Marty School, Wanblee and Martin News

 Marty Indian School – Students enjoyed their two week Christmas break and are back in class hitting the books.  They were especially thrilled with all the wonderful gifts from their room parents and several parents received thank you letters and hand made cards from their classes.  Students are certainly sleeping a lot warmer now thanks to the blankets and pillows they received for Christmas.  The kids are eagerly awaiting Valentine’s Day next Tuesday when they will have a class party and exchange valentines.  Room parents are sending snacks and activities for them to enjoy at the party.  A special thanks to Donna Snider for sending enough valentines for the entire elementary school!  You can read more about elementary school activities in their newsletter here.

Elementary Principal, Gina Curran, was asked what was needed for the Feather Store and the first thing she said was “pillows and pillowcases, the kids love them”!   They continue to be one of the most popular things we make and wherever they’re sent we always get requests for more.  Other needs are toiletries, feminine hygiene items such as maxi pads for the older girls, food items that can be sent home in backpacks, pencils, erasers, colored pencils, backpacks and pencil cases.   If you would rather make a monetary donation for any of these items Paulita, Feather Store Manager, has offered to go shopping and purchase any of these items locally using the school car.  Donations can be sent via PayPal to Lakota Friends Circle  or send a check by mail to Marty Indian School  c/o Gina Curran .  They will both send you a charitable donation form.  Please let them know how you want the money used. Another urgent need is shoes in youth sizes 1, 2, and 3 for both genders.  At the end of the school year the shoe company, Tom’s, gives a new pair of shoes to each student which sees them through the summer, but there are several students in need of shoes now.  If you can help with shoes or any of their needs ,it would be greatly appreciated.

In addition to managing the Feather Store, Paulita is also an artisan in traditional Native American crafts such as beading and quill work.  She has offered to teach these skills to the older elementary students if she can get help with supplies.  She would need items such as beads (size 11), beading thread (size D)  and beading needles (size 11 sharps) that can be found online at   Also needed is deer leather either German tanned or brain tanned, this leather is the easiest to bead.  An online source for this leather can be found at   It’s important to teach the younger generations the traditional arts and crafts of their culture so please help if you can.  Paulita also hopes to teach quilting skills in the future.

Here is a note from Gina re the project.“I talked to Paulita and she stated that one hide would be enough for all of the children. She would like to teach the children to make medicine pouches and tobacco/cedar pouches. Any size 11 seed/Czechoslovakian cut beads will work… they need to be made with a good tanned leather hide or the children will not be able to get their needles through the leather without breaking their needles. The children will make them to wear or to share with their families. Thank you!   Gina”

  The school no longer needs library books for the library as they are being supplied by a reading organization in Rapid City. Students meet with special reading teachers to improve their skills and advance to the next higher reading level once they read and comprehend their current book.  Students are looking forward to Read Across America next month when each student will get a copy of a Dr. Seuss book. Teachers make it fun for the kids by decorating their classrooms, having plenty of activities to do and of course reading books. Children’s books can still be sent to the school to help build individual class libraries or for kids to take and build a home library.

The school is still accepting aluminum pull tabs from soda cans and also Box Tops for Education labels from participating products.   Each of these items is worth 10 cents so if we all join together, it could mean a sizeable donation for the school.  When sending a box to the school just include whatever tops or tabs you have saved in an envelope or baggie.

Wanblee – The High Horse’s are still sending out thank you notes, they received so many wonderful gifts for the party it’s taken a lot longer than usual to get them finished.  Jerome and Theresa have  been on the road giving speeches to organizations in hopes of getting donations they need to finish the community building.  They were recently in Chicago receiving an honorary membership in the University Key Society at the University of Illinois-Chicago.  They will be returning to that city soon for a couple of speaking engagements.  Work on the community center has pretty much stalled due to the cold and snowy weather.

Jerome and the Woodchucks have been out cutting and delivering wood to families in need.  Most homes also have propane but they try to conserve as much as possible so gas is available to run other appliances.  This year’s LIHEAP program only provided funding to help about half of all households on the Rez and they won’t be receiving that help until the latter part of the heating season.  Thankfully warm blankets, coats, hats and mittens have been have been sent to Wanblee thanks to the generosity of SFK, the Ravelry group “For The Children of Pine Ridge”, Halfknits, Pine Ridge Elders and Families Working Together.  Hearts of the Sacred Spirit has been helping get propane to the homes that need assistance as funds become available.  Winter on the Rez has been tough this year and it doesn’t seem to be coming to an end any time soon.

The chainsaws were in desperate need of new chains and bars with an estimated cost of $240 and once again Darlene Dean and her generous family stepped forward to help Jerome and the Woodchucks tune up their saws so they could continue cutting wood and keep families warm.  The Dean family not only helps maintain the chainsaws but assists with so many other needs in the Wanblee community.  Thank you Darlene and family!  Jerome and his crew cut wood all year long so the saws hardly ever take a break and do need require a lot of maintenance.  We’re hoping some members of our group will help the Dean Family keep those saws running by making a small donation to Lakota Friends Circle.  Thank you!

We recently received a note from Jerome saying, “We have two new woodchucks, need insulated bibs or coveralls size XXL & XXXL, work boots or insulated boots size men’s 12-W, & 13-W.   Thanks if you can help, Jerome”.  These men volunteer their time cutting and delivering wood and are out in all kinds of horrible weather.  A couple of SFK members have already helped; Sue Van Skiver sent a lot of warm insulated underwear and Elaine Evans recently spoke to the manager of her local Tractor Supply (TSC) store and found he was willing to donate a pair of 3XL insulated bibs.  Thank you Sue and Elaine!  We’re hoping to get some boots for the men through Soles 4 Souls.  If anyone has any warm outerwear in larger sizes or boots in good used condition they would be greatly appreciated, the mailing address is here.       .

Members of SFK and Ravelry group “For The Children of Pine Ridge” recently helped a homeless mother with 7 children by providing shoes, clothing, coats, blankets, toiletries and many other needed items.  Fortunately by the time our donations started arriving a home was found for the family and Jerome delivered all the gifts we sent shortly after they moved in.  We didn’t send anything for the mother as she didn’t give her size when Jerome made the list which isn’t unusual, most mothers are concerned with their children’s needs and are just thankful to get something for them.  We’re hoping to get a size for her in the near future and look forward to helping her too.  Thanks to everyone that helped this family, you were all so generous!  Jerome has learned of another mother with 8 children who really needs our help, we’ll post more details when we get them.  SFK  loves to help families that have been identified by our area contacts as really in need and struggling.  These families are at risk and with all of us joining together we can help make their lives a little easier and maybe relieve some of the stresses they have to face every day.

We don’t have a date for the Easter party yet but Jerome has asked for 100 pillows and pillow cases, the kids just love them!  Most of the pillow cases have already been made and many pillows already delivered, we’ll have an exact count soon.  We have the BEST volunteers!!  Other needs are baskets, plastic eggs for the egg hunt, candy, and stuffed animals.  Donations to purchase food, (hot dogs, chips, fruit, water) can be made to Lakota Friends Circle here.  Thank you for helping make the Easter party special for the kids!

Martin – Recent requests for the shelter are warm pants such as sweats, fleece, etc., socks, shoes and underwear for women and children.  Some of our group has been busy sewing underwear, you can see some of their beautiful work in the pictures below.  Other needs are towels, sheets, blankets, plastic dishes, utensils, plastic cups, etc. for clients leaving the shelter and moving to a new apartment or home.  They’ve recently received donations of towels, pillows and pillowcases, sheets, blankets and some household items.  Some of you have also sent pants, underwear, socks and shoes.  Deidra and Angela  sent cleaning supplies for the shelter and the youth center and Barb and Laurie sent baby formula.  Local hospitals no longer give out formula to new mothers because they want to encourage breastfeeding. Those that can’t breastfeed have to buy formula using food stamps or obtain it from the WIC program which doesn’t last the entire month.  Laurie A. from SFK and a Ravelry member have been sending diapers every month to the shelter which really helps women there and in the local community.  Some of our group are making cloth diapers and plastic pants so women have something to use when diapers, and the funds to buy them, runs out toward the end of the month.  Having resources available to help people when they come calling is such a blessing and a huge weight off Kimmie’s shoulders.  She said to thank everyone for their generosity and will get thank you notes off to you as soon as possible.

Kimmie has been very busy writing grants over the past 2 weeks so she can hire a director for the youth center and  some money to provide for transitional housing which is sorely needed for families leaving the shelter and for the homeless women who are occasionally housed at the shelter for their own safety.  Kimmie thinks she’ll receive the grant for a youth Director, the kids need supervision and direction to keep them on track with homework, computer skills, reading, etc. and with all her other duties she’s can’t be there all the time.  They do get volunteers to help out for a while but after a month or so they quit coming so a full time director is needed.  The center was recently closed for a few days  for a thorough cleaning and to update the propane tank.  Hours for the center are 4-10 p.m. weekdays and noon to 10 p.m. on weekends, kids are always there and for some it’s their home away from home.   SFK member, Laurie Allen, is a librarian and has been stashing away books and activities for the youth center and plans to personally deliver her goodies some time this summer.  Laurie helped set up a library at the Allen Youth Center as well.  Thank you Laurie!!

Finishing work on the two shelter rooms over the garage was delayed for a while due to the cold weather but they took advantage of a couple of mild days and got the flooring in and the new heating system set up.  Kimmie is still deciding how to set up the new rooms, most likely there will be 2 bunk bed sets in one room and a queen bed, crib and set of bunk beds in the other.  Once a final decision is made we may be asked to decorate at least one of the rooms.  Kimmie likes to make the shelter look and feel homey, not institutional like some of the ones she has visited.  She is concerned now with a new president in Washington they may lose funding as this administration doesn’t seem very welcoming or concerned about Native Americans.  If that should happen the shelter will have to close as the large grant she received for running the shelter came from the Federal government.  It is a frightening thought and Kimmie hopes it doesn’t come to pass as the shelter is so badly needed on the reservation.

Kimmie recently met with the Bright Start group to discuss needs for babies and mothers. Bright Start consists of 3 nurse midwives who make home visits to women across the Reservation starting in the sixth month of their pregnancy and concluding when their child reaches age 2.  During their visits they give well baby check ups, administer vaccinations, and identify any special needs babies early and get them extra care if needed.  These nurses are especially needed in the homes of young, first time mothers for support and education.    They can always use clothing, blankets, diaper bags/totes and anything else a baby needs and toddler clothing, toys, etc. to give to other siblings.  If you would like to donate baby or toddler items for Bright Start please send to Kimmie here. Since you’ve all been so generous to the shelter in the past, Kimmie has been able to share a lot of your donations with them.

We would like to extend a warm welcome to all the new members that have joined us in the past few weeks.  We’re so glad to have you, join in the lively conversations on our Sew For Kids Volunteers Facebook page or if you like something more subdued try our Yahoo group page.  Many thanks to those of you sending donations to the new fund we set up at Lakota Friends Circle.  For newbies or those that want a refresher about the fund please read this blog.  You can find our project list for the year here.  Find a project that interests you and/or matches your skill level, if the current project isn’t something you like, feel free to work ahead on something you do.  March is right around the corner and we’ll soon be working on clothing projects for the kids’ summer vacation.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.


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