It won’t be long before our beautiful fall weather is replaced with winter’s minus degree wind chills, howling winds and winter storm warnings. Stores have been promoting Christmas since September and we’re already hearing about “black friday” sales. The winter season changes things drastically for people living on the Rez. Roads become impassable and houses are cold as people struggle to chop wood for their stoves or find the money to buy propane and pay their electric bill. Nutritious food and warm clothing and blankets are needed to make it through the winter and are hard to come by for many.
Christmas is a time kids on the Rez look forward to each year, if they haven’t received anything special thus far, they might just get lucky and get a gift from Santa as he makes his rounds. We support two parties every year but Christmas is a magical time for kids and the one we focus special attention on as it also happens to occur in winter when kids need our help the most. We’re fortunate to have groups like Ravelry’s “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation“, Yahoo’s “Pine Ridge Elders“, Families Working Together, Lakota Friends Circle the Halfnits and Hearts of the Sacred Spirit to work with as we all try to make this celebration special for children and their families.
The date for the party is December 10th. Jerome is just trying to get thru the Halloween party and still needs to meet with locals that host the Parade of Lights and of course Santa to decide the time when he and his elves should arrive with their gifts and holiday cheer to the area. The party will be held in the newly constructed community building and although it won’t be fully completed, it will provide a warm place for the party. They will be serving cookies, hot chocolate, coffee and cider. They’re asking for donations of hot chocolate, nuts, candies, coffee and popcorn (not microwave) to make popcorn balls, which can be sent to the High Horse’s. Kids and teens infant to age 18 will receive a gift with younger ones getting toy items and hopefully everyone getting warm hats, scarves and gloves, including elders. SFK members are currently working on blankets and afghans to give out to those that need one, at the party. Throughout the year Theresa saves things from the trucks to make gift bags for the elders at Christmas, some years are better than others it all depends on donations. They are expecting 85 elders this year.
They are estimating between 500 and 600 kids might attend as there are over that number in the local and surrounding schools. We’ve asked for a breakdown of ages and gender so we can plan accordingly, but if we don’t get those numbers we’ll need to concentrate more on gender neutral gifts. In previous years the younger kids and girls tend to get the most donations, while older boys in the 12-18 range seem to get the least. This year we would like the gifts wrapped or bagged with age and gender attached to the outside of the package to make sorting easier for Jerome and Theresa as they will be busy with other party preparations. Please keep your gifts simple and choose ones that can be used many times, and discourage sending battery operated toys unless they’re still playable without them. Gifts in the $5-10 range is what we’re aiming for and you can make or buy a reusable bag to make your own unique gift, suggestions are below:
- Sports Equipment – soccer balls, basketballs, baseballs/mitts, jump ropes, Nerf balls, etc.
- Arts and Crafts – drawing paper, “how to draw” books, writing journals, pencils and pens, markers, crayons, scissors, construction paper, glue, craft and jewelry kits, beads and supplies.
- Toys – coloring/activity books, puzzles, card or board games, cars and trucks, dolls, etc.
- Books – board books for the little ones and books for both genders up to late teens.
- Bedding – pillows and pillow cases, blankets/quilts/afghans, sleeping bags.
- Teens – toiletry kits containing soap, shampoo, deodorant, etc. hair items, jewelry and nail polish for girls, flashlights and manicure kits for both, baseball caps, hackey sacks for boys.
- Accessories/clothing – warm hats, scarves, gloves or mittens, socks and underwear, pajamas.
- Babies – Blankets, safe infant toys, board books, warm sleepers, buntings.
The age ranges are 0-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, and 13 up. We hope to have estimates for each age and gender group which we’ll post when received. Please add your gifts to the list here so we can see what is still needed.