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
- 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.
- 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.
- Provided school supplies so kids could be ready to learn – paper, pens and pencils, pencil cases, backpacks, crayons, glue, etc.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. .
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Provided food and goodie bags for the Easter and Christmas parties in Wanblee so kids could have some healthy options.
- Sent Christmas gifts for the Feather Christmas store at Marty Indian school where kids shopped for just the right gift for their family members.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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!!