What’s Happening in Wanblee?

November’s here, too soon for us as we still have so many things to do before the holidays arrive. Sew For Kids, along with many other groups, are beginning to send gifts to Wanblee for the annual Christmas party.  With over 600 kids and 85 elders to provide for there’s still plenty of work to do and we’re confident this year will be just as successful as previous years in providing gifts for the kids. Elves have been working overtime in the doll factory to get nearly 100 dolls ready for Santa to give out to little girls. Others are busy making/buying other toys as well as warm hats, scarves, mittens and blankets to help children stay warm this winter.  We’ve heard over and over from volunteers that although they’re extremely busy they actually feel relaxed instead of stressed because they’re having so much fun dressing dolls, quilting, knitting and crocheting!  We’ll be sharing plenty of pictures and more information once our work is near completion.

Jerome High Horse recently asked if our group might be able to help a homeless father and son with some needs. The father suffers from heart failure and both he and his son are unemployed which is common on the Rez. Their days were spent wandering in search of food and a place to sleep for the night so they could get a little rest and escape the elements. While Youthworks volunteers were in Wanblee helping with projects over the summer, the plight of these two men came to their attention and some of them went home to Minnesota and found a trailer they could make into a home for the men.  They worked with the tribe to find a tract of land for the trailer which was delivered the last week of October. They’re still waiting for water and electric service but a wood stove and solar panels have been installed, an outhouse built and the tribe has provided a large container of water for them to use while they wait for a permanent water source.  Sew For Kids and the Ravelry group, “For the Children of Pine Ridge“, sent lots of wonderful things for their new home including dishes, pots and pans, linens, towels, warm items, a coffee pot, food and many other items. We’ll be sending clothing and shoes when we receive sizes from Jerome.  A very special thanks to all of you that took the time to help make this trailer into a home for these two men, they both had tears in their eyes when they saw what people had done for them.  These are the notes Jerome sent:

10-22-2016- This is a great day, they were very excited when we picked them up.

10-24-2016 – This morning David came to see us.  He expressed this is a dream, I woke up at two in the morning, wood stove was warm, made coffee, cooked deer meat and potatoes, and don’t have to worry where to go today.  This is a grace of God and a great blessing.

We thank everyone for there sponsorship, two homeless Indian people now have a home.
A big heartfelt thanks.   Jerome

Jerome recently traveled to Rapid City where he was a guest speaker at a conference meeting of the group Rocky Mountain Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (RMASFAA) who each year chooses a charity to support.  This year’s recipient was none other than Sew For Kids!  After the talk Jerome was presented with a check for $650, schools supplies and some clothing which included new winter coats. We’re so honored to have been chosen and will use the gift to help the children of Pine Ridge. Lakota Friends Circle, our umbrella organization, will be handling the funds and since hunger is such a huge issue we’ve decided to purchase a freezer for the new community building.   Having a freezer allows the center to become a local food bank and receive food deliveries directly from the Rapid City food bank.  Instead of handing out all the food as soon as it arrives, as they currently do, the freezer allows them the luxury of keeping perishable food until it’s really needed.  Currently the High Horses drive to Rapid City for pick up, make the trip back to Wanblee (200+ miles round trip), sort, box and deliver the food to recipients, all in the same day!  We still need to find funds to purchase a refrigerator but that is a project for another day. Again a BIG THANKS to RMASFAA for their generous donation!!

The Halloween party was held Saturday, October 29th at the Kennedy Hall with 150 kids and their parents attending.  They made fry bread and 40 pounds of chili in the new crock pots and electric roasters recently donated by members.  Game prizes included cereal, soda, stuffed animals, popcorn, chocolates and cake for the cake walk.  Fifty adults received door prizes.  Thanks to everyone who sent prizes or supplies for the party, you helped make the evening enjoyable for the kids.

For Thanksgiving, an outside group related to Youthworks is planning to visit Wanblee for the holiday and serve dinner to the community. Hopefully either Running Strong or the tribe will also provide a holiday food box with turkey for families in the community and surrounding areas as they’ve done in years past.  Food insecurity is common on the Rez so receiving a box of food could give families a few extra meals to eat.  Another Youthworks group from Pierce, Nebraska recently brought a truck load of warm winter clothing and furniture.  Youthworks volunteers are on the Rez from June through August each year and although they serve other areas on the Rez, many prefer to return to Wanblee as they always have fun projects to work on and have developed friendships with many of the local people.

The work on the community center continues and although not completed it’s still being used to sort and box NAHA and food deliveries for families in need.  Someone has donated a wood stove to heat the building until utilities are connected.  They could use the Kennedy Center but there’s a $50 fee for each event and they feel that money could be better spent elsewhere.  Once completed the building will provide a place to hold children and family programs, such as cooking and sewing classes, homework help, movie nights, parties, etc.  It will also contain laundry facilities, a small library, food bank, a room for sorting and storing deliveries, and provide lodging for volunteers working in the community.  They will need our help getting resources for their programs which we’ll include in next year’s projects.  Jerome is still looking for funding to complete the building and has two speaking engagements in Nebraska and one in Chicago.  If you would like to help with the building fund, please visit the Families Working Together website to make a donation.

Jerome and the Woodchucks are busy chopping and delivering wood  to needy families. This past summer they cleaned out many creek beds on farmers’s ranches that were filled with dead wood and are still busy gathering as much as they can before the winter snows arrive.    Gas money is needed to make deliveries of wood and food to those families that can’t make it into town so if you can make a small donation (no amount too small) to Lakota Friends Circle it would help ensure people aren’t hungry or cold this winter.  Distances are far on the Rez and many folks can’t afford a car or gas so depend on others to help them.  Thank you for any help you’re able to give!

If you would like to help provide Christmas gifts for children or elders please send to the High Horses at this address.  In addition to toys, warm hats, gloves, scarves, coats and blankets are always needed to make it through the cold winters on the Rez. Many homes are without heat for at least some of the winter so these things are vital for babies, children and the elderly, the most vulnerable to freezing temperatures.  Please refer to the previous blog for more information about the Christmas party.

Sew For Kids is now officially a program under the 501c3 of Lakota Friends Circle.  We’ve been working together on many joint projects over the last two years and it seemed like a good match.  We decided not to form our own 501c3 as there were other charity groups we could work with, which the IRS encourages, and we felt the money that would’ve been spent forming the charity could be better used helping people on the Rez.  Until a few weeks ago SFK was a program under Hearts of the Sacred Spirit and we want to thank director, Troy Dukes, for allowing us to be under his umbrella. Hearts does wonderful work as well and we’ll continue to advocate for funding for their programs.  Hearts, in addition to other projects, raises money to keep people warm in the winter by purchasing wood, propane, wood stoves, and paying down utility bills. They help those  in need only once each winter and assist people in Wanblee and other districts across the Rez.  Please visit their website here and make a donation if you can.  Thank you.

We can always use more help so we invite you to join us on our Yahoo group, Sew For Lakota Kids, and/or our Facebook group, Sew For Kids Volunteers. You will meet many talented and interesting people on the sites. We welcome other charities and church groups to work with as well.  Thank you all for your continuing support of kids and their families on the Rez.





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