As mentioned in the last blog Marty Indian school has a room they’ve turned into the “Feather Store”. It’s not made of feathers nor does it house birds but instead is a place where students come to “buy” school supplies, shoes, toys, etc. using feathers for currency. They earn feathers by displaying the four Dakota values of Courage, Generosity, Wisdom and Bravery. Gina Curran, school principal, explains further.
“The Feather Store is stocked with basic school supplies, donated toys, etc. Children earn a feather for displaying the Dakota values and their parent also earns a matching feather. They can then go to the Feather Store and use their feathers to purchase shoes, school supplies, toys, clothes, and so on. Parents can also go to the store and spend their feathers on care packages (dish rag, soap, tooth paste, tooth brushes, combs, feminine hygiene items), t-shirts, backpacks, etc.” They prefer to have kids earn some of the things they need/want instead of just handing things out We applaud Gina and the school for implementing this program which gives people a hand up, not a hand out.
New toys or in gently used condition are needed. They may include coloring books, crayons, puzzles, games, Lego type blocks, cars, trucks, sports items, stuffies, dolls, backpacks and pencil cases filled or empty, craft items, etc. Battery operated toys aren’t the best choice since they probably don’t have the money to replace them, exceptions would be toys that are still “playable” without batteries. Since there’s a feather value assigned to each item in the store,depending on what they want, may require kids to save their feathers which in turn teaches them patience and the value of saving money. We’re leaving the choice of what to send up to you, the experts, you’ve always done such a marvelous job on all our projects and know you will on this one as well.
Gina also wants to start a “Sponsor a Classroom” program so classes can get items they need and maybe kids can receive a special treat on holidays. Volunteers would essentially be virtual classroom parents. Gina says she will make sure there is communication between teachers and their classroom sponsors. They’re currently trying to encourage all parents to attend their child’s student-teacher evaluation. Reading through some of the classroom notes to parents it looks like a few classes reached that goal and others nearly reached it.
There are 6 classrooms, grades K-5 with a total of 95 students. If we get at least 2-4 sponsors per class we’ll work with Gina setting it up. We don’t have the numbers of each class or genders (there are more boys) but will get further information if enough of our members are interested. I was a room parent for a year in the kindergarten class of Our Lady Of Lourdes School on Pine Ridge Reservation and had the best time filling needs that were missing in the classroom. For Christmas I asked each of my neighbors to fill a stocking I had made for each child, they were very generous and all of us had the best Christmas that year. The teacher was so thankful she could make her student’s experience in Kindergarten a good one, as it should be. If you would like to help in the classrooms please contact us here or here.
Other needs for the classroom are nutritious snacks that teachers can keep in their rooms for kids who are hungry, especially the ones they know will not be getting dinner that night. Kids are very active and rapidly growing and although most eat the two meals served at school, they sometimes need a morning or afternoon snack. Presently the Special Ed teacher is buying snacks using her own money which isn’t always possible At Crazy Horse School in Wanblee, and probably others across the Rez, kids eat more on Friday and Monday because there may not be adequate food at home. Food is more plentiful at the beginning of the month when families get their food stamps but supplies dwindle as the end of the month approaches and kids go hungry. The school will send home lunch leftovers for those who are the neediest. Having a backpack would again help protect kids privacy as they take home food or other items to help them.
Another way you can help the school is by collecting and sending box tops to the school to support the “Boxtops for Education Program. They also collect metal pull tabs from beverage cans and other cans and send them to the state at the end of the year to earn credit for their school. Please get your friends and family involved in these collections, it costs nothing and you’re just simply cutting box tops off or saving tabs from products you already buy and it can make a big difference to the school.
If you would like to help us with the feather program, sending nutritious snacks, or the boxtop program, for the school please send items to this address:
Via FedEx or UPS
Marty Indian School
c/o Gina Curran, Principal
100 S Main St
Marty, SD 57361
Via Post Office
Marty Indian School
c/o Gina Curran, Principal
Po Box 187
Marty , SD 57361
Please enclosed a SASE if you want a response back so there will be no mailing expense for the school. We are developing a form you can use to have sent back to you to verify your donation and will share it with you on our facebook page once it is completed. We will be sending some to the school along with the some envelopes and stamps for those who forget to send them. The school is a 501c3 non-profit so your gift should qualify as a charitable tax deduction but always check with your accountant. Since the school is considered a “business”, don’t forget to check the “This is a business” box if you’re preparing your Fedex or UPS shipment online or tell the clerk if using a shipping store. The rates are cheaper than sending to a personal address. You can also require a signature so you know your package was received.
Education is the key to a successful future for kids, so lets support that effort by helping with the resources they need to keep them moving forward!