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June Project -Bags and Bedding

We’re way behind on blogging about the June project due to all the blogs we’ve done on Marty Indian School, Sacred Shawl Shelter and My Space Youth Center both in Martin and finally the Wanblee area just last week.  Although the month is more than half gone bags and bedding are needed year round on the Rez and can be sent any time.

Shop thrift stores, garage sales, white sales at stores, or your own closet for flat and fitted sheets in sizes twin to queen.  Although king size sheets are not needed you can still buy them and make pillow cases or smaller sheets for a pack and play or twin size bed.  SFK members have made many pillow cases for kids in the past using bright colors and character prints and they are one of the most requested items we’ve made (the other is dresses).  A favorite pattern for pillow cases is the burrito style which can be made in less than half an hour.  Pillows (new only) are always needed and can be found online, Kohl’s and Penney’s have good sales many times with free shipping.  Smaller kid size pillows and cases can be made for toddlers.  Sheets are too expensive for most families to buy so many people sleep on a bare mattress with a blanket thrown over them.

When most of us get ready to take a bath or shower we grab a towel and washcloth from the closet and don’t give it a second thought.  When people on the Rez do the same many times there are no towels or washcloths and they dry off with whatever’s available.  Everyday items we take for granted are considered luxury items on the Rez.  Used towels in gently used condition are fine to send but SFK members have found very good towels on sale for less than $5 from online retailers.  If you have any hotel size toiletries they would be appreciated too.  Baby and toddler size towels with hoods are needed and a great way to keep little ones warm after a bath.

June is the time we like to remind everyone to start thinking ahead to next winter (sorry!), it’s not really that far off especially for the quilt and afghan makers.  Time to get your yarn out and quilt projects started or look out for blankets at garage sales and thrift stores.  Blankets that are worn around the edges can be rebound or serged or even used as batting or the backing in a new quilt.  Blankets make great holiday gifts for everyone on the Rez and we never seem to have enough to go around so if you need a project to do this summer this is it!

And finally all our donation areas need bags.  Totes, drawstring, backpacks, toiletry, duffels, diaper bags, pencil cases, toy bags, messenger bags, and purses.  Make them or buy them the choice is yours.  Bags made (or purchased) ahead can be filled later with school supplies, Christmas gifts, toiletries, baby items, etc.  These are great projects for sewers to reduce their ever increasing “stash”.

So on a lazy summer day pull out that sewing machine, knitting needles or crochet hook, find a pleasant spot to work, like a garden bench or the front porch, fix yourself a refreshing drink and craft the day away!  Please share pictures of your finished projects with us, we’d love to see them!  Please send your bedding and bags to Lakota Friends Circle in Wanblee or to Kimmie at Wild Horse Butte in Martin for the shelter and youth center, addresses are here.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.

 

 

 

 

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Wanblee Community Updates

Wanblee continues to be a hive of activity as workers from the community and other volunteers are hard at work getting the community building finished.  They were able to use the building this past winter to sort food from the food bank in Rapid City and donations from NAHA, Running Strong and other non profits and even held a couple community parties.  Food and supplies are either picked up by people needing help or delivered in the case of those without transportation or living in the outlying areas.

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Summer means volunteer workers and groups from across the US make their way to volunteer on the Rez.  One of the returning groups is Youthworks,  their young adults come every year to help paint homes, do yard work including mowing and cutting brush so rattlesnakes don’t have a place to hide and many other jobs the community needs help with.  Each group works for a week with a new crew coming in every Monday.  There’s usually some down time that provides them the opportunity to tour the Rez and take in some of the cultural sites.

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This year volunteers will be using the “dorms” ($20 per night) in the new community center which can hold up to 30 volunteers, the bunk beds were built earlier in the year.  They have access to 3 bathrooms, a shower and a kitchen where meals are made and served.  The kitchen stove was donated by some generous members of Sew For Kids and will also be used to teach cooking classes to the community.  The dorms were set up to keep volunteers on site and save them travel time and expenses but also is a source of income that will be used to pay utilities, building maintenance and supplies for community programs.  To comply with safety regulations they still need 4 smoke detectors, 4 carbon monoxide detectors and 4 fire extinguishers.  If you would like to help please send your donations here.

The community center now has a thrift store, most donated clothing and household goods are sorted and put in the store and patrons are charged a nominal fee. Those in extreme need including the recent victims of home fires and the mother with 13 children can access the store at no charge.  Some good news for the fire victims, they will each be getting a trailer to live in soon and will need our help to set up their new homes, we’ll let you know when we get more information.  Wanblee is especially in need of the same baby supplies as the other areas we serve, Bright Start doesn’t currently service the Wanblee area so women and their babies are seen by a public health nurse at the local clinic which doesn’t have a lot to offer in the way of clothing, etc.  When our SFK fund grows large enough we will buy diapers and formula for the Wanblee area as we  do now for Martin.

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The library in the center is finished but is still in need of more books and magazines for kids of all ages and adults.  The library was named “The Dream Center” by a visiting professor who came to work with teachers at Crazy Horse School. Her college students have put the library together and it is still a progress in work.  While there she was asked to teach the 5th grade for the fall semester, which she did, since they were experiencing a teacher shortage.  She was replaced by Gina C, former principal at Marty Indian School who is originally from the Wanblee area.  Parents from the community are bringing their children to the library and even parents employed at the local college are coming as there isn’t a family library there.  The Head Starts have requested books as well. Elders have a small library/activity area in the elderly meal center and they would also love to have more books and magazines.  Reading is  important to keep aging minds sharp.

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The sewing center is still in the planning stages, they have tables and chairs and the sewing machines we purchased a few years ago.  The machines are currently on loan to women in the community who are sewing at home but they will be returned when the program begins.  A volunteer from Nebraska is planning to come and teach quilting classes but the goal is to have locals do the teaching in the near future.  They gave us a wish list which includes more sewing machines with bobbins, hand and sewing machine needles, fabric scissors, straight pins, pin cushions, tape measures, rotary cutters and blades, cutting mats, sewing thread in white, cream, gray and black, cotton quilt batting, quilting weight cottons and other fabrics for garments, etc.  Anything you can help them with would be greatly appreciated.

They plan to have cooking classes so people can learn how to cook healthier foods and get the most out of their the limited commodities or food stamps.  The community garden will be a welcome source of fresh produce as most of the Rez is in a food desert.  We’ll post a list of kitchen needs when we receive it.  Jerome and Bob Epps from Families Working Together want to teach wood working skills to older kids which will begin once the building is completed.  They have lots of wood pallets left from NAHA deliveries that can supply some of the wood and in the past they’ve made bed frames and picnic tables from them.  Maybe we can put a bug in their ear to make some book shelves for kids to start their own home library!

The High Horse’s and the Epp’s recently purchased 200 chickens and have been busy building a chicken coop.  Some of them will be given to families that have housing for them and the funds to feed them.  Raising chickens is a great way to teach kids about animal care and they will also provide meat and eggs for the community.  The meat and eggs will be sold and the money used to buy feed so the program can be sustainable.  We’re hoping this new venture is a success and moves the community toward more self sufficiency.

 

The High Horses have been traveling around the US to raise awareness of their work and to raise funds to finish the community center.  They’ve made many new friends and received a lot of donated goods that will help families in need.  They also made several trips to Colorado to pick up food from We Don’t Waste and from another donor that had a lot of chickens to donate.  Jerome couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get meat for the community as most people, especially kids, don’t get enough protein in their diet.  The meat supply at the food bank in Rapid City has been extremely low since most of what they had was distributed to the hurricane victims last year and they’ve not yet recovered.  All this traveling and picking up of donations is hard on Jerome’s vehicles and he’s had to make over $1100 in repairs which he accepts as part of helping his people.  The Colorado non-profit is giving the community a truck which will give Jerome’s vehicles a rest.  Although retired Theresa High Horse returned to the work force part time to help with some of the expenses and fortunately they have some money from their retirement to help.  Jerome and Theresa have worked on and off the Rez for many years but decided to move back about 10 years ago to help their community.  They’ve had to deal with lots of family illnesses and the loss of young family members in the tragic car accident last year.  Through it all they remain steadfast in their commitment to help their community, we applaud them.

Unfortunately the community garden won’t be planted this year.  The soil is heavy clay and needs to be amended with organic matter which is hard to do without the proper equipment.  Jerome was given a small tractor last year to use for clearing brush which could do the job, but he needs a tiller attachment which will cost about $1800 unless someone has one they would like to donate.  He was doing the work in the garden by hand but has worn out his knees (replaced) and shoulders over the years so now has to rely on machines to do his work.  The tiller could help encourage more people to grow their own food if they had some way to prepare the ground.  Since Jerome does so much for the community using his own funds we felt he shouldn’t have to do this on his own so we’ve set up a “Tiller Fund” at Lakota Friends Circle.  If you would like to add to the tiller fund you can make a donation here with a note how your donation is to be used.   Amazon shoppers can help by using Amazon Smile and ask your charitable amount be given to Lakota Friends Circle.  Other ways to help is collect your spare change and ask friends and family to do the same,  give up your latte for the week, etc.  We would like to give a big thanks to Brian N for his generous donation to Sew For Kids.  Brian likes the work we’re doing, which means all the work our members are doing, so most of his donation will be added to the tiller fund and the rest will be used to bring water into a needy family’s home in Porcupine.   Thanks also to two Facebook groups for their generous donations to Lakota Friends Circle that have helped meet several critical needs on the Rez. We have $600 towards our $1800 tiller goal ! Please help us reach our goal so families can learn to garden and eat healthier foods than are provided thru commodities or limited food stamps. Thank you .

 

The Woodchucks will once again be clearing wood from the streams on local ranches and providing fuel for the 30 local homes that depend on wood stoves for heat. These men donate their time and their “pay” is a good meal at the end of the day.  We do try to help provide them with warm clothing and footwear if needed and Jerome pays for maintaining the saws but that is another area where he would love to have some help in buying oil and new blades as they wear out.

The elder center is open and elders are receiving meals.  The building will need a new roof soon and the fence needs repairing.   We’re going to put another “bug” in Jerome’s ear and see if his woodworking students can build a few picnic tables for the elders and we could buy umbrellas so the elders can enjoy the outdoors.  We would like to see the center have a garden with raised beds so elders with arthritis or other limitations could participate.  Pairing elders with kids in the community to help work the garden would be a wonderful opportunity for elders to teach Lakota history and culture to the younger generation.  SFK member Laurie A found a generous person willing to donate wheelchairs and repair parts for the elders and they’ll soon be on their way to the Rez, thankyou Laurie!  The elders are always in need of incontinence supplies in large and extra large sizes for both men and women.  Please send your donations to Jerome and he will deliver to the elder center.

 

The park in Wanblee is in need of repairs and Jerome has been asked by the National Parks Service to submit a grant.  Many of the tourists visiting Badlands National Park and cultural sites across the Rez also stop at the Wanblee park so there’s a good chance they may get the grant and hopefully labor help to do the work.

Over Memorial Day weekend Wanblee held a cleanup event, kids picked up trash and trucks went house to house and picked up garbage bags and hauled everything to the dump.  Lakota Friends Circle (our “Mother” group), bought food to feed all the workers using funds from the Walmart food grant they received.  Trash bags and gas money were also provided using funds from other donation sources to LFC.

 

Many thanks to those that have sent summer clothing, household goods, monetary and many other donations to Wanblee, your kindness does make a difference to those in need.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.

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Nurses of Pine Ridge

Pine Ridge

Over the last few months SFK and partner groups have been helping Bright Start nurse Mary M on Pine Ridge Reservation.  Bright Start is a family resource and support program that offers home visitation to high risk families during pregnancy, after delivery and up to the child’s 3rd birthday.  Their focus is on first time mothers but other women may be included if many risk factors are present and there are openings in the program.  Some risk factors may be single, under the age of 21, homeless, in an abusive relationship, family problems, etc.  Mary has 32 clients located in different areas of the Rez and keeps a list of women to call when a child “graduates” from the program, a sad day she says.  Another nurse comes from Rapid City once a week to see clients but they still need to replace two nurses they lost a few months ago.  Mary celebrates kid’s birthdays and accomplishments by bringing them small gifts, usually a need she saw on her previous visit.  She also takes baby items to the WIC office for distribution to women using their services.  They’ve been thrilled with all the things Mary’s brought and told her it seemed like Christmas!

Mary has been delighted with all your generous donations – books, toys, stuffed animals, clothing, toiletries, sanitary items and tote bags.  She’s really thankful for those sending baby wipes as some of her clients don’t have running water which makes it more difficult to keep babies clean.  Most of the clients Mary sees can’t afford to buy these things.  Lack of resources is one of the reasons for child abuse, tensions rise as they feel guilty for not providing for their baby who may have come along unexpected.  Having the needed resources also means moms can start focusing on the task at hand which is providing proper care for their baby and themselves making sure they’re keeping up with healthcare and taking advantage of WIC for healthy food and other resources to help them have a healthy, happy baby.  The South Dakota Office of Child and Family Services provides a Pack n Play (with two covers) to those families unable to provide a safe sleeping environment for their infant with a Bright Start nurse providing safe sleep education during home visits.  South Dakota has a high incidence of SIDS and unsafe sleeping environments is one of the leading causes and preventable with the proper education.  Mary says most of her clients are trying to breastfeed, the ideal nutritional source for a baby and economical for low income women.  WIC provides nutritional food for breastfeeding women until their baby is 6 months old and formula (lasts about 3 weeks) for babies that aren’t being breastfed.

Mary helps build a strong network of support for her clients, many are teens living in isolated areas which puts them at a higher risk of developing postpartum depression.  Home visits are vital during the first month after delivery so she can identify depression or any developmental problems with the new baby so treatment can begin early for the best outcome.  Since we began helping Mary a few months ago a set of twins, two baby girls and one boy have been born with more coming soon.  A few toddlers have graduated from the program and may be able to attend the Head Start program in their area if room is available.  New mothers going to school or working are given preference for daycare services and placement in Head Start for their children so they can finish their education and/or work to help support their families.

You can continue to help Mary and her babies by sending donations to her here.  She can use anything listed in the Martin list of needs below.

Martin

Amanda H is the midwife working at Lacreek District Clinic in Martin.  The clinic was built 3 years ago for the 850+ Native Americans living in Martin and the surrounding areas.  Kimmie Clausen, CDC Director, was instrumental in getting the clinic built working with IHS to acquire funding.  Patients previously traveled 100 miles round trip to receive medical care which was a hardship for those lacking transportation or funds to buy gas and especially for elders and those very ill.  One of the services provided by the clinic is obstetrics and gynecology.  Amanda sees her OB patients there and is one of 5 midwives delivering babies at Pine Ridge Hospital in the town of Pine Ridge on the reservation.  Most of the routine deliveries are performed by these midwives with a doctor available if complications arise, high risk deliveries are flown to Rapid City so there is a better outcome for both mom and baby.

Pine Ridge hospital gives women a baby wash bin with toiletries, package of diapers and sanitary pads and disposable nursing pads.  They receive these during their stay and use them so there’s not a lot left when they go home.  The hospital receives donations of layettes, blankets, baby hats, buntings, etc. and give them out to clients so they have something to start out with.  Pine Ridge is a baby friendly hospital promoting breastfeeding so no formula or drug company perks are allowed.  Women also receive a car seat, good up to 20 lbs., and babies must be in the seat in the car before they’re released.  Seat belt laws are in effect on the Rez and parents can be fined if their children aren’t in a car seat or wearing a seat belt for older kids.  A pac n play is given to those needing a safe sleeping place for their infant.

Many breastfeeding women are wearing their regular bras which are too restricting or none at all.  They’ve tried to give reusable sanitary pads to women but many are too embarrassed to use them in homes with many residents.  Amanda said she does have a supply of cloth pads to give out and some of the teen girls will use them at school if they don’t have money to buy disposables.  A lot of homes don’t have washers or dryers so laundry is done infrequently and usually washed in the bath tub and hung out to dry. Toiletry kits would be a great gift for women so they can take a little time out of their day to pamper themselves and relieve some of the stresses of being a new mother.

Women’s Needs

  • Flannel nursing pads
  • Nursing bras or tank tops all sizes
  • Sanitary pads
  • Toiletry kits – A nice bag with shampoo, deodorant, lotion, etc.

Amanda likes to see her clients at the clinic 2 weeks and 6 weeks after delivery but that doesn’t always happen, having incentives to give out greatly improves turnout.  The appointments gives her the opportunity to do a well being check on both mom and baby, screen for postpartum depression, make sure they’re healing and there are no breastfeeding issues.  She also tries to get women on birth control as some get pregnant again right away due to lack of education and protection.  Teen mothers especially need education about birth control, proper infant care including clinic checkups and immunizations, parenting skills and good healthcare for themselves.     Young women having another baby already overwhelmed with the tasks of raising a child may lead to feeling resentment toward her child as she has no time for herself adding to the risk of neglect or abuse.  Many women coming to the shelter have children so close in age that they’re just worn out from trying to handle them which adds more tension to households already at the breaking point, sadly some of them end up returning to the shelter again.

Baby Needs and Incentives

  • Clothing – Onesies, sleepers and sleep sacks.  Short sleeve, lt. weight for summer, long sleeve fleece or flannel for winter, scratch mitts.  Knitters and crocheters can make baby sacks.  Hats, mittens, coats, sweaters,  buntings for winter.
  • Books and Toys – Suitable for infants and young babies. toddlers
  • Blankets – Receiving, quilts, and afghans
  • Towels – Including towels with hoods and baby washcloths
  • Toiletries – Baby wash, lotion, etc.
  • Diapering Needs –  Wipes, diapers, changing pads, diaper bags and back packs.
  • Baby Carriers – Moby and other type for infants and older babies.
  • Bibs and Burp Cloths – Good project for sewers to use up scraps.

The clinic doesn’t give out bottles or formula as they too are a baby friendly facility and promote breastfeeding.  For those that aren’t breastfeeding supplies can be picked up at the WIC office.  All baby donations for the Martin area should be sent to Kimmie at the CDC office for distribution to Amanda, the shelter and for clients coming to Kimmie’s office needing help.  Donations in gently used condition are gladly accepted.  SFK helps provide formula and diapers for Martin area babies through Lakota Friends Circle monthly fund.  Please help with our goal of happy babies that are well fed and dry so they don’t become targets for abuse from inexperienced young mothers who lack coping skills.  Women requesting assistance from the CDC office are required to stay for educational programs about budgeting, parenting skills, etc.

Amanda also takes rape crisis bags to Pine Ridge hospital for women that have given up their clothing for evidence.  The bags (about 15 x 20) are filled with donations SFK and other groups have sent to Kimmie at the CDC office.  They are in need socks, toiletries, new underwear, sports bras, elastic waist pants such as sweats or athletic type,  tops, flip flops and tennis shoes in all sizes.  Women are so grateful to get these bags and we want to thank you all for providing comfort to women after enduring such a horrible act of violence.

All of you have been doing a great job of helping women and babies on the Rez, our work never ends but it’s so gratifying to make a quilt, knit a hat or shop for baby clothes knowing this small act of kindness can improve the lives of someone on the Rez.  Being a nurse on the Rez means traveling long distances in sometimes hazardous conditions to see families who have a multitude of problems with few resources.  Thank you all for making their job a little easier.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 School Year Ends For Marty Indian School

The 2018 school year came to an end last week for students at Marty Indian School.  Summer school begins soon and kids can go to the area Boys and Girls Club for activities.  Graduation ceremonies were held and many girls in grades 3-5 wore traditional ribbon skirts they made in Paulita D’s sewing class.  Teachers in grades K-2 asked Paulita if she could make ribbon skirts for girls and ribbon shirts for the boys in their classes.  Paulita did make the shirts for the boys but ran out of time so help arrived from SFK member Sharon L.  She used her late mother’s sewing machine to make the skirts and dedicated this special project to her.  Thank you Sharon for all your hard work!

The sewing program began last year when Paulita asked if we could help her get supplies to teach a sewing class for kids in grades 3-5.  Well that was music to our sewing ears and members of SFK and For the Children of PRR got busy getting everything together.  Janet S. delivered the sewing machines last August and shortly after boxes started arriving at the school filled with fabric, ribbons, notions, and lots of other sewing related goodies.  The kids fell in love with the class, girls made skirts for themselves and boys made skirts for some very proud mothers.  They loved the class so much they were asking if they could come and sew during lunch and recess!  Needless to say Paulita plans to teach the class again this fall so she’ll need our help to re-stock the shelves with ribbon, fabric and notions.  SFK member Cynthia H. recently sent a huge box of fabric so we’ll see if more is needed.  Thank you Cynthia!!

The end of this school year also ends the second year of our room parent program.  We, along with teachers and principal, George Erdahl, feel the program has been successful getting much needed supplies into the classroom and improving student’s performance and should continue next year.  We began the year with two parents per class, but a few volunteers couldn’t continue so we ended with basically one per class.  Teachers are feeling more comfortable talking with room parents and asking for help with projects they want to do.  Recently a teacher interviewing for a position asked about the budget for classroom supplies and Mr. Erdahl was able to tell her when the budget ran out room parents and SFK members were there to help.  Many SFK members are teachers so they know firsthand how important it is to have a well stocked classroom and not have to take from their own resources every time something is needed.

Another program at the school we support is the Feather Store.  Students earn feathers for class participation, kindness and other positive behaviors and their parents earn a matching one.  The feathers are used as currency to shop in the store for toys, snacks, clothing, shoes, toiletries, etc.  Of course kids love to buy toys and snacks but parents can use their feathers to buy toiletries, clothing for their family, household goods, cleaning supplies, etc.  This program not only gets some much needed resources to families but it gets parents coming to the school so they feel more comfortable with staff and hopefully changes their attitude about participating in their children’s education.  This program has had many positive rewards including improved test scores, better behavior and helping kids work on the 4 Lakota values.

SFK is so fortunate to have member Penny N, who lives a few hours north, as our representative at Marty.  She visits the school twice a year bringing lots of supplies for her class and the Feather Store and always comes back with lots of pictures, videos and stories of her visits that make us all feel we were there too.  She spends time talking with the principal, teachers and staff so we get a better idea of how we can help.  Penny is trying to set up a pen pal program with the 5th grade class she sponsors at Marty and a 5th grade class in her hometown.   During her last visit a couple of weeks ago she made a video of her interview with a few teachers and students and principal George Erdahl.  She asked the panel what they liked about the program and for any constructive criticism.  Kids favorite things were toys and clothes and teachers were delighted to have help purchasing things for the classroom.  There weren’t any complaints just plenty of praise for the program and Mr. Erdahl thought having the room parents and Feather Store could be helpful in recruiting teachers to come to the school.  Marty is in an isolated area so having a few perks to entice teachers is a good thing.  Mr. Erdahl noticed kids coming to school in the morning too tired to concentrate so he decided to set up a sleeping room so they could rest for an hour or so and go back to class refreshed and ready to learn.  Many kids are living in small, overcrowded homes and may be sleeping on a hard floor without proper bedding and/or adequate heating.

Penny met with Paulita D, director of the Feather Store, during her visit and came back with a list of needs for the next school year.  The list could change as Paulita cleans and organizes the room for next year.

  • Boys underwear (all sizes)
  • Sanitary items for girls
  • Athletic Shoes – in larger kid sizes and small adult sizes
  • More mittens, hats and scarves for next winter
  • Toys – especially board/card games.  (no battery toys)
  • For Girls – fabric purses, jewelry and hair ornaments
  • Playground – footballs, soccer balls, baseball bats/balls, jump ropes, etc.
  • Healthy Snacks – For the days kids don’t get extra food from the cafeteria.
  • Household Items –  Towels, washcloths, laundry detergent, dish soap, facial tissue, paper towels, etc. for parents, grandparents  and Aunties to purchase with feathers.  There isn’t much to buy other than bath tissue so they could really use our help! 
  • Laundry Detergent – For the school Pods, any brand   

The school does have a washer and dryer and often washes kids clothing giving them another outfit from the Feather Store.  Some families have no running water, others may have water but no appliances.  Families need money, detergent and transportation to use a laundromat which are sometimes hard to come by.  Last year donors purchased MP3 players ($4 at Walmart) and fidget items for kids that need calming so those will probably be on the list of needs. Sometimes children come down with lice and need to be treated over a 2 week period, the school handles most of the treatment for those that need it.  Schools offer so much to kids especially those who have limited resources.

We want to give a special thanks to Paulita for all her hard work coordinating the Feather store, shopping for us, processing all the boxes we send and getting our donations to the right class.  Paulita is an alumni of Marty, how lucky they are to have this former student return and work for them!  Working with Paulita on the sewing program has been an absolute joy for us!  Thank you for taking all the wonderful pictures of your students sewing at the machines, ironing, choosing fabrics and of course those smiling faces modeling their finished skirts including the picture of the proud mother modeling the skirt her son had made for her.  We can’t thank you enough for making us feel we were part of the class and can’t wait to work with you next year!

Thanks to all the teachers who worked with us this year, hopefully we can build on those relationships next year as we work together to make school a positive learning experience for the students.  Thank you Mr. Erdahl for supporting our work and for your caring support of the students and for going the extra mile for those that need a little extra TLC.  Mr. Erdahl began his first year at Marty as elementary principal but soon took over as principal of the middle and high school as well.  Students in grades 7-12 are in the residential program and live in dorms on school grounds.  Students come from many areas of South Dakota including Pine Ridge and North Dakota.  They also use the Feather Store and although we don’t “officially” sponsor the older students any extra clothing or shoes in larger sizes (including plus sizes) would be greatly appreciated.

And finally to members of SFK, and For the Children of PRR and to anyone that has donated their time, talents and treasure for the benefit of the students at Marty Indian School, we humbly say Thank You for your kindness and support.  YOU are the reason this program was a success in 2018 and hopefully it will remain so for years to come.

“In life, there are no sure bets, except that people like you will rise to the occasion and make the world a better place.”  Author Unknown

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Space Youth Center / Sacred Shawl Society Domestic Abuse Shelter

The Youth Center garden (twice the size of last year) is tilled and some of the cool weather crops are already in the ground.  There’s a new section this year devoted to growing sacred Lakota plants.  Director Kimmie Clausen wants children to learn about these plants and their significance in traditional Lakota culture.  Kids have started some of the warm weather crops such as tomatoes in pots to have them ready to plant when temperatures get into the 70’s.  Kids arriving at the shelter are getting in on the fun too planting seeds and learning about vegetables and how they grow.  A Three Sisters Garden– beans, squash and corn – will be planted too continuing a Native American tradition going back hundreds of years.  Kids will be assigned work time in the garden to plant, weed, water and of course harvest and eat all the vegetables they’ve grown.  They’re trying to encourage people to eat healthier foods, including fresh produce, but they aren’t always available or affordable so most of the fruits and veggies consumed come from a can.  Kimmie would like to teach some canning and preserving classes this summer so families can have a food supply to rely on.  The garden was a big success last year and did save the shelter and youth center money on their grocery bill especially during the summer when kids were out of school.  They rely on the monthly support of our generous donors to purchase perishables for the youth center and shelter at the local grocery in Martin.  If you would like to help Kimmie purchase bread, milk, eggs and other perishables you can donate to our SFK fund here.

The Youth Center has a job opening for Director which Kimmie is hoping to rapidly fill as the kids will soon be out of school and need to be supervised.  Currently kids can use the center from 4-10 pm with younger children leaving earlier so older kids can have their activities.  Kimmie doesn’t have the resources to pay a director to work all day or to feed the kids all day either.  If she can get the summer food program this year the hours will be extended.  Kids usually have summer school activities earlier in the day and will receive breakfast and lunch for the month of June.  Kids not attending summer school can also get the two meals if they can get to school at serving time.  It’s easier on the summer family food budget if they can eat at school as parents are trying to feed kids that usually eat one meal a day at home, not including weekends, three meals a day on the same amount of food stamps.  Kimmie is applying again for the Community Action Program grant to purchase swim passes ($25 each) for use of the community pool.  Last year SFK donors bought 12 passes when funding ran out as more kids wanted to use the pool with their friends.  Swimming is great fun for the kids and they get plenty of exercise too.  We can help this program by sending swim suits, sizes 6-adult M/L and beach or regular towels new or gently used condition.  If more funding is needed to purchase swim passes we’ll let you know and hopefully some of us can help.

Kimmie would like to take the kids on a few cultural trips around the Rez this summer if they can be arranged.   Also this summer kids at the youth center and shelter will be learning how to make traditional Native American crafts such as drums, tobacco bags, medicine bags, beaded items, dreamcatchers, etc.  Kids using the center have a certain amount of time using the computers or watching TV and then must read, color or play games.  They may have movie nights again, if they do we’ll probably get requests for popcorn supplies.

Twenty-five girls will soon be participating in their Isnati or “coming of age” ceremony which takes place over 4 days.  They’ve been preparing for this important event by attending classes on Saturday mornings at the youth center learning about themselves and their culture from female elders.  Kimmie received a grant from NOVA for this program and purchased two sewing machines to make the traditional dresses each girl needs for the ceremony.  During the 4 day Isnati girls will learn how to make wojapi , gather traditional herbs and medicines and learn about their bodies and how to respect and take care of them, a nurse midwife will also make a presentation.  Mothers can attend with their daughters if they wish and hopefully they will.  After the ceremony each girl receives a make up bag and elders teach them how to modestly apply it.  Word has gotten out across the Rez and each year more and more girls are calling wanting to be part of the ceremony.  They need to have completed required parts of the course before they’re allowed to attend the ceremony so girls calling too late for this one can participate in the next one.  This special and important ceremony, once banned, is just making a come back on the Rez due to Kimmie’s efforts.  A special thanks to members of SFK and “For the Children of PRR” for making and filling the bags.  Boys meet on Sunday mornings to learn about their bodies and their role as men in Lakota culture.  They too will have a camping trip later in the summer.

Recent Shelter News is they’ve nearly completed the upstairs rooms which means no one will have to use the hide-a-beds in the living room and that area can be used for activities.  Kimmie says some of the women she sees have so many kids at such a young age and so close together that they have no time for themselves or for improving their situations.  She helped one young mom with 3 kids for a couple of days and was totally exhausted by the second day.  Kimmie is researching funding to build a communal living house for woman and their children to live for a 2 year period where they would learn life skills to transition to more permanent housing.  Each family would have private rooms but share a group living area.  Kimmie sees clients continually return to the shelter if they go back to their previous living conditions with some of them pregnant again after being forced into sex by their abusive partners.  Women need to get into health care so they have access to contraception.  The shelter is missing one of their staff because she’s currently undergoing cancer treatment for four months.  They’re keeping her job open as she’s a valued member of the staff.  A special thanks to some generous members of SFK and For The Children of PRR for donating funds to help this lady buy food for her family and pay the rent during this trying time. She was overwhelmed and in tears when she heard of our desire to help her.

Kimmie also wants to thank those that sent kid’s toys, books and stuffies.  They do brighten the lives and puts a smile on the faces of kids who are sad when they arrive at the shelter.  Girls love the dress up princess costumes and boys like the Spider-Man and other superhero costumes.  We’re thinking some of our seamstresses might like to make some capes for the kids that say “Super Kids” or other cute title.

Kimmie has been helping foster kids at the Safe House with clothing when she has extra.  Children are there because the system couldn’t find homes to place kids in and although not an ideal situation, it gives kids a place to stay until other housing can be found.  The goal is always to keep kids on the Rez, if at all possible, so they maintain contact with their Native American culture. The foster care issue is being discussed/debated at the tribal level with the state of SD, the tribe wants the state to deal with the problem so it’s a been a hard fought battle to keep these kids on the Rez.   The point is when you send a donation to Kimmie you may be helping kids in desperate situations all across PRR.  Thank you all for your generosity!

Shelter Needs

  • Underwear – Women, boys and girls in all sizes.
  • Toiletries – Shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, sanitary supplies.
  • Linens – Towels, sheets in twin, full and queen sizes, new pillows
  • Shoes – Flip flops, sandals, tennis shoes
  • Clothing – Summer clothing for women, boys and girls sizes infant through 14/16.  They do have storage for winter clothing if you need to send now.
  • Blankets – Quilts and afghans
  • Pots and pans – always needed for women leaving the shelter for their new home.
  • Baby Needs – Baby bottles, sippy cups, formula and diapers in the larger sizes are always needed for moms who run out of them at the end of the month .
  • Cloth Bags – Minimum size about half the length of a pillowcase.  They’re used for rape crisis bags, families leaving the shelter and people needing help at the end of the month at the CDC office.

Our SFK fund helps buy diapers for the CDC but at the current time is too small to add formula.  If you would like to help grow our monthly fund and help send formula , please make a recurring monthly or one time donation here with a note your donation is to be used for the SFK diaper fund. No amount is too small!

And finally on April 26 the senate passed a resolution designating May 5 as National Day of Awareness for “Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.  The Martin area held a walk to bring attention to this problem and honor all the missing and murdered Native women.  The walk was a huge success and also addressed women’s needs and issues.

SFK and For the Children of PRR continue their sewing spree making dresses, skirts, and shorts for the kids to wear this summer, hopefully we’ll get some pictures of kids in their new duds.  Don’t sew, don’t worry send ready made clothing new or gently used.  Join us for friendly discussion, picture and pattern sharing on our Facebook group. See our donation guidelines for gently used clothing.

Please ship all donations for My Space Youth Center and Sacred Shawl Shelter here.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids for all you do!

Some of the creations of our group for the summer clothing project. Great job everyone! Not everyone shares their photos , many send but I am sharing what has been posted to our Sew For Kids Volunteers Facebook page.

Getting Ready for Summer

Spring is here, at least on the calendar, so it’s time to get summer clothing ready for the kids.  Pine Ridge is enduring yet another snow storm this weekend but that’s not going to deter us from our mission of getting kids outfitted with proper clothing for their upcoming vacation.  Many SFK members have already been busy sewing and posting pictures of their finished projects on our Facebook site.  Kids  look forward to summer when school is over and they can finally get out of the house after being cooped up over the long winter. Vacation starts around the 3rd week of May in many areas of the Rez, those attending summer school will be out at the end of June.

The needs list hasn’t changed much from last year so we’re referring you to that blog for a detailed list.  We’ve added the Bright Start program this year as one of our new donation areas.  Nurses with this program make home visits to children from 0-24 months.  Please read our Baby Month blog for a list of baby and toddler needs.  Wanblee and Martin both have a public swimming pool so bathing suits and towels are needed in both areas.  Last year a grant was awarded to the My Space Youth Center in Martin for the purchase of  summer swim passes for so many kids.  When the funding ran out Sew For Kids, Lakota Friends Circle and Ravelry-For the Children of PRR sent donations so those who wanted to swim with their friends, could.

South Dakota summers are usually hot and dry so sunscreen, hats and sunglasses are always welcome.  Kids have either outgrown or worn out their school shoes so they’ll need replacing with summer shoes such as flip flops, tennis shoes and sandals.  Shoes can be new or gently used condition, donation guidelines are here.

A few of Wanblee’s plans for the summer are planting vegetable gardens and fixing up the local park so kids have a safe area to play.  Kids will be swimming, horseback riding, camping, or playing basketball, soccer and baseball with bike riding a possibility if Jerome can get used bikes through an organization . Youthwork teens could teach kids safe riding, maintenance and repair skills when visiting this summer.  We’re hoping the community center will have a library so kids can find a quiet corner or the cool shade of a tree to escape for awhile with a good book about adventures in a faraway land or their own back yard.  Teens from Youthworks and students from various universities visit every summer to interact with and teach kids different skills and hold movie nights.  Some church groups also come to visit and hold day camps with arts and crafts and other fun activities.

In Martin the kids at the youth center will be using the computers, reading, tending the vegetable garden (twice the size of last year), swimming and maybe taking some day trips to learn about their culture and traditions.  Girls and boys participating in the coming of age program will attend a 4 day camp for official ceremonies, etc.  Kimmie will be busy overseeing all the programs she’s responsible for and working at the shelter fencing the yard to make a safe play area for the kids and installing sidewalks to keep mud out of the shelter.

Marty Indian School kids may be visiting the local Boys and Girls Club that will be open through end of June. Kids can do extra school work there to catch up if they’ve fallen behind in their studies so they’re ready to start school in the Fall.  Of course they’ll be using the playground equipment, have arts and crafts activities and play games as well.   Try to have your clothing and other donations to the school by the first week of May so Paulita has time to stock the Feather Store.

Bright Start’s Mary Mousseau will continue to see her babies and toddlers, deliver all your wonderful gifts and welcome new babies due to arrive in the next few months.  Mary and her clients are simply in awe of all the time and love you’ve put into each and every gift they’ve received.   Your response to their needs is nothing but amazing!

For a specific list of needs please read the above highlighted blogs.  Friends and family closets, thrift stores and garage sales are great places to shop for kids clothing and shoes.  Girls in all our areas absolutely love the beautiful dresses and skirts you’ve sent the past few years and always ask if they’ve arrived yet.  Mailing address are here.

Thank you so much for sharing your time, talent and treasures with the children in South Dakota, you’re all amazing people and we’re so lucky to have you!!

Sew For Kids.

 

 

 

 

 

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.