Latest Rez News

It’s been a while since we posted an update on our assistance areas, Sacred Shawl Shelter and My Space Youth Center in Martin, Wanblee community and surrounding areas, Marty Indian School in Marty, SD, Bright Start program in Pine Ridge and Cheryl, an elementary teacher we’ve been helping in Porcupine, SD.

It’s still cold in Pine Ridge and they just received another 7- 8 inches of snow the other day.  Everyone there is tired of winter and people are wondering when it will ever warm up.  Sew for Kids and partner groups like Ravelry ” For the children of Pine Ridge Reservation have been sending blankets,  hats, gloves, coats, sweaters, and boots.  Shop the end of season sales now for boots, coats and warm clothing to send next winter.  It’s been a long winter for most of the country, let’s hope winter loses it’s grip soon and spring takes over.

Martin SD

My Space Youth Center is open weekdays 4-10 pm and weekends 12-10 pm.  Kids are given a snack and can use the computers, finish homework, read in the library area or play games.  Girls participating in the “coming of age” program meet on Saturday with elders helping them make ceremonial dresses and teaching them to cook traditional food, make herb bags, etc., boys meet on Sunday mornings to learn traditional skills and prepare for the ceremonies in June when warmer weather prevails.

Sacred Shawl Shelter has been very busy since Christmas providing safe shelter and helping victims of domestic abuse heal from their traumas.  They’re trying to finish two rooms over the garage so they have room for more clients.  One of the rooms is large enough for a family and the other will be for single woman ( up to 6 in that room) .  Currently any overflow ends up on the couches in the living room, not an ideal situation as that area is needed for socialization and eating meals.  They need more bags as well as new underwear, bras, sweat or sport pants, sweatshirts, t-shirts, or other tops and flip flops new or gently used. Bags can be made or purchased and should be large enough to hold the above items, about the size of half a pillowcase.  These filled bags are given to women at the clinic who’ve had to relinquish their clothing for evidence in case of rape.

Each month we send diapers for the shelter and CDC via online stores and a cash donation to Dakotamart, the local grocery in Martin, for perishable food for the shelter and youth center.  Thanks to our Sew For Kids members and others that continue to support this important program.  We’re always looking for more donors so we can reach out to more areas around the Rez so please join us if you can.  Kimmie said she gave the midwife from the  IHS Clinic in Martin several bags of baby items for her clients sent by SFK and other groups we work with.  Kimmie continues to sing your praises for your ongoing support of the baby program.   Your donations help the Bright Start nurse, the local midwives at the clinic, babies at the shelter and the CDC  where women come for assistance toward the end of the month when formula and diapers have run out. The CDC also helps with other needs of moms and children if they have the donations.  Kimmie requires mothers requesting help to attend education sessions on parenting and other topics which also gives her the opportunity to keep tabs on younger moms.  Word has gotten around the Rez this help is available and she’s received many calls from desperate mothers.  Thank you ladies for making all this possible!

Angela B, a SFK member, made a generous donation to the shelter for food to be purchased at the food bank in Rapid City to help stock the shelves at the shelter and youth center.  Angela’s donation will cover food at both locations for 2 months and at a cost of 18 cents a pound they’ll receive 3000 pounds of food!!  Thank You Angela!  It has taken a while to arrange the food donation because Kimmie came down with pneumonia after a bout of the flu.  She’s been so busy with clients, caring for her ill mother, writing grants, etc. we’re sure she just got run down.  She’s exposed to many people coming to the shelter and youth center so invariably is going to pick up something from those not immunized against this year’s nasty flu.  The Rez does a great job keeping kids and adults up to date on routine immunizations, but not all get the flu vaccine especially those without transportation or unable to travel on winter roads  and go without.

Kimmie recently returned from a trip to San Diego where she was trying to get the federal grant she received a few years ago back on track and paying the shelter as it should.  The grant monies were always arriving late putting a lot of stress on Kimmie who has employees salaries and utilities to pay, not to mention food, gas to transport clients to appointments and all the other expenses of running a shelter.  Thankfully NOVA has given some money for programs that relieves a bit of the stress when the going gets tough.  She has also received support from a non profit that works with the homeless and as a result of their assistance has helped 2 former clients from the shelter, one single woman and the other a mother with 5 children, the children were thrilled to have a new home.  These ladies will receive rent assistance and other help for up to 2 years and were able to set up their new homes in style with all your generous donations.  Hopefully this non profit will provide more assistance in the future so Kimmie can help more women when they leave the shelter, going back to their abusive homes isn’t an option.

Pine Ridge SD

Bright Start nurse, Mary M, has been communicating with us on a regular basis and we’ve all enjoyed hearing news about new births and babies receiving cuddly blankets and sweaters.  She sees high risk women and currently has 32 clients, 4 delivering in the near future and 28 with new babies, including most recently a set of twins.  She visits expectant mothers starting 3 months before delivery, weekly the first month after delivery, then twice a month until they reach the age of 3 years. SFK and our partner groups have sent many sleepers, sleep sacks, onesies, blankets, snowsuits, diapers, toiletries, books and many other things including clothing and toys for older siblings.  Nurse Mary is absolutely thrilled with all the wonderful things she’s received for her clients and the young mothers say it’s like Christmas!  We’re so thankful for each and every one of you and are in awe of your beautiful, handcrafted gifts and the love that went into making each one of them!  Mary shares some of the items with WIC clients in the area so many babies are benefiting from your generosity.  Mary can use more of what you’ve been sending, in addition we suggest activity bags, simple toys and books so moms can start working and bonding with their children.

Marty SD

Marty Indian School is having a great year.  This is the second year for our room parent program which helps get supplies and books to classrooms.  Teachers are starting to feel more comfortable with us helping as noted by their increased communication.  Books were sent to the school for “Read Across America”, an annual event held across the country in March to celebrate and encourage reading.  The school is in need of nutritious snacks for the kids as budget cuts have made them available only 3 days a week.  The Feather Store will need spring and summer clothing, shoes, outside toys, books, art supplies, and other things to keep kids occupied and learning over their vacation.  Our summer clothing project starts in April and runs through the end of May so get those patterns ready.  Parents and grandparents also shop at the Feather Store, if their child earns a feather they receive one too.  They shop for toiletries, clothing, shoes, socks, underwear and other needs for the family so those donations are always welcome.  Paulita D continues teaching students how to make ribbon skirts and she’s personally making ribbon shirts and skirts for the graduating kindergarten class.  We’re anxiously waiting to see the little ones dressed up in their regalia!

Wanblee SD

Work continues on the new community center in Wanblee but they need more funding for completion.  Several groups from Colorado, Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska are coming out to work on the building over the next few weeks.  They’ve had trouble with freezing pipes this winter as the building isn’t entirely heated so they’re working on insulating all the pipes. The new cook stove has been set up and they plan to offer healthy cooking and budgeting classes soon.  We’ll keep you posted of any needs for the kitchen area if requested.  Jerome High Horse is heading to Hammond, Indiana at the end of the month to see if the Ford Motor Company can help with funding needed to complete the building.  He’s also visiting a Hispanic church in Chicago to ask for help to update the park area in Wanblee so kids can have a safe place to play.

The community center will have a bunk area for visitors to stay when volunteering but is still under construction.  They needed 3 handicap toilets to complete the bathroom which were purchased by a SFK member, thank you so much for your help! Volunteers built 30 bunk beds this winter and a mattress company provided 30 twin mattresses for those beds and some double and queen sizes too, distributed to needy families in the area.  Sheets are always needed, gently used is fine, in twin, full and queen sizes.

There is room on the second floor for a small thrift store where people can come and shop, mostly for clothing but other items as well if donated.  They recently bought clothing racks from a Sears store going out of business in Rapid City, hopefully they can find hangers as well.  The store will only be open when a staff volunteer is present, they’ll have 2 bag sizes, a small plastic grocery bag and a larger kitchen size bag.  They will ask shoppers for a small donation or volunteering their time at the center for their purchase so the building and it’s programs are sustainable, utilities and other bills must be paid and they need funds to purchase food.  They would like to have a supply of baby bags stocked with things a newborn needs for the first 3-6 months. These wouldn’t be available in the thrift store and women would be screened before receiving one.  Bright Start does not service the Wanblee area so this service is really needed.

Jerome is chairman for the Wanblee district and he recently met with  chairmen from the other 8 districts to brainstorm about ways to help people pay their utility bills.  Each household that applied for LIHEAP assistance received $250 for heating or utilities this season which doesn’t last very long when your area experiences brutal winter weather.  The tribe is broke and the federal government is cutting funding to the LIHEAP program so they decided to ask the casino if they could help with people’s utility bills.  Jerome was able to help 23 elders through help from Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, in the past they’ve been able to help 67 homes with utilities but due to making some internal changes to the organization,  they’re not fully operational.  Jerome said they’ve been cutting wood whenever they can as there are 30 area homes who rely on it.  He’s so thankful for the Woodchuck volunteers but has had to pay for oil, chains and gas for delivery from his own pocket so he could really use help if anyone would like to donate funds to keep the saws running.  Jerome does ask recipients to contribute something towards their wood and delivery cost if they can as the program needs to be sustainable.  Sew For Kids has provided warm clothing, boots and gloves for the Woodchucks, gas for delivery to homes in need and Jerome and Theresa always feed them a warm meal at the end of the day to thank them for helping their people.  SFK and partner groups have provided many warm blankets, coats, snowsuits, hats, gloves and boots this year which has kept many families warm this winter.  Thank you all for your generous hearts!!

Wanblee is planning an Easter party, including an egg hunt, for the kids on March 24.  Some of our members have sent snacks, small toys, eggs, stuffed animals, etc. but SFK main focus is helping purchase food for the party.  Our group raised $350 for the event which will serve the 300-400 people expected so a big thank you to those that made a donation to Lakota Friends Circle!  Jerome and Theresa did their shopping in Rapid City the other day for goodies for Easter baskets and will purchase the food at the end of the week as they can’t store food for 350 people.   On the menu is grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, fresh fruit, veggies, water and coffee.  Theresa and volunteers are putting together Easter baskets with some candy and stuffed animals they received.  One hundred Easter food baskets will be picked up from Running Strong, gas provided by Lakota Friends Circle, so families can have Easter dinner.  Boxes will be given to the most needy in the community.

Recently Wanblee started a weekend backpack program with the help of Families Working Together.   Lakota Friends Circle applied for a food grant from Walmart and received $1000 which will be used for that program.  Each weekend they feed 188 kids in grades K-6 at Crazy Horse school in Wanblee.  Their funds are very limited so they don’t have the resources to feed the kids in grades 7-12.  They have relied on food donations that come from groups that live close to the Rez in Colorado and Nebraska, SFK and partner groups and the few cash donations received.   Bob and Mary Epps and Jerome and Theresa  also use their own funds to help pack the bags with food which costs about $100 a week.  They’re trying to provide healthy food – fresh fruit and veggies, cheese and peanut butter crackers, sandwiches, juice, oatmeal packages, canned soup, fruit and chicken.  It’s not perfect but kids who wouldn’t eat over the weekend are getting something to tide them over until breakfast at school on Monday.  They have run into a few problems with bags coming back with some critters inside so need to find a solution but is hard to control for all the environments the bags visit.     Maybe the school can educate families on the need to check bags before sending them back to be refilled. Thanks to everyone that sent in backpacks and food and/or money donations it helps relieve the burden for the Epps and High Horses.  The non profit group Waste No Food brought a food delivery to Wanblee this past week for distribution to needy families.  When more food becomes available Jerome will go to Colorado to pick it up and speak to the congregation of the pastor’s church that made this possible.

NAHA hasn’t been coming to Wanblee that often and while in Rapid City on business Jerome stopped in at the office to find out why.  Their donations from Walmart and other big donors are way down so they haven’t had enough to make the trip, all they had to offer Jerome was soda which he turned down.  NAHA helps families with diapers, household items, hygiene items and used clothing, occasionally new. Sew For Kids and other groups try to help with some of these needs through monthly donations to Lakota Friends Circle and in the boxes they send to Wanblee.  If you would like to help with our bulk purchases online you can do so here.  We get more bang for your buck shopping this way, cheaper prices and free shipping.  Money in this fund also provides gas money for deliveries and for bulk purchases at Sam’s Club when Jerome and Theresa are in Rapid City.  However you choose to help is greatly appreciated.

Our project this month was Books and we’re happy to report a new reading area was recently set up in the new community center by the visiting teacher whom Gina C  replaced in the 5th grade class at Crazy Horse School.  They will need many more books so please send your donations to Wanblee and include a note stating they’re for the new library or however you wish them used.  SFK member and librarian, Laurie A, will be working on the new reading area when she visits the Rez this summer, hopefully construction will be further along then.  Many of you sent books to Gina’s class, the kids have been busy reading and recently won a $30 gift certificate for their efforts.  Thanks to all those donating books, school supplies, snacks, clothing, coats, and many other things for the kids in grade 5, Gina has sent us notes on the group and even a picture of a boy in his new coat.

Jerome mentioned the trailer donated for a family who lost their home in a fire 4 years ago is waiting to be rehabbed and work will begin once they can get through the snow to skirt and repair it.  The weather this winter hasn’t allowed very much progress on projects they had hoped to finish.

The elder center is serving meals and when Jerome gets food in he makes sure to take some to the center to supplement the tribal allotment.  Some of the elders are complaining about the food but he’s doing the best he can and trying to work with the new cook.  Not much is happening at the center other than serving food but warmer weather should bring more people to the center for socializing and other activities. Jerome said they’re in need of wheelchairs in good condition and a few in the larger size so let us know if you know of any organizations that have them.  Inmates from the SD prison system build ramps for elders and local volunteers in the community install them, turnaround time is about 4-6 weeks.

Porcupine SD

SFK and partner groups have been helping a 5th grade teacher at Wolfe Creek with her class and helping repair her home.  Several people have been helping pay for repairs to a home in severe disrepair she had to move in to when her family was suddenly evicted from their project home.  She takes care of 10 people, some are her grandchildren and some are her siblings who are not well.  The repairs are nearly completed and the house is now in livable condition.  Cheryl and her family are so grateful for your help, they couldn’t have done this without you!

Cheryl has received money from some of our members for a cash prize for a journal project for grades 5-8.  Students will compete for the cash prize by writing an essay.  Cheryl’s grandson delivers wood to families in need for the organization Re-Member and noticed many kids in need of warm clothing in some of the homes and standing out in the cold waiting for the school bus.  Our groups got busy and sent her grandson plenty of hats, coats and mittens to give out to the children and we recently received a Thank You note for helping the families in his community.  Again we are in awe of your caring and generosity to people in need, bless you!

 Wow that was a long one!  Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.









Books, Books, Books!

March will soon be here and since literacy is a problem across the Rez we want to help get kids reading by sending books for all ages to our donation areas.  Read Across America  is also in March and many schools will be taking part in that annual event but that’s only one day, our goal is to encourage kids to read every day of the year! We want to support and help grow the libraries we’ve started on the Rez and add to those in the classrooms of schools we help.  Hopefully kids will catch the reading bug and want to start their own personal library at home.  Reading opens up the world to children and helps equalize differences that may exist socio-economically.

Many kids on the Rez are 2-3 years behind in reading skills due to lack of access to books.  We hope to encourage parents to start their children on the road to literacy by reading to them beginning in infancy and explain to them why it’s important for their development.  Reading to their children may even encourage parents to read more themselves.  There are only  a few public libraries on the Rez, one at college center in Kyle  which makes visiting them out of the question for many rural families without transportation or gas money.  Many Rez schools don’t have libraries which makes supporting individual classroom libraries vital so kids have access to books they can take home at night.  The more children read the better their vocabulary and comprehension skills become, making reading an enjoyable experience.  Reading books about topics they’re interested in such as sports, art, music, etc. makes it more likely kids will stick with reading and develop the skills they’ll need in adulthood.   Magazines are another way to get kids reading, especially those that appeal to their age group.

If students can’t read or comprehend what they’re reading they won’t be able to keep up with the rest of the class causing them to fall behind, become discouraged and maybe drop out of school altogether later on.  As adults, dropouts will be ill equipped to read or comprehend a prescription, fill out forms for getting a bank account or apartment, read a utility bill, or complete a job application.  Education and access to books for children and parents we help on reservations is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. Those working in libraries, schools, youth centers, and clinics need to encourage reading whenever they have the opportunity.  If parents can’t or won’t read to their children it’s important to encourage older children to read to their siblings or volunteer to read to kids at youth centers, school, etc.  Reading needs to start early so kids don’t become one of these statistics.

  • 25% more likely to not graduate from high school
  • 40% more likely to become a teen parent
  • 60% more likely not to get a post-HS credential
  • 70% more likely to commit a crime as an adult

Making themed literacy bags , busy bags, or activity bags  is another way to encourage reading and getting parents involved as younger kids will need their help.  Check out these ideas on Pinterest here.  Many parents may not know how to teach their children so these bags contain instructions and everything they’ll need to work with their child. Research tells us children perform much better in school when their parents are involved with their learning.  If kids have resources such as a writing tablet, pen or pencil, crayons/colored pencils and drawing pad they can express themselves with ideas inspired by reading books. They can jot down words they don’t know to ask an adult or look up in a dictionary,  write their own short story and illustrate it or write down their daily thoughts in a journal, all these activities further reinforce reading and writing skills.

Books and activity/literacy bags can be used in all our donation areas including our newest, Mary M. at Bright Start.  Mary can use both to give to women and their children when making her home visits.  Kimmie can use them at the shelter as an activity for moms to do with their children, at the My Space Youth Center to build the library started by SFK member Laurie A. last summer, and at the Community Development Corporation to give out to moms coming in at the end of the month looking for diapers and formula.   Marty Indian School can use books for libraries in individual classrooms and also for the Feather Store for children to buy with feathers they’ve earned.  Another way to encourage reading in  older children is to make a monthly calendar  so they have plenty of ideas to increase their reading and learning experiences.

Unfortunately at the moment there’s no way to get books into the hands of kids in Wanblee UNLESS we put a book in each child’s weekend backpack at Crazy Horse school.  Since this is a relatively new program we would have to look into that possibility.  Once the community center is completed there will be formal programs parents can attend to learn new skills and activity bags and books can be given out to encourage them to work with their children.  They plan to have a library at the center where kids can come and read and it will also be a resource for the after school tutoring program.

You can find plenty of books by shopping your local library sales, garage sales, thrift stores or your own children’s bookshelves.  Scholastic has books on sale at all times and if you are helping a classroom, ask a teacher if she has an account as she can get new books once so much has been spent. Amazon Smile has  new and used books, cheaper books can be found at First Book Market place, and  Martha G, one of our own volunteers sells books thru Usborne. Hold a book drive at your church or club or ask your kids to hold one as a scout or school program.  Books and magazines for infants through elders are needed avoiding those with religious connotations.  Please send your books to the location of your choice, addresses here.  If you’re sending only books, (media) the most economical carrier is the post office via media mail.  In our area we leave the box open for inspection and tape at the PO.  If you have other materials to send use your usual carrier. Anything with advertising such as magazines can not go media mail. For those put in a flat rate box or envelope.

For friendly conversation, patterns and more please join our Facebook group, Sew For Kids Volunteers 

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids!


Baby and Toddler Month

We’re in the first week of the shortest month of the year already, but SFK members are known not only for their generosity but also for their speed sewing and bargain shopping.  We’ll have babies and toddlers dressed in warm sleepers and wrapped up in new blankets all snug in their beds before you know it.  We gave everyone a heads up in last month’s blog and some members are already shipping their donations.

Those of you who’ve had children can probably remember the excitement and the feeling of being overwhelmed when you brought your first baby home from the hospital.  You were responsible for the care of this new life and they were totally dependent on you to feed and care for them.  Most of you probably had a supportive husband and family to help you during the first few weeks and were bringing your new baby to a home that was safe, warm and stocked with everything you would need to care for your son or daughter.

Things are very different on the Rez for new babies.  Mothers, in many cases, are young teens with no parenting skills and little or no family support, living in substandard, overcrowded housing with nothing for their baby other than what was given to them at the hospital. Health care on the Rez is nowhere near adequate, there are local clinics in some communities but they’re open only a few hours a day and getting there requires a car and gas.  Some women live in trailers or small homes in the outlying areas where they’re isolated from friends and family, caring for the new baby without any help or emotional support and with limited supplies for their baby.  Postpartum depression is an issue for many women.

Our project this month is to get clothing and supplies to the babies in Wanblee and surrounding areas, Bright Start in Pine Ridge and the Sacred Shawl Society (women’s shelter) in Martin

In the Wanblee area baby and toddler supplies will be given to women that call Theresa and Jerome High Horse for help.  Mary Epps, a nurse working with Families Working Together and living in Wanblee, will hold child care education classes once the community building is finished.  She will also be teaching women how to take better care of themselves through relaxation techniques and proper diet and exercise.  Presently new mothers and their babies are seen by the public health nurse within 2 weeks after delivery with a referral to a clinic or other resource for special needs.

Mary M., nurse with Bright Start, makes home visits to new moms and babies in certain parts of Pine Ridge Reservation although not the Wanblee area at this time.  She gets supplies from donations we send to Kimmie at the shelter but can’t always make the long trip to Martin to pick them up so we’re going to start shipping directly to her.  Mary visits moms weekly for 4 weeks after birth and twice a month thereafter until the child reaches their second birthday.   We’re hoping the 2 nurses they recently lost to retirement and relocation will soon be replaced.  There is a nurse that comes from Rapid City once a week to help, Mary has a long waiting list of moms in need of help.  She sent the following note:

 “The Bright Start program is a nationally based program to curb child abuse/neglect on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and other inner cities.  Currently I have 32 clients and 28 babies ranging from newborn to two years of age.  These are “at risk” mothers indicating they are single, have no resources, pregnant with inadequate prenatal care, domestic violence in their lives,  and live on the reservation.  Their ages range from 15 – 29 years old.  We have no incentives to give them.  We do give them a pack and play unit when they’re 36 weeks gestation to promote SAFE SLEEP.  Sometimes Kim Clausen gives me some infant sleepers and diapers.  Those go pretty fast because I share with WIC.  I receive referrals from WIC, midwives from the hospital, Department of Social Services, hospitals off the rez, and self referrals.  Our main purpose is to provide them with education on how to take care of themselves and their babies.  So, any type of assistance you have to offer will be greatly appreciated by the families.  Sleepers (newborn-2 years), diapers, and baby hygiene products are in special need.  Thank you, Mary”

Kimmie at the Sacred Shawl Society has classes for women at the shelter teaching parenting and many other skills.  They take women and children to the clinic for health checks and immunizations and to social services so they can sign up for WIC and TANF if needed.  They are provided with clothing, toiletries, etc. and a safe, homelike environment to help them heal from their trauma.

Kimmie also helps women in the Martin area and across the Rez who call at the end of the month looking for formula and/or diapers when their WIC has run out.  They may also need baby clothes, toiletries and sanitary items for themselves.  Those seeking help must also stay for some educational sessions on parenting, budgeting skills, etc. and are encouraged to go back to school or a training program they can help facilitate.  This is a great way to keep check on young mothers in the community, give them support and let them know someone cares about them.   SFK members have been so generous that Kimmie’s had enough clothing and other goods to give to Child Protection Services for children taken into their custody. These groups mentioned above and others get together to try to find solutions to these issue thru the Healthy Family Initiative Project -so needed if things are to change.

Here’s how WE can help mothers, babies and toddlers:

  • Clothing – In sizes 0-3 months (no NB) through 3T.  Fleece sleepers with feet and sleep sacks for winter, lighter of each for warmer months. Onesies and undershirts for layering, socks, pants, shorts for summer.  Sweaters ready made or hand knitted or crocheted.
  • Blankets – Quilts, fleece blankets, knitted or crocheted afghans, receiving blankets, double or single layer.
  • Outerwear – Winter coats, snow suits, buntings, hoodies, jackets, hats and mitts/mittens.
  • Linens – Pack n Play contour sheets, hooded/regular towels, washcloths.
  • Toiletries and Diapering – Qtips, baby wipes, baby wash, baby lotion, diaper cream, disposable diapers sizes 2-5, changing pads. Wipes are especially needed by moms who have no running water in the home.
  • Feeding – Formula such as Enfamil or Similac, glass baby bottles, baby food, spoons, bowls, plates, finger food for toddlers, baby bibs and burp cloths.
  • Diaper Bags – Many younger moms may prefer backpacks, either is welcome.  Bags can be totes with pockets, something big enough (at least 18 x 18) to hold change of clothes, diapers and other needs.
  • Toys – Safe toys and books for babies and toddlers.  Activity bags for toddlers, stuffed animals, etc.
  • Mother’s Needs – Sanitary items, shampoo, soap, deodorant, hair brush/comb, hair ties/clips, nail polish, manicure kit, small makeup items such as blush, lip gloss, etc., slipper socks, toiletry or tote bag, purse.  Anything to help women look and feel better about themselves.
  • Books and Craft Items –  Magazines, books, adult coloring books and colored pencils, crafting supplies such as beads, art, drawing paper and pencils or other.  Postpartum depression is high on the Rez, especially for those living in isolated areas so let’s help occupy their mind with a good book or craft.


Currently the most needed items are things to keep babies warm such as fleece sleepers, sleep sacks, and blankets, of course diapers are always needed.  SIDS is a big issue on the Rez but cases have declined with the Safe Sleep campaign. Babies should sleep in the same room as their mother in their own bed for the first 6 months when the risk of SIDS is greatest.  Sleep sacks alone aren’t warm enough for babies in colder homes so blankets (used properly) are still needed for babies.  Blankets can also be used as a play mat or to cover up in a cold car as most babies don’t have coats.

Mothers are given a Pack n Play crib for their baby which is safer than sleeping in the family bed and also provides a safe place for baby while mom takes a shower, cooks, etc.  Pack n Plays only come with one contour sheet, an extra or better yet 2 extra sheets allow for changing if soiled.  Doing laundry on the Rez is always a challenge but especially so in the winter,  having extras of everything helps keep babies clean and happy.

Safe toys for kids are always welcome as are baby books so mothers can start reading to their children from infancy.  Toys provide stimulation for baby and gives moms ways to interact and bond with their children.  Children who are read to from ages 0-5 have larger vocabularies and they develop a love for reading.  Activity bags for older toddlers are great for learning and working on projects with mom.

Check out the clearance sales for winter gear at department stores for good prices, although they’re getting ready for Spring, it will still be cold on the Rez for a few months.  Although it’s not a great time of year for garage sales, thrift stores are always a good place to shop for good clothing at reasonable prices as are your family’s closets.  Babies are larger on the Rez so NB size clothing isn’t usually needed, please send 0-3 months through 3T.

We’re so grateful for anything you can do to help babies on the Rez.  Another way to help is by donating (any amount!) to our Sew For Kids Fund so we can buy diapers and formula for our donation areas.  Shipping addresses for our donations are here.  We have a spreadsheet you can add your donations  to or send a list to Carol or Janet and we’ll post for you.   Please join us on our working group at Sew For Kids Volunteers.

Thank you all from Sew For Kids!












Dolls of Hope

Carol recently received an email from the Director of Dolls of Hope , Sarah Parsons, asking if her group’s mission of providing a toy for children in refugee camps could possibly benefit the children we help on Indian reservations in South Dakota.  A person that knew of Sew For Kids told Sarah about the work we do, we were delighted to hear someone had spread the word about us and even more delighted to learn about Sarah’s group and how it all began.

Sarah started Dolls Of Hope in 2016 after seeing all the upsetting footage of children in Syrian refugee camps and hearing of the horrible conditions from a friend who had recently returned from visiting the camps. She learned their “toys” were pieces of wood, rusty nails and other treasures left from battles and the camps they were living in didn’t have adequate food, clean water or security at least part of the time.  Some of them were living with the added trauma of losing family members and none of them have any idea when their nightmare will end.

When Sarah searched her own heart and saw how her kids lived, she knew she had to do something about it. That’s when she started Dolls of Hope whose mission is “Spreading hope and joy to children one doll/bear at a time because every child deserves to have a toy to cherish”.  Their focus is serving children in refugee camps and those “in crisis”.

Carol spoke with Sarah and told her about the children we help at Sacred Shawl Society’s women’s shelter, a place of safety for women and children escaping abusive situations.  She told her about Bright Start, a government program that helps bring resources and education to high risk moms three months before delivery and through their baby’s second birthday and about all the children living in substandard, overcrowded housing with little or no heat, without adequate food or clothing and in some cases living with abusive parents that may be addicted to drugs or alcohol.  Carol told Sarah that Christmas was a special time on the Rez for the children as this may be the only time they get a gift or a toy and SFK tries to make it special for them.

Sarah sent 300 dolls to Carol’s home in CA, 200 of those will be sent to our donation areas and 100 will be given to children Carol works with in the Los Angeles area who are homeless, living in shelters, in the foster care system or being admitted to hospitals for medical treatment.  The children at the shelter in Martin will be thrilled to have a “friend” upon arrival, Kimmie has told us that kids rarely put their new friend down and if they do will hide them so no one can take it away from them.  Moms in high risk homes on the Rez given a doll from the visiting nurse will now have something to give to their child, something they may not have had themselves and might just need to cuddle with as well, many of them are very young, barely out of childhood.  The gift of a doll might just be the opening needed to encourage the young mother to work with the nurse which benefits both mom and baby.

Dolls are given to kids in the foster care system as they wait in welcome centers until a placement is found for them on the Rez or in Los Angeles.  Many have only known a dysfunctional home and although it isn’t safe for them to live there it was still their home and their family.  They may not suffer as much stress as children in war zones but it’s still stress that significantly alters their life.  These children in addition to leaving their family may be placed in a foster home in another area where the chance of visits from family members or friends may not always be possible.  A doll or bear would go with them to their new home and be something that’s familiar and comforting.

Children undergoing medical treatment may be frightened by all the unfamiliar sights and sounds of hospitals, they may worry about what’s going to happen to them and they may find it overwhelming dealing with all the medical personnel that will cross their paths while there.  Parents must still continue to work to keep their jobs and pay the bills so can’t always be there to comfort them.  A doll or bear can be their special “friend” who’s always there to help them with anything scary.

We want to thank Sarah and all the people across the country who are helping children living on reservations, in shelters and foster homes, those undergoing medical treatment and children living in refugee camps displaced from their homes and living in the worst of conditions.  Your organization is showing love and concern for children one doll at a time by giving them a friend to love and be there with them through the scariest of times.   Bless you all!

Please take a look at their site and help them out by making a few dolls or bears yourself or enlist help from a group of family members or friends and make several.  If you can, please add a few dollars to your box to help with postage, it’s very expensive to ship to refugee camps. Many times Sarah has packed boxes ready to go but no funds for shipping so let’s help them out with a few dollars so those toys can get into the hands of children that desperately need a friend!  You can find the patterns and instructions here.

Thanks from Sew For Kids! Read our blogs at this site .  Join our working group Sew For Kids Volunteers on Facebook.

Here is how the dolls arrived at my place. I do not want to take them out of the box as need to send them on but there are many dolls/bears at the Dolls of Hope site to see . Take a look.






2018 Projects


We’re hoping the new year has brought you health and happiness and we’re looking forward to working with all of you on this year’s projects to help kids and their families at Marty Indian School in Marty, SD, Sacred Shawl Society’s shelter and My Space Youth Center in Martin, the Wanblee Community and Bright Start, a program for babies that serves the entire Pine Ridge Reservation.

Our monthly projects won’t change however, we may have additional requests from our areas as we learn of their current or special needs.  Last year we received a request from Marty Indian School for help starting a sewing program (an overwhelming success!) and we’re thrilled to say our members stepped up and supplied them with everything they needed.  We know some of you have favorite things you like to make while others are willing to try a new pattern or learn a new skill, whatever you choose to do we can find someone that needs your gift.  Projects are matched to the season as well as events such as back to school or Christmas parties but as long time members know, it’s perfectly acceptable to be knitting mittens in May or sewing shorts in January. Review the donation guidelines here and read the blog each month for more information about each project and current needs.

January  “Warmth for Winter”


  1. Warm pants – Sweatpants or others with elastic waist for boys and girls 4T – 16/18 or adult small.  The shelter in Martin has requested sweatpants, they can be worn for PJ’s and they fit more kids.  Jeans and other styles and smaller baby sizes are welcome too.   If you’re making pants choose sweatshirt fleece, polar fleece, flannel, and heavier knits.
  2. Warm Clothing – Long sleeve shirts, sweaters, hoodies, PJ’s, long underwear, winter coats, hats, mittens, scarves, socks,
  3. Boots/shoes – snow boots and sturdier shoes, all sizes.
  4. Blankets – Warm blankets/afghans/quilts sizes baby through double/queen and sleeping bags.
  5. Door/Window blankets – Many homes have leaky doors and windows or panes missing and use whatever they can to block the wind.  If you have any older blankets, heavy fabric, or plastic please send.

Women at the shelter 

  1. Warm clothing – Sweatpants or athletic type pants with elastic waist sizes S-XL especially needed.  Also jeans, warm tops, coats, gloves, and scarves.
  2. Underwear and socksnew socks and ladies new underwear sizes 6-10 and sports type bras S-XL.  Bras may be gently used, traditional styles can be sent too.  Many of these women have to relinquish their clothing at the hospital if an exam is done so this is an ongoing need for the shelter.


  1.  Dishes – plates, bowls, glasses/cups, serving dishes.  Unbreakable best for kids.
  2. Cutlery – knives, forks, spoons, and cooking utensils such as spatulas, large spoons, can opener, etc.
  3. Cookware –  pots and pans, pizza pan, cake pans, etc.
  4. Bedding – sheets, blankets/quilts/afghans, twin to queen, pillowcases, and pillows
  5.  Linens – towels, washcloths, dishcloths, dish towels

Kimmie Clausen, shelter director,  has received a grant to help some of the families leaving the shelter find new housing so the list above helps them start over.  All families leaving the shelter receive a pillow/pillowcase, toiletry bag, two sets of clothing per person and a blanket if they have them.


February  “Baby Month”

  1. Baby Clothing – sizes 0-3T.  Sleepers, sleep sacks, onesies, pants/shirts, hats, coats, buntings, PJ’s and sweaters for winter.  Short sleeve onesies, tops and shorts, PJ’s or sleep pants for summer.
  2. Blankets – crib size to toddler.  Warm blankets/afghans/quilts and receiving blankets for winter, lighter ones for summer.
  3.  Linens – towels/hooded towels and washcloths, crib or pack and play sheets, burp cloths and bibs.
  4.  Diaper bags, etc –  diaper bags or bags of comparable size, socks and booties, baby and toddler shoes, toys and books, toiletries.
  5. Diapers and formula – most needed diaper sizes are 2-5, any formula is acceptable, check for expiration dates.  SFK buys diapers in bulk monthly so please consider donating a few dollars here – more donations means more dry babies!

Kimmie needs all the above for babies at the shelter and also for women coming to the CDC looking for help toward the end of the month when supplies run out.  Jerome and Theresa can’t always make the trip to Martin for supplies so we would like to stock them as well.  We’ve recently spoken to the Bright Start nurse and she’s also in need of supplies for her home visits.  She does receive filled bags from Kimmie but if she doesn’t have a client in the area or Kimmie is out of town there’s a delay in receiving them so we want to ship some things directly to her.  Currently Bright Start has only one nurse to cover the entire Rez but they’re hoping to add more soon.  Check your closets, ask friends for their babies outgrown clothing, shop thrift stores and garage sales for baby items.  Place a donation box at your church or club or hold a baby shower.  Please send your donations for babies here.


March  “Books and Activity Bags”

March is “Read Across America” month so let’s send books for babies through teens to all three areas we serve.  Wanblee will be having an Easter party at the end of the month so books and activity bags would make ideal gifts for them.  Younger kids especially like activity bags with pictures to color, puzzles, books, stuffies, etc.  We have members already making bags and we’ll be sharing ideas for this project in March.  Thanks to all the books you’ve donated libraries are popping up in Marty school classrooms, the youth center and shelter in Martin and we hope many more locations soon.


April/May   “Summer Clothing”


  1. Clothing – shorts, capris, lightweight pants, leggings, short sleeve shirts, light jackets, dresses and skirts, PJ’s in sizes 4T to 16/18 or adult small.  Anything under 4T can be sent too.
  2. Swim Suits – for Wanblee and Martin.  Towels, sun screen, and sun hats as well.
  3. Shoes – sandals, flip-flops, canvas type or other summer shoes, new or gently used.

Women at the shelter

  1. Clothing – Shorts, capris, pants, shirts and light jackets in sizes S-XL.  Larger plus sizes needed too.
  2. Shoes – Sandals, flip flops and other summer type shoes, larger sizes 9-11 needed too.
  3. Underwear – sizes 6-10 and sports type or other bras.

June   “Bags and Bedding”

  1. Bags – Totes, backpacks/school bags, pencil cases, toiletry bags, duffels, diaper bags, messenger bags and purses.  Make bags ahead and fill later with school supplies, Christmas gifts, toiletries, etc.
  2. Blankets – quilts, afghans, receiving blankets for babies through full size.
  3. Bedding – sheets for cribs and pack and play through queen size, pillows and pillowcases.


July/August  “Back to School”

  1. School Supplies – paper, pens/pencils, markers, crayons, etc.
  2. Clothing – Pants, shirts, skirts, light jackets or hoodies, etc. in sizes 4T to 16/18 or adult small.
  3. Shoes – Athletic type, sturdier or waterproof especially need as most don’t have boots.
  4. Underwear and PJ’s –  new underwear only in sizes 4T to adult small for the older kids.  New or gently used girls athletic bras.  PJ’s or sleep pants with t-shirt.

September/October  “Warm Winter Gear”

  1. Outer Wear – winter coats, hoodies, fleece pullovers, sweaters, snow pants, ponchos. gloves/mittens, scarves, cowls, hats for sizes infant through adult.  Lots of knitting and crocheting!
  2. Clothing – warm pants and shirts, sweat/fleece pants and top and/or warm PJ’s, long underwear and heavy socks, infant through adult.
  3. Boots – snow, fashion and work boots, waterproof or heavier shoes above the ankle ideal.  Toddler through adult.

November/December  “Christmas”

  1. Infant/toddler – age appropriate toys such as stuffed animals or soft dolls, puzzles, coloring books and crayons, blocks, soft books, etc.
  2. Kids 3-7 – dolls, trucks, stuffed animals, balls, Legos, crafts, games, stickers, coloring books and crayons/markers, drawing pad, play-doh, pillow with case
  3. Kids 8-12 – sports items, craft bags, art pad and pencils, adult coloring books, hair accessories, pillow with case, board games, diary or journal,
  4. Teens – toiletry bags, make-up bags, purses, duffel bags, books, sports equipment, jewelry, flashlight, tools, baseball caps, pillow with case, PJ’s or pajama pants.

We’ll use November to get our gifts purchased or finished and ready to mail after Thanksgiving and before parties start in December.  Most of these can be purchased or worked on throughout the year.  Keep costs down by shopping seasonal sales and clearance events at your favorite store, ask your church, club and family to help and don’t forget to shop summer garage sales.

We’re often asked what’s the greatest need on the Rez, and we say “everything”!  The top two are undoubtedly food and propane and we encourage you to donate to programs that help with those needs including our SFK fund.  Our Top Ten list are goods that are always needed and often in short supply.  If you want to help and are not sure what to send anything from this list works.  Winter coats, clothing and boots are seasonal and needed October through April.  All areas have some storage if you want to send earlier but if you’re shipping to Marty Indian School wait until the new school year begins in August.


  1. Food

  2. Shoes and Boots

  3. Socks and Underwear

  4. Coats

  5. Blankets and Sheets

  6. Warm Clothing

  7. Pillows/pillowcases

  8. Towels

  9. Toiletries

  10. Diapers and Formula

Shipping information can be found here.  Charitable deduction forms can be printed from the links on that page if needed.  Complete the form, include with a SASE in your box and a note to please sign and return.  If you’re requesting a thank you note please include a SASE to offset costs that can’t afford or better yet send a note with your email address.  If sending donations online please check the “gift” box on the form and include your name and address so the recipient knows who their donor is and print a receipt for tax purposes if needed.  We suggest tracking your shipments online, most companies are free and if there’s a small charge it’s well worth the little extra to know your package arrived safe and into the hands of those who need it.  Some companies give a discount for preparing shipments online (FedEx), shipping larger and heavier boxes (check weight and size limits) is always more economical than sending several smaller boxes to the same destination.

If you would like to help provide nutritious food for kids, diapers and formula for babies and help with emergency needs please consider making a monthly or one time tax deductible donation to our Sew For Kids Fund at Lakota Friends Circle, our “mother” group and a 501c 3 non profit.   We’re currently sending formula and diapers to Kimmie, $100 monthly gift card to buy perishable food for the My Space Youth Center in Martin and incontinent needs for elders in Wanblee.  Please, help us help more people, no donations is too small!

 We invite you to join us on our Facebook group  Sew For Kids Volunteers   where you’ll meet many talented and friendly people and have lots of fun too.  This is our working group so if you want to share patterns, sewing tips, sales alerts, or just gab this is the place you want to be.  For something less active try our Facebook group Sew For Kids. We partner with other groups – Ravelry group “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation”, charity group Halfknits, Yahoo group Pine Ridge Elders and welcome other groups and churches to join with us as well.  Don’t sew, don’t worry we still need you!  Don’t let that word “sew” in our name fool you, we have plenty of knitters, crocheters and  crafters in our group so grab your needles, hooks and glue guns and join us!


Thanks so much to members of SFK and all our partner groups for your continuing support of kids and their families on the Rez!





Christmas Parties 2017

Sorry for the delay in getting party updates to you but Kimmie has been busy as usual trying to assist those in need and Jerome and Theresa have been visiting family in Texas.

The Christmas Party in Martin SD, held December 21st, was originally scheduled to take place in the Community Action Program (CAP) office but during planning they had a hunch that as news of the party spread they should probably rent a hall in the community.  The District helped fund the event as Kimmie’s group couldn’t cover the cost of such a large crowd.  Employees of the Sacred Shawl Society’s women’s shelter, board members of the Wild Horse Butte CDC and girls preparing for their coming of age ceremony helped wrap gifts, decorate the hall and trim the tree, with the district chair playing Santa for the day.  The Martin community has 850+ Native Americans, 500 showed up for the party and this was the first year!   Volunteers cooked 10 turkeys and 6 hams, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy and many desserts for the dinner.  Unfortunately they ran out of food and the staff felt badly but they had no idea that many people would show up, guess they’ll be cooking a lot more next year!  Elders gave the blessing before dinner.

Children ages 3-16 each received a pair of PJ’s, books and a toy from Santa.  Babies up to 24 months received 3 baby sleepers which Kimmie says most of them wear for the first 2 years as many mothers don’t have money to buy other clothing.  Gifts donated by SFK and partner groups were given out and Kimmie also went to her storage closet and pulled out things she’s been saving from our boxes all year so no child would leave without a gift.  The kids were thrilled with their toys, books and PJ’s!  After dinner the District Chair called Kimmie to the podium to thank her for all the work she’s done for the community including being instrumental in the building of a Native American clinic in Martin, starting the Sacred Shawl Society’s shelter so abused women and their children have a safe place to go and for providing a nurturing and safe environment for kids at the My Space Youth Center.  After the applause was over Kimmie told the audience just how she’s accomplished so much.  She told them grants cover the daily costs of running the clinic, shelter and youth center but relies on the generous help of others to provide what she needs to run the programs.  She thanked all of us and our partners in absentia for our support of Native Americans and the community which was received by a thundering round of applause from the audience!  Kimmie simply can’t thank our groups enough for helping make her life easier and happier ,not to mention the recipients of your kindness.  It’s hard to tell people you have nothing for them when they come to the office desperate for help.  Thankfully she doesn’t have to do that very much anymore, you help fill the needs that make her programs so special.  Kimmie and her staff cleaned up the hall after the party and then went home for a long winter’s nap!

The Wanblee Christmas Party was held on December 16th.  Jerome, Theresa and their local crew along with 46 volunteers from Minnesota, Colorado, Nebraska and Wisconsin all worked together to make Christmas special for the community.  After a short presentation the Parade of Lights began and afterwards the crowd enjoyed hot chocolate and cookies, fruit/candy bags were given out to the children.  Since the new building still isn’t warm enough (another wood stove going in this week) they set up 2 trailers, one with gifts for kids 0-12 and the other for teens.  Unfortunately the Santa Claus they’ve had for the last 3 years was in the hospital fighting cancer so a replacement had to be found.  We send “Santa” our best wishes and hope he wins his battle and makes a full recovery!  They had enough gifts for teens but ran out for the 0-12 age group.  Over 200 kids attended the party and they got many calls from people in the community asking if there were any gifts left for their children.  Everything we sent in was given out to the community.  They didn’t have as many toys as usual, partly because the NAHA trucks haven’t been coming, donations are down because people are giving to disaster areas instead of their group.  In past years they’ve provided food and some gifts around Christmastime.  We don’t like to hear of children not receiving a Christmas gift so we’ll try to send more toys next year.  We’ve tried to get a numbers list with ages, gender, etc. but so far no luck, hopefully next year no child will leave without a gift.  All the volunteers shared a meal together that evening and had to leave the next day to get home for their family celebrations.  Some of the volunteers will return soon to help frame in the walls of the main meeting room at the center.

A separate Christmas party was held in Wanblee at Crazy Horse School for the elders.  Ravelry group “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” provided the gifts, 82 of the 85 area elders attended the party.  The group filled shoeboxes with all kinds of goodies which the elders were so thrilled to receive. The school provided their dinner and gave each elder $25, which was a wonderful gesture.

A minister from Denver, Dennis Carlin, and some of his congregation brought a U-Haul full of food they had gotten from the non-profit Nation to Nation.  The church raised money to buy the truck and 4 freezers so they could bring frozen food and meat to the Rez, hopefully every 3-4 weeks weather permitting.  Their motto is “We Don’t Waste”.  The Christmas load had 100 turkeys – 13 boxes of brussel sprouts, squash, and cauliflower – 15 boxes of apples, sweet potatoes, and fancy crackers and cheese and 30 boxes of frozen bagels.  Jerome and his local crew also made a trip to Manderson to pick up 100 boxes of food from Running Strong.  That number will increase to 250 boxes next time because only 3 of the 9 districts are following the required guidelines to be eligible for the food.  Gas money was provided by LFC for the food pick up.  Most people were responsible for coming to town and picking up their food as there wasn’t staff available for deliveries.  Some of the food was kept in the freezers so they would have something on hand when calls come in.  They will also need to keep extra food in the freezers when they set up the soup kitchen when the community center is finished.  Although the new building was too cold for the party they did use it for food distribution.  Jerome said with both of these food sources they won’t have to go to the food bank in Rapid City as often which saves time and resources.  They can occasionally get a cash donation from Families Working Together to purchase food when they need it.  They are still hoping to be a food distribution site for Second Harvest Food Bank when the building is finished which will serve the local communities.

Before the party the High Horse’s and the Epp’s presented a mother and her 6 children with a trailer they had purchased in Rapid City for $3500.  The family has been living apart since a fire destroyed their home 4 years ago and haven’t received any help from the tribe.  The kids have been staying with relatives and friends but will soon be living as a family unit again with their mother as soon as the trailer is livable.  Needless to say they’re so thankful for their new home and  happy they’ll all be together again.   Workers still need to apply skirting, install a propane hookup, get the water working and attach the sewage system before they can move in.  We’re sure they’ll have many needs and our groups can help with those, we’ll be posting a list soon.

The next blog will be our monthly project list for 2018.  For January we’re still trying to get warm clothing, coats and blankets to Martin and Wanblee.  The cupboards are bare at both locations and they need to be restocked, they’re still getting requests for anything warm.  They’re struggling to buy propane for families, Hearts of The Sacred Spirit just helped 5 families and Jerome gave them a list of six more  desperately needing propane.  This year LIHEAP is only providing $200 for the entire winter to each household on a first come first serve basis.  As cold as it’s been this winter it’s doubtful that will last very long.  We also want to give a special thanks to Penny Nickols for her $200 donation, a gift from her family that she donated to SFK to be used for propane.  Thanks Penny for giving the gift of warmth, this is something we might consider for our birthdays or holidays.

We want to thank all of you for your wonderful talents and generous hearts.  It takes a village to help a community and we certainly have a wonderful one at that.  Enjoy the pictures of the Wanblee party, unfortunately we don’t have any of Martin, Kimmie totally spaced out taking pictures as the day was so hectic and her mind was preoccupied with the health of her mother, who had fallen and broke her hip a couple of days before the party.

Seems like we already have plenty to keep us busy for the next month or two.    Thank you all from Sew For Kids ! Come join us on our facebook page Sew For Kids Volunteers!

Here are some of the items made by our talented volunteers,. Many more items were sent for the party but I do not have photos.






2017 In Review

Happy New Year to all!  We apologize for being late with the blog but everyone’s been so busy with their families (including us) over the holidays and besides, we all needed to take a well deserved break.  For first time visitors to our blog, we’re a group of dedicated volunteers  trying to make a difference in the lives of Lakota children and their families in South Dakota.  We help support the Sacred Shawl Society’s domestic abuse shelter and My Space Youth Center both located in Martin,  the community of Wanblee and surrounding areas, all located on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and Marty Indian School in Marty, SD which is on the Yankton Sioux Reservation.  We’re in direct contact with our Lakota friends and they constantly tell us what a help our group has been to them individually and to their programs.  We couldn’t possibly accomplish all that we have without the dedication and hard work of our members at SFK and the fantastic groups we partner with.

  •  “For the Children of Pine Ridge Reservation” , a Ravelry group with many generous and talented members that knit, crochet, sew and donate goods and funds to purchase diapers, formula, food and many other ongoing needs.
  • “Halfknits” is a volunteer knit and crochet group from the Dallas/Fort Worth area that has donated countless blankets, shawls and other warm items to Pine Ridge.  They are our “go to” source for blankets and can always be counted on to fill urgent needs when winter arrives.
  •   “Pine Ridge Elders”, is a small but very generous and talented Yahoo group that is one of the first in line to help with emergencies including opening their wallets to help a family buy food, shoes or other urgent needs.  They also wield a mean crochet hook and are accomplished at other crafts as well.

These groups have many volunteers that sew, knit, and crochet but there are many, including in our SFK group, that may not have crafting skills or extra time so they choose to help by purchasing goods (many volunteers do both!) that can’t be made such as linens, school supplies, shoes, coats, toiletries, etc. either on their own or by donating to our Sew For Kids Fund so we can purchase in bulk online or buy locally on the Rez.  We are so grateful for all our monthly donors but would love to have more join with us.  A monthly donation of $5 or $10 doesn’t seem like a lot but when multiplied by the number of members in our group it means we can purchase more local food, more sanitary needs for teens and women, more incontinence needs for elders, more diapers and formula for babies, provide more gas money to deliver wood in the outlying areas and send more kids to the pool next summer.  Sew For Kids is a program under the umbrella of Lakota Friends Circle so all donations are tax deductible.  We work together with them on many projects and Carol has recently become a board member.  Please help if you can.

Although we get a lot of help from other groups we still can’t begin to provide all the needs for the areas we help.  Kimmie Clausen,  Director of Sacred Shawl Shelter and My Space Youth Center in Martin, applies for grants which barely pays the bills to keep the doors open and employees paid.  That means there’s no money in the budget for clothing, toiletries, shoes, etc. for clients at the shelter or money to purchase food for after school snacks and weekend meals at the Youth Center.  SFK and partner groups help provide whatever their meager budgets can’t.  Marty Indian School has a budget to run the school but due to constant budget cuts and rising prices their money may not last the entire year.  The Wanblee area has volunteer groups from Colorado, Nebraska and Minnesota that come to do home repairs, build bunk beds, work on the new community center sponsored by Families Working Together, or repairing other buildings in the area as they did last year for the Elder Center.  Volunteers from these groups also help with the annual  Christmas party and Parade of Lights and always bring lots of gifts and donations with them.   Youthworks volunteers make their appearance every summer to help paint homes, mow lawns, cut brush, build outhouses and help with many other projects in the community.  There are many local volunteers that work alongside these groups to help better their communities, something we encourage and support.   When each of us brings our talents and treasure to the table and work as a team we can make things happen!  To all of you we say THANK YOU!

 Accomplishments in 2017 

  1. Provided school clothing, shoes and summer clothing. Our ladies continue to sew beautiful dresses for the girls, which they absolutely love and can’t wait to get each spring.
  2. Provided bedding including blankets, pillows and pillowcases and sheets.  Pillows along with colorful pillowcases are always popular and kids continue to ask for them. Blankets were made by many volunteers from several groups, always one of our top requests.  A veterans group made new bunk beds for kids in Wanblee that had been sleeping on a cold floor covered only in a jacket.  We’re so happy we could provide bedding for their new beds.
  3. Provided school supplies so kids could be ready to learn – paper, pens and pencils, pencil cases, backpacks, crayons, glue, etc.
  4. Laurie A, SFK member, started a library at the My Space Youth Center in Martin.  Many books were donated to be used in the new library, the women’s shelter, the Bright Start program that operates across the Rez, and local school libraries.  They were also used at Marty Indian School to build up classroom libraries, as gifts for literary night, and the Feather Store where kids can shop with feathers they earn for good behavior, participation and exhibiting Lakota values.  The Ravelry group has been making blankets and sending books for the younger children to the Sacred Shawl Society, thank you ladies, the kids love them!
  5. Made bags for Bright Start nurses to fill with baby items volunteers sent in which are then given to new mothers on the Rez during home visits.
  6. Made bags for women and children leaving the shelter to hold the clothing, toiletries and personal items they received during their stay.  They’re so much nicer to hold their belongings than a plastic bag and much better for their self esteem too.  For those lucky enough to find a new home to go to, household items are given out to help them start their new life.
  7. Made bags for rape victims the shelter fills with clothing, underwear, shoes, etc. donated by our groups.  Women have to leave their clothing at the clinic for evidence.
  8. Established the Sew For Kids fund which was used this year to purchase diapers and formula for the shelter and other babies in the community; food for the youth center so they could give after school snacks and small meals to kids that may not have supper at home.  Without our help many of these kids wouldn’t have another meal until breakfast at school the next day.  Weekend food bags are needed in many areas for kids at risk. .
  9. Provided snacks for kids at Marty Indian School.  Programs were eliminated that had provided snacks and food for the weekends  when children are likely to miss a few meals
  10. Provided incontinence aids for elders, sanitary items for teens and women  diapers and baby formula for the Wanblee area. We’ll purchase more diapers etc for Wanblee if there are more donations to the fund.
  11. Provided sewing machines for the shelter and youth center in Martin and lots of fabric and sewing supplies.  Girls preparing for their coming of age ceremony make special dresses under the direction of elders.  Women in the shelter may sew to alleviate stress and it gives them a sense of accomplishment.
  12. Four sewing machines were donated to Marty Indian School along with lots of fabric, ironing boards, irons, sewing lamps, ribbon, rotary cutting supplies, and lots of notions to start a sewing program at the school.  Paulita Drapeau has taught classes of both boys and girls to make traditional ribbon skirts and it’s been an outstanding success!  They couldn’t wait to get to class and start sewing, some of the boys made skirts for their mothers and sisters.
  13. Some members of SFK and partner groups joined together to help a teacher on Pine Ridge after she was evicted from her home unexpectedly through no fault of her own.  Her new home needed many repairs to be livable including a new toilet, shower and plumbing so they could have water.  The family needed blankets, clothing, coats, housewares, and many other things they had to leave behind as they weren’t allowed back in to get their belongings.  Usually this group of ladies helps this teacher with supplies for her grade 5 class but this year they helped make her home livable and clothe her family of 10.  We can’t imagine the strain she was under and how hopeless she must’ve felt at the time.  Thank you ladies for your compassion and generosity!!
  14. Partnering groups provided items for the elder center in Wanblee including roasters, crock pots, utensils, kitchen linens, plates, blankets, cleaning supplies and a new cook stove!  SFK member, Laurie A, stopped by the elder center on her whirlwind visit to the Rez last summer and dropped off chairs and tables they desperately needed.  Thanks again Laurie!
  15. Made bags for girls at Marty Indian school and filled them with sanitary items and provided extra supplies to the school to refill when needed.  Girls stay home from school when they don’t have access to the proper supplies, learn more here.
  16. Collected money from partner groups to help with expenses for the funeral breakfast and lunch for Jerome and Theresa High Horse’s family and friends.  Tragically this past summer they lost 5 young members of their family in a terrible car accident 2 miles from Wanblee.
  17. Provided food and goodie bags for the Easter and Christmas parties in Wanblee so kids could have some healthy options.
  18. Sent Christmas gifts for the Feather Christmas store at Marty Indian school where kids shopped for just the right gift for their family members.
  19. One of our biggest projects for Christmas is the Doll Project started 3 years ago by SFK member Penny N.  She continues to manage the program and we all have a blast looking at each other’s pictures and oohing and aahing over all the cuteness!  This year volunteers sent a total of 138 dolls, bears and softies.  There were dolls of every kind including American Girl type 18 inch, cabbage patch, Barbie, baby dolls, and there were bears  dressed in their finest attire and stuffies of every kind.  Great job ladies!
  20. Classroom room parents from SFK sent school supplies, books, snacks, toiletries, and lots of Christmas gifts for the kids in their classes at Marty Indian school.  They will continue to support their respective classes through the end of the school year.   A very special thanks to all the room parents this year, Lori K, Elaine E, Carol B, Lanetta S, Janet S, Diane G, Dianna S, and John and Penny A.
  21. Sent clothing, toiletries, toys and many other things to stock the Feather Store at Marty school.  Kids shop at the store using feathers they’ve earned for good behavior and displaying Dakota values where they can buy clothing, shoes, school supplies, toiletries, toys, etc.  Parents can also come to shop for their family if kids earn the feathers.  SFK member, Lanetta S, made a quilted US map for the school and marked all the areas our volunteers live.  The quilt hangs outside the Feather store at the school.
  22. Provided CD players and blankets for the sleep room project.  New principal, George E. noticed quite a few children showing up for school obviously needing more sleep so they set up a room where kids could sleep for an hour or two and wake up refreshed and ready to learn.  Some kids live in homes with crowded living conditions which are usually noisy, some may sleep on the floor without proper bedding or in a poorly heated room, none of which makes for ideal sleeping conditions.
  23. Made pajamas for kids, one of our members, Margaret H, made a record 87 pairs herself!  Thanks to Margaret and to everyone sending pj’s.  One of our members sent nightgowns and the girls who received them wouldn’t take them off for 3 days!  Pajamas are a new phenomena for some of the kids, they’re used to sleeping in their street clothes.
  24. Provided much needed clothing and other items for elders and children in the foster care system to Wild Horse Butte Community Center serving the Martin area.  They are open to the other parts of the Rez if they have enough donations.
  25. Purchased 12 more swimming passes for kids who wanted to use the pool last summer after Kimmie Clausen told us her funds for the project had run out.  Several members sent in lots of swim suits and Laurie A delivered lots of towels that were donated by a hotel her daughter works for.
  26. Made cloth diapers for the women’s shelter and others in the community to use when disposables run out toward the end of the month.  Winter isn’t the best time to use them as drying is an issue but in the hot, windy SD summers they dry in no time.
  27. Some of our members gave money to Lakota Friends Circle to buy gas for the High Horses to pick up and deliver food, school supplies, shoes, coats, clothing, etc. to families in need.  Jerome High Horse and the Woodchucks cut and deliver wood to families in Wanblee and the outlying areas.  Group members sent warm coats and clothing, work boots and Beulah made her famous “chopper mitts”  for the men so they could be properly dressed for the SD winter when wood and food are needed most.
  28. Provided gifts for the Christmas parties in Wanblee and Martin, we’ll have a blog and full report on those activities soon.


Pictures from Marty Indian School showing map made by Lanetta S, inside the Feather Store and sewing supplies and machine for sewing class.

Pictures from the new library Laurie A set up for the youth center in Martin and one from their first garden.


Pictures from the Wanblee area


Honoring elders on Mother’s Day

Beginning the new Community Center

Working on new Community Center

Rehab work on trailer

Rehab work on area trailer


IMG_1726.JPG (1)

Food distribution at the Kennedy Center


Jerome's new tractor

Jerome’s new tractor


Well it looks like 2017 was a good year and we’re hoping with your help 2018 is even better.  We tried our best to respond when asked for help and we’re confident many lives were touched because of your kindness and generosity.  We know many people help that are not part of our group and just happen to read our blog, to you we say Thank You for taking time out of your life to pack a box with donations for kids that so desperately need them.  A coat, a blanket or a pair of shoes may not seem like a lot but imagine what it means to the child that receives your gift.

We invite you to join us on our Facebook working group, Sew For Kids Volunteers.  If you want to help but don’t have a lot of time or have a tight budget, please consider donating a small amount monthly or occasionally to our Sew For Kids Fund where your dollars will help buy food for children, diapers and formula for babies, elders needs and much more.  Please share our blog and spread the word about the living conditions and needs of Native Americans living on reservations across the US.

We wish you and your families health and happiness in 2018.  You ARE the best!!