The Wanblee Christmas Party

Sorry we’re so late reporting on the Christmas party held December 10, pictures were received a couple of days after, but it’s been extremely difficult to catch up with Jerome for all the details.  He had many deliveries to make around the community from items  received from the monthly NAHA truck and Running Strong’s donation of coats, blankets and turkey/food boxes, plus he had 4 family members in the hospital at the same time so made several trips to Rapid City to check on them.  While there Jerome attended a meeting for Veteran’s rights, and although there’s always hope, he isn’t expecting anything to change for Native American veterans in the area.   In addition to everything else going on Jerome tried to spend at least 4 hours a day working on the community center and cut firewood if there was any time left in the day.  All the wood they had stockpiled since last summer had all been given out before the first of December.

Each year the tribe receives money from LIHEAP to help families with heating bills.  Funds this year only covered half the households on the Rez, the ones they did help received $150 towards propane, firewood or utility bills.  It’s still uncertain if there will be more funds available in 2017.   Jerome has been working with Troy Dukes, Director of Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, to get some propane deliveries to needy people in Wanblee and the surrounding communities.  Please visit their website, read about their heating project and consider making a small donation if you can.   If they have the funding each household is eligible for $150 in assistance each year.  All the warm coats, clothing and blankets you sent can mean the world to someone living in an unheated or poorly heated home.  Jerome also had calls from people that were out of food and money, one family had 8 children.  Luckily  Lakota Friends Circle had received some donations and along with money from Jerome’s pocket, they were able to get food to this family and others.

In November Jerome and Theresa and their friends, Mary and Bob Epps from Families Working Together, went to the University and made a presentation about the work they do in the Wanblee community and spoke of some of their needs.  They were grateful indeed when the University purchased a $1500 trailer for them that Jerome will use to make deliveries and they also donated a used dryer, furniture, and blankets and pillows for needy families.   More good news, Jerome has been asked by the tribe to help get a USDA grant project started on the Rez.  They would initially receive $150,000 to build greenhouses in some of the districts and start growing food crops to help feed local communities and also sell any surplus to outside markets.   A volunteer from Nebraska has offered to help with the agriculture program should they receive the grant.

Jerome had visitors/volunteers from Nebraska, Wisconsin and Minnesota that arrived just before the party.  Folks from Nebraska brought 200 hats, scarves and mittens for teens which was a nice surprise as they’re often the group that gets forgotten during the holidays.  Also visiting were the elves from Minnesota who came laden with gifts and ready to help Santa distribute all the toys.  Families Working Together arrived from De Forest, Wisconsin and brought 400 gifts their community had donated.   Sew For Kids teamed up with the Ravelry group “For The Children of Pine Ridge Reservation”  and donated an additional 600-800 gifts.

Although December 10 was a cold day with nighttime temps dipping to 4 degrees, about 400 kids and their families still came and lined up along the street to watch the Parade of Lights and eagerly wait for Santa’s float to come by.  They weren’t disappointed as there was a gift for everyone and home deliveries were made to those not able to attend due to health, lack of transportation or other reasons.   Hot chocolate, cider and cookies were served to those braving the elements.  Lakota Friends Circle provided funding for the candy and fruit bags for the kids,  made possible from money donated mostly by members of Sew For Kids and Pine Ridge Elders.  Unfortunately the community center wasn’t finished in time to have the party indoors, things move slowly on the Rez and they still need funding to complete the project.  Enjoy the pictures of the parade and gift giving below.
Everyone was so generous this year that Santa and his elves were able to share the wealth with 4 other communities in the area giving all those children a gift they certainly weren’t expecting.  We will be discussing helping other areas in addition to Wanblee for Christmas in 2017 since they have so much help from other groups.  The Wanblee fire department held a community bon fire December 17 where they served hot apple cider, hot dogs and s’mores.  FWT provided the food and brought a few gifts left from the party to give out.
Jerome and Theresa High Horse want to wish you all Happy Holidays and all the best in the New Year.  They extend their sincere thanks and gratitude for all the things you’ve done through the year to help their community.  They have many thank you notes to write so please be patient.  For those that didn’t include a SASE or an email address LFC has donated stamps to help.  If you included an email in your box Jerome will try to let you know your package arrived but it’s always best to track your packages online as Jerome and Theresa do the work of 20 people and do make mistakes.  Charitable donation forms can be found here, please send to Wanblee or other donation area along with a SASE.
Enjoy the pictures below of just some of the wonderful items SFK and the Ravelry group made for the Christmas party,  you certainly went above and beyond!  We are continually amazed and so thankful for the generosity you show the kids and their families!  Join us in 2017 for a year of friendship and fun!
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