Spring hasn’t sprung yet on the Rez, the Easter party “BBQ “on March 27 had to be held inside the Kennedy Hall but the kids and their families made the best of it and still had a fun filled day. The kids did get to have their egg hunt outdoors, but hurried in to get warm after it was over. Warm clothing provided by members of this group made sure the kids who wanted to be warm had something to put on. Hot dogs and fresh veggie cups were served for lunch, purchased by the High Horse’s from Sam’s Club in Rapid City. The Rez is making an effort to serve healthy food as many are overweight and at risk for diabetes, they’re even serving water for drinks. Bob and Mary from the non profit, Families Working Together came for the party and brought 3000 stuffed Easter eggs and many other things with them. Monetary donations from SFK, Pine Ridge Elders, Ravelry group “For the Children of Pine Ridge, and Lakota Friends Circle were used to purchase food and the bikes for the raffle, many donors from these groups also sent Easter baskets and other gift items for the prize table. Here is a note from Jerome High Horse about the party.
“Please thank all sponsors for there support, the weather was good, the vegetable cups were great, all the children enjoyed the event. We couldn’t give everyone an big item, just the lucky one’s whom found papers in there eggs.
We had an sign in sheet, when it got crowded, an the hunt begin, everyone was outside, we lost count. Estimated 200 plus children, parents didn’t sign in.
And the party photos.
NAHA delivered a few pallets of seeds for gardens this summer so as soon as the weather cooperates garden prep can begin. They’ve already had their annual garden lectures from a Native Heritage teaching organization learning about new techniques to use along with their traditional methods. Vegetable gardens help supply families with healthy food during the summer and the winter too if they know preservation methods.
Jerome has been busy delivering food boxes from Running Strong and the food bank in Rapid City to those in need and the “Woodchucks” are still busy cutting and delivering wood to families that need it to heat their homes. Monetary donations to Lakota Friends Circle provides gas money so the High Horse’s and their volunteers can pick up and deliver food and wood. Jerome recently received some saw blades, etc from the Dean family to help keep the saws running.
A big thanks to Cheryl Torres and her son for future donations of sturdy gloves and other supplies her son’s business will be making to help the wood program. The Rez cuts wood all year long but try to do most of it during the warmer months to get a supply built up before winter arrives. Jerome and Theresa made a trip recently to Wisconsin to speak with Families Working Together about plans to build a community center in Wanblee. The Kennedy Hall can’t be used on a daily basis, it’s too expensive to rent and tribal politics interfere with their goals for the center which is to provide a place where families can come and learn new things, kids can have a quiet place to do homework and participate in after school activities, and for distribution of food and clothing to needy families. You can read more about it on Facebook at Families Working Together. Funding this project will be first and foremost, we’re hoping to hear more about this venture in the future.
The last three months have been a busy time for us at SFK and we’ve accomplished a lot. Since January we’ve been stocking the closets at the Sacred Shawl Society’s shelter for babies and toddlers and have managed to fill a lot of their needs. I recently talked to shelter director, Kimmie Clausen, and she said they’ve reorganized their clothing storage system so containers only have one size so they can locate items quicker and not make such a mess trying to find what they need. This also allows them to see the stock they have on hand and what sizes need refilling. Kimmie also shares the extra clothing and other items we’ve donated with the public health nurse who sees new mothers and their babies two weeks after birth for well being checks, immunizations, etc. The shelter recently teamed up with 3 nurses from “Bright Start” an organization that services babies 0-2 years all across the Rez. This group provided training to the staff at the shelter on issues they need to be aware of such as safe sleeping habits to help prevent SIDS, etc and in exchange the shelter provided the nurses with 50 bags filled with things for babies and toddlers they can distribute when making home visits to families. Thanks to your generous donations many moms and kids across Pine Ridge are being helped and there’s still plenty left over to store for shelter needs. Bright Start also gave Kimmie two pack and plays so they can make sure moms are not sleeping with their children while at the shelter. Kimmie said she’s learned a lot from the nurses and has made some needed changes to shelter policy. They’re also working with LOWO, the foster care system on Pine Ridge, which has helped evaluate living conditions in the homes kids will be returning to after leaving the shelter. Children can’t return to abusive situations nor can they live in unsafe homes. It’s extremely difficult to find decent places to house families, there’s a severe housing shortage all across the Rez which makes their job even harder when it comes time to leave. Kimmie says it’s been a huge learning experience for her these past few months and realizes that they need to hook up with other organizations as they can not do it all and because they need these organizations to help their clients when they leave the shelter. She and her staff are attending ongoing training sessions to keep up with all the latest requirements. Word has gotten out about the shelter and the help they’re providing so donations you send to Kimmie are helping women and children across Pine Ridge. Here are some photos of some of the items sent for this drive. Many volunteers sent items but did not post a photo to our Sew For Kids Volunteer site so am sharing what I have to give you an example of items that were sent in. We buy at times as cheaper than making items when there are great sales. We have lots of talent in our group. I am not sharing items that were sent from the Ravelry group ” For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation, the Halfknits or Pine Ridge Elders because I do not have access to those photos. There are a lot of talented and generous ladies in those groups as well.
Kimmie was ecstatic when I last talked to her as she was finally able to find funding for computers for the youth center in Martin after applying and being rejected for the past 4 years. The center is a remodeled double wide mobile home that provides a safe and welcoming place for youth in the community to hang out. They will have some food available for kids that are hungry as well as a place to sleep for a few kids, if needed, until their home situation improves. They’ve asked community members to help oversee the center and work with kids on skills they’ll need to succeed in life. The kids have a full load of activities planned for the summer including working in community gardens and visiting cultural and historical sites, such as Wounded Knee, so they can learn about their culture and what it means to be Lakota. The community wants kids to be proud to be Lakota and know their history. They also want to teach kids some of the traditional Lakota crafts and will need supplies, we’ll let you know of needs when we receive a list. Kimmie has shared clothing you’ve sent with kids in need at the youth center so once again many children are being helped by your generosity.
This past month we helped promote the annual Dr. Seuss “Read Across America” day with Crazy Horse School in Wanblee by sending books and activities for the kids about animals which was this year’s theme. Kids had a lot of fun that day reading about animals and doing lots of animal related crafts but the fun continues with all the new books we sent.
There is no main library or librarian at Crazy Horse due to funding issues so each classroom has their own small library. The principal distributed the books we sent to the appropriate aged classrooms and each month they’ll do a book exchange so classrooms get a “new” library every month. Kids are required to take a book home every night to read, thanks to you they have many more to choose from now. Currently Crazy Horse is looking for grants for a new playground. They want to develop some exercise activities for children and their families to encourage fitness to help keep their weight under control which is a contributing factor to diabetes which is almost epidemic on the Rez. Access to good, healthy food is also another factor as they live in a food desert. They would also like to have some shade and picnic tables at the playground to encourage families to come out. If you would like to help the school with funds for a new playground or vegetable garden you can donate on the Go Fund me site where they’ve set up an account for Crazy Horse School. Other ways to help the school are sending in “box tops” labels for education and metal tabs from soda cans, they can turn either of these in and get needed items for the school. Shoparoo is another organization that gives points to the school for copying your shopping receipts.
A picture is worth a thousand words, please take time to look at some of the other wonderful things this group has sent to PRR the past few months. These were for the Easter party , for older kids at the shelter or Wanblee or for putting away for next year’s party events. We have great shoppers with lots of talents on this group. We’ll soon be starting a two month summer clothing project, details asap!
We want to thank each and every one of you for making each project for the Rez not only possible but such an overwhelming success! We’re so fortunate to have so many talented people in our group that are willing to share their time and talents with those in need. Thank You for making your group Sew For Kids the success that it is!
And if you want to join us you can find us here –Facebook Sew For Kids Volunteer group and the Yahoo group Sew For Lakota Kids. You can post comments or questions on the blog at the top of this page . We would love to here from you , but better still have you join our cause and sew /craft along with us for the kids on Pine Ridge Reservation in SD.