Its been a while since the last blog post but we know our group has been busy working on the summer clothing project and many boxes of goodies have already made their way to the shelter and Wanblee. The shelter will always have a huge clothing need, regardless of the season, as most kids arrive with just the clothes on their backs. This past week three teen boys arrived and they had nothing in their size, they could really use boys boxers, shorts and T shirts in sizes 14-20. When clothing and other donations arrive in Wanblee they’re usually given out right away as they have no storage area, the trailer that was originally purchased to store clothing and other goods is now filled with all the building materials they’ll need for the house rehab project this summer. Jerome and Theresa had previously stored what they could in their basement but that area is presently serving as a home for a needy family. Volunteers will soon be arriving to help build the new community center (with storage area!) and to help elders and other residents with home repairs, painting, gardening, etc. Youthworks volunteers are arriving now and will work into mid August.
Both Martin and Wanblee had asked for kids summer shoes and many of you answered that need by sending new and gently used shoes, now they can do all those things kids do in the summer with decent shoes on their feet, Thank You! Many of you sent underwear and socks to the shelter and, like shoes, are always in high demand. Lots of baby and toddler items including diaper bags were sent to restock the shelter and to help with the Bright Start project. A new stroller was purchased for the shelter so women can now take their babies for a walk and both can enjoy the fresh air and exercise. Many books, toys, dolls, etc. were sent to help kids enjoy their summer. Keeping young minds active with positive activities is so important for kids and unless they’re going to summer school, there’s little for them to do. If you’re still working on summer items or find them at garage sales or thrifts, please feel free to send them as August and September are still warm months on the Rez and kids can wear them when they start school. Youth programs are sorely needed in most areas on the Rez and is the main reason Kimmie Clausen, Director of CDC, the youth center and women’s shelter in Martin and Jerome and Theresa High Horse in Wanblee are advocating for a place for kids and adults to hang out in the summer and on weekends.
A big thanks to all of you that sent clothing, underwear, shoes, etc. for women at the shelter. If women are admitted as a rape case they need new clothing because what they’re wearing will be taken as evidence. Most women are leaving in a hurry from a violent situation which doesn’t allow time for packing a bag. The shelter still needs women’s packaged panties in sizes 6, 7 and 8 and sports bras in sizes small to X large. Another need when clients leave the shelter is a tote bag for clothing and other items they receive while there. Tote bags, duffels, drawstring bags, etc. would all be great to send.
In January we posted our list of projects for the year in this blog. It’s time to move on to our next project which has lots of opportunities for shoppers and sewers alike. Summer PJs, pillows, pillowcases, bedding and blankets to keep people comfortable on those cool summer desert nights are always appreciated. Theresa High Horse said larger blankets in double and queen sizes are always needed as many households share a family bed. Most elders use twin size bedding and it’s rare to see a king size bed on the Rez. Some families just sleep on the cold floor until a mattress can be found for them. Gently used sheets and blankets are welcome as are towels and washcloths and can often be found at thrifts or garage sales or in our own closets. New bedding and towels are welcome, of course, but are costly unless you find a good sale so we feel it’s better to have good used linens than none at all. Sleeping bags are another great thing to send due to the bed shortage, please launder if sending used and add a sheet insert so the bag stays clean and just the sheet needs laundering.
Another project to work on this summer is helping families get their kids off to school on the first day by donating clothing and school supplies. Many parents keep their children out of school until they can find the funds to purchase what they need. This practice gives kids another hurdle to overcome as they’re behind their other classmates when they finally do join them. Their absence also affects the funding their school receives for each student as the census is usually taken during the first two weeks of the new school year. Let’s help the kids start school on time by donating:
- Washable markers, fine and wide tipped
- Glue and glue sticks (melt in the mail in the warmer months)
- Paper, loose and spiral bound, wide and/or college ruled
- Pencil cases
- Pens, pencils, sharpeners, erasers
- Safety scissors
- Sanitary hand wipes
Sewers, please feel free to make pencil cases and backpacks, especially for the younger kids as they can be easily washed and reused.
Those making Christmas gifts that are labor intensive might want to start their projects now. The Sew For Kids Volunteers Facebook group is already working on our doll project and a few other things that will be shared when we get to October and November. The Wanblee Christmas party is a big deal on the Rez and our group goes all out to make sure it’s special for the kids. This may be the only time a child receives a gift/toy throughout the year. Jerome and Theresa try to make sure each child gets a fun gift or two, warm mittens and hat and a treat bag filled with fruit, nuts and candy. Knitters and crocheters can help with the hats, scarves and mittens which can be started now or in August and September when we’ll begin working on warm items for the winter ahead. Christmas gifts for kids at the shelter is harder to predict as we don’t know how many will be there. We can continue to send comfort bags and small gifts and toys that can be kept on hand and used for the holiday if needed, more on that as the year progresses. Well that should be enough to keep you all busy for the next couple of months, summer is a time for fun so please take time to enjoy it. Another blog will be up soon reporting the latest news from Martin and Wanblee.
Last, but most certainly not least, we want to welcome all the new members that have recently joined us. Each of you brings your own special talent, a kind heart and a wealth of new ideas to share with us as we work together helping the children of Pine Ridge and their families. We look forward to learning new things, sharing ideas and becoming new friends, we’re honored you’ve chosen our group to share with. Thanks to everyone for your continued support and generosity, we have the BEST volunteers!!