be where we are today nor would the communities be enjoying the support for their programs you all so generously contribute to.  So A BIG THANKS to all of you from Sew For Kids!! We do hope you’ll stay with us as we head into the new year.  The new project list for 2016 will be up in a day or so but until then we can tell you January will be focusing on things for babies and toddlers so get ready!   Please take time to look through the photos below of some of the events and accomplishments of 2015.

We at SFK wish you and your families all the best in 2016.  We’ll end with another note received from Jerome yesterday,   “God Bless y’all.  Tell all sponsors, we wish them an Happy New Year”!








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