Marty Indian School Update


Teachers returned to Marty Indian School two weeks ago to prepare their classrooms for the new school year beginning August 21.  Teachers met with the new elementary principal, Mr. George Erdahl, and new school superintendent, Gina Curran, who was promoted from her previous job of principal to her new position where she will oversee the entire school. Kids are always excited to get back to school to see all their friends but for these children it also means receiving regular meals at breakfast and lunch and help with other needs they did without over the summer.

Janet S., co-administrator of Sew For Kids, visited the school a few weeks ago  and delivered 4 sewing machines for Paulita’s sewing project, books and school supplies for the third grade and clothing, shoes, jackets and many other things for the Feather Store.  Mr. Erdahl gave Janet and her husband a quick tour of the school and they left with a very good  impression of both him and the school.  We’re sharing some of their pictures and pictures from Penny N visit last year  below.  I’ve since had a nice conversation with the principal and found him to be very friendly and personable and feel our group will have a good working relationship as we did with Gina last year.  He was very grateful for any help we can provide for his elementary students.


Sew For Kids volunteers have been busy this summer shopping sales for school supplies and shoes and sewing pencil cases and backpacks.    Many volunteers have already shipped their donations and others will be sending theirs soon.  Toiletries such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc. are always needed and can be sent anytime. Instead of sending these heavier items consider saving shipping costs by making a tax deductible donation to our mother organization, Lakota Friends Circle. Use the PayPal link on the site to make a monthly or one time donation and state how your gift is to be used. Anne Fields the Director of LFC  will either place a large order online getting free shipping or send a check to the school for Mr. Erdahl or Paulita to purchase goods locally at Wal-Mart. We’re not discouraging you from sending toiletries on your own but we’re always looking for ways to save our very generous donors money whenever we can and this is a great way to get more purchasing power.  Your donations to the SFK fund gave Anne the funds she needed to send an order of granola bars and shampoo to the school, requested by the new principal.  Please look at the picture of the Feather room, shelves are fully stocked for today’s returning students, a big thanks to all donors!

This year all toiletries and snacks arriving at the school will be stored in the main storage area where teachers can go to get what they need. The staff at Marty strives to maintain a child’s dignity so those at risk are taken privately from their class and given food and toiletries to take home, have their clothes laundered, given an outfit of clothing from the Feather Store and taken to the dorms for a shower if needed. Students found to have head lice are treated at the school for a two week period.  Towels and washcloths are always in short supply so if you find a good sale or are replacing yours they would love to have them. For those of you just joining us you can read more about the Feather Store here and here.  Closer to the holidays they have a Christmas Feather Store where students can shop for gifts for their families with feathers they’ve earned.  More information about this special store coming in a future blog.  Parents also earn feathers when their children do and can use them in the store to purchase clothing, toiletries and other items for their family. Getting parents into the school and involved with their children’s education is something the school has worked very hard on and now many classrooms have great attendance at parent-teacher conferences.   Having the Feather store is another way to get parents to visit the school and develop a rapport with staff so they feel comfortable attending school activities.  Lanetta S quilted a map of the USA and marked each of the volunteers’ location in the USA, Canada or Ireland on the quilt with a  button. And she added a note on the back where the items came from. Maybe this will hang near the Feather room? Thank you Lanetta.


Feather Store Ongoing Needs:

  • Shoes/Boots – Athletic type or other sturdy shoes suitable for school, snow or hiking type boots.
  • Socks and underwear -new only
  • Toiletries – bar soap, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, nail clippers, combs and brushes
  • Linens – towels and washcloths, pillows, pillowcases, sheets, dish towels and dish cloths
  • Clothing – Pants, shirts, dresses, skirts, leggings, tops, hoodies, sweatshirts, jackets, winter coats, pajamas, slippers.
  • Toys – board games, dolls, cars, books, football, soccer and basketballs, coloring and activity books. Anything suitable for children k-5 without batteries.
  • School and art supplies – Drawing, notebook and construction paper, colored pencils, crayons and markers, pencils, pencil sharpeners, pens, glue and glue sticks, rulers, stencils, etc.

All clothing, shoes, etc. above to fit children grades k-5, keep in mind some of the children in the upper grades may wear adult sizes. Since parents can also shop at the store adult sizes/styles are welcome as well as books and other items geared toward adults. Please read our donation guidelines here.  Items on this list are generally needed throughout the school year, keeping in mind the season, however we will be posting lists of items in short supply.  Below is a list of current needs, items in bold are a constant need and always in short supply.

  • Toiletries – see list above
  • Snacks – granola bars, fruit snacks, crackers, and other healthy items.
  • Winter Gear – warm hats, mittens, gloves and scarves
  • Pajamas – all sizes
  • Socks and underwear – new only
  • Pillows and pillowcases – pillows should be new or very gently used and freshly laundered.
  • Blankets – afghans, quilts, fleece, etc., anything warm.
  • Towels and washcloths – new or used in good condition.
  • Winter coats – all sizes

Our Teacher/Room Parent program is on again for this school year with a few changes to make things run a little smoother. Gina said students grades, test scores and attendance were up last year and that our program really made a difference. We have either one or two room parents per class and can always use more if you’re interested. If a teacher has a special project that requires more resources, our main group is ready to help out. Most of the group will mainly be sending things to the Feather Store but is on standby for any special requests if needed. Room parents are there to make kids feel special through the school year by recognizing their birthdays with a small gift and card, gifts at Christmas, treats and craft activities for class parties on Halloween, Christmas and other holidays. We all know teachers take from their own pockets to buy things for their class so we want to help lessen that burden.


Check with your teacher to see if they have a treasure box in their room to reward kids that work really hard or show good behavior and manners. Some kids have developmental or behavioral issues due to women using drugs or alcohol during pregnancy and many other reasons.  Others may come from dysfunctional or overcrowded homes or live in poverty and must deal with all the issues these problems bring. Teachers like to recognize students birthdays by having a small party with a treat and small gift. Many children’s birthdays go unnoticed at home so this is a chance to make them feel special for the day. Each room parent will receive a picture of their class and teacher, a monthly school newsletter, and have regular communication with the teacher via email or other means so you know how best to help. Please share stories and pictures with your class so students will get to know you and maybe the kids will do likewise.

Sew For Kids is absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Paulita Drapeau as she begins teaching a new sewing class to students, their first project is a traditional ribbon skirt. This project is a dream come true for us as a sewing group and since our beginning we’ve been hoping someone would teach children on the Rez how to sew.  Paulita is that special person we’ve been hoping to find and our volunteers have been busy filling her wish list. To learn more about this wonderful project and help with supplies please read this blog. Paulita will begin her sewing classes with 3 or 4 students held in the first hour of the school day.  She also plans to get elders and aunties from the community involved in the classes to help the students, something we’re delighted to see.  In addition to sewing Paulita is a talented crafter so we’re really excited to follow her project and see student’s finished skirts which we’ll be sharing with all of you.


All donations to the school should be shipped to this address. Since all boxes will now go through the main office make a note on your box if it’s for a certain class/teacher, the feather store or to Paulita for the sewing project. If you wish a response please send a SASE, for a charitable tax deduction fill out this form or design your own with the information and include in your box keeping a copy for yourself in case it gets misplaced. The school will sign and return to you for your records.

Other great ways you can help…..sending Box Tops for Education to the school so they can purchase special things and if you’re an Amazon shopper make sure to use Amazon Smile and enter “Lakota Friends Circle”, they will donate 0.5% of your order to SFK which gives us more funds to use for school needs.

The pictures below are some of the wonderful things that are headed to the school from our talented group. There are many more items sent that we never get photos of but this is a sample of the work of this wonderful group of volunteers.


We’re looking forward to the new school year at Marty Indian School, may it be a fun and successful year for everyone involved. Please join us on Face Book here for friendly conversation, pattern sharing, help with projects and more. As always thanks from Sew For Kids.







Marty Indian School Sewing Project

Last year we started helping Marty Indian School in Marty, SD with school supplies and stocking their Feather Store with clothing, toiletries, toys and other things students can purchase with feathers they earn for good behavior and attendance.  Several of our members participated in a room parent project which will continue this year. Those of you just joining us please read our July and August blogs from last year to learn more about the school.

This year we’ve been asked for our help with starting a sewing program for girls, and boys if they’re interested.  Feather Store manager and teaching assistant, Paulita Drapeau, who is also a very talented seamstress and crafter, would like to teach a sewing class for  students this school year.  Those of us that learned to sew in Home Ec class back in the day can remember how exciting it was to finish our first skirt or pair of shorts.  We also learned how to use an iron and mend our clothes and for some of us it was the beginning of our love affair with sewing and creating.   We want to help Paulita give the students at Marty the same opportunity we had to learn a new skill and maybe they’ll develop their own love for sewing.  Students now have the advantage of computers with YouTube videos, Pinterest, sewing blogs, and many other craft sites that provide an endless stream of free patterns and ideas to stimulate their creativity, the sky’s the limit!

Paulita is expecting 30 students to participate and their first project will be learning to make a ribbon skirt.  Women and girls wear these skirts to Pow Wow’s during the summer months although they may be worn any time of the year. While girls will most likely make up the majority of the class, boys are welcome to join in and make a skirt for their sister etc  They will need sewing machines, irons, fabric, thread, notions and ribbon.  We may apply to the Sewing Machine Project to see if they can help but the form has lots of questions that need answering before they would consider us. In the meantime Janet S. is visiting the Rez this summer and will be delivering 3 classic sewing machines to the school.  Janet is a collector of vintage machines and picks up most of them at garage sales and resale shops for less than $20.  They are easy to operate and maintain, very reliable and can take the abuse new students may give them.  I think we might get some from Nancy M too.  If you would like to donate a basic non-computerized machine please contact Janet here.  Thank you Janet for your donation of 3 of these machines.


Sewing Project Needs

  • Sewing machines – in good working order….non-computerized.  Please include bobbins if a special size is required.
  • Ribbon – Washable satin ribbon 7/8″, 1″, 1.5″  all colors and small prints,  minimum usable length is 1 yard
  • Fabric – Dress/quilting weight cotton or blend in solids or small prints, 2-3 yards per skirt depending on size.
  • Irons, etc. – Steam irons in good working condition, ironing boards with covers
  • Scissors – Dressmaker shears 7-8″, small scissors or thread snips.
  • Elastic – Non-roll 1″
  • Notions – Heat n Bond Lite, sewing machine needles, hand sewing needles, pins, pin cushions, good quality thread, seam gauges, tape measures, seam rippers, wash out chalk pencils, bobbins class 15 and 66, bobbin boxes, tins or baskets with lids for students to store supplies.

Please send your donations to Marty Indian School (scroll down) with a note stating it’s for the ribbon skirt project.   Please add your donations to our spreadsheet.

We’re really excited about this program as it’s taken quite a while to get groups on the Rez working together on a sewing project and we’re so happy kids are still interested in learning to sew.  We’ll keep you updated on their progress and hopefully they’ll share pictures of their skirts with us.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.

Marty Indian School Room Parent Program

We began the room parent program at Marty last year at the request of elementary school principal, Gina Curran.  She was looking for help with supplying classroom needs and help in stocking the Feather Store with clothing, toiletries, school supplies, toys and other items students “buy” with feathers they earn for good behavior, attendance, and exhibiting Lakota values.   Teachers are given a budget at the beginning of the year to buy supplies for their class but once those are used up and the fund is exhausted the only options are to take from their own pockets or do without which is why we decided to help. Since this is a tribal school, kids attending these schools are very poor and can not buy any school supplies so the school buys for all at the beginning of the year.  Last year was a wonderful learning experience for all of us and half of our volunteers have decided to return for another year.  The other half are continuing their support but prefer to donate to the school’s Feather Store.  Two volunteers were assigned to each class K-5 and mainly helped with providing school supplies, small gift items for birthdays, snacks, and craft supplies for seasonal or special craft projects.  The classes are small, usually around 15 or 16 with most grades losing a few students throughout the year.  We have the following openings for the 2017/18 school year:

  • Kindergarten – 2 people
  • Grade 1 -1 person
  • Grade 2-1 person
  • Grade 3- 1 person
  • Grade 5 -1 person

We can have more than 2 room parents per class . Maybe  you have a group of friends who want to help kids in a  class and one or 2 of you elect to talk with the teacher.  You’ll be communicating directly with your teacher via email or phone and  receive a picture of your class and teacher.  We suggest you send them a photo of yourself (and pets!) and a note telling them a little about yourself and why you want to help their class.  Send a card occasionally for the teacher to read to the class.  Teachers will acknowledge your donations shortly after arrival and you can learn what your class is doing through the school’s monthly newsletter.  Gina is setting up time the first week of August when teachers arrive back at school so they can call and talk with their room parents.  At that time you can decide how you all wish to communicate throughout the year and how often.  Gina’s hoping there will be some communication from the teacher on a weekly basis and is providing the extra time to do so.  You’ll also be emailing (or calling) your partner discussing class needs and coordinating donations.  The school is a 501(c)(3) so all donations are tax deductible, please include a SASE with this completed form and include it in your box.  We suggest notifying your teacher via email that a box is on the way and  state the tentative delivery date if possible, label your box with the classroom as all shipments are delivered to the main office. Take a look at this page for information re sending to the school.

Popular requests last year:

  • Snack foods – such as granola bars, crackers, fruit cups, etc.
  • School supplies – paper, crayons, markers, pencils, glue sticks, etc.
  • Craft supplies – construction paper, pipe cleaners, sequins, beads, yarn, ribbon, pompons and holiday themed craft items.
  • Treasure box – small toys, books, crayons, markers, coloring books, etc. to use as rewards or birthday gifts.
  • Toiletries – shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, sanitary pads, hotel sized toiletries are fine
  • Books – for individual class libraries.
  • Socks and underwear
  • Christmas gifts – popular items were hats, mittens, pillows with pillowcase, blankets.  Many children sleep on the floor.
  • a special need for a child in the class that only that child will receive
  • white board pens for the teacher
  • kleenex, bandaids
  • towel and washcloth  Many do not have one.

Of course you are not expected to send all these items to your class. These were just some of the requests that came up . You decide with the teacher what is most needed. Many of our room parents last year chose to send gift certificates for Walmart and giving direct donations to the school for their class so supplies could be purchased locally saving time and shipping costs.  Another option is to purchase online and have it shipped to a local store such as Walmart or Dollar Tree for pickup by your teacher or school assistant, Paulita.  There are many different ways to help and we present these ideas to you as options, you and your partner decide what’s best for you and your class.

As a room parent if you get a request that’s inappropriate or can’t afford please let us know, we’re here to help and have a group of volunteers standing by to assist when needed.  We also have many supporters that help keep the Feather Store stocked with toiletries, snacks, clothing, and other supplies that can help students.  Please contact Carol here if you’re interested in becoming a room parent for the new school year.  Gina reports attendance and test scores were both up last year and credits this program as one of the reasons for improvement.  Parents also loved the program as their children were able to get school supplies, warm clothing, shoes and many other things they simply can’t afford to provide.

If room parenting isn’t your cup of tea we’re also looking for volunteers to help support the Feather Store including a special section for the holidays where students can go shopping for gifts for family members. That program was a big hit with the kids and they loved to wrap that special something for a family member  Read these blogs here and here.  You can also help by making a donation to Sew For Kids through Lakota Friends Circle so we can purchase food and toiletry items for the school.  If you do make a donation ,please note where it’s to be used. Also if you shop Amazon on line, consider using Amazon Smile as donations for Lakota Friends Circle add up and allow us to help our programs with needs. Another way to help the school is thru the BOX TOPS for Education program. Just make sure if you send them that the coupons are not out of date. Thank you.

However you decide to help the kids whether it’s by becoming a room parent, giving a donation to SFK or sending goods to the Feather Store, your help is much appreciated by us and by principal Gina Curran and will make a difference to the students at Marty Indian School.

Thanks as always from Sew For Kids. If you are interested in working on projects with a group, join us on Facebook at Sew For Kids Volunteers.

July-August Projects

It’s that time again, running a little behind schedule as usual,  but we’re always eager to begin a new project.  Our yearly project schedule was posted last December and we do try to follow it as best we can, but special requests and emergencies do come up from time to time.  We like to post a year’s worth of projects so you can look ahead to see what’s needed and find another project if the current one doesn’t interest you or you don’t have a particular skill.  Looking ahead lets you shop ahead and take advantage of summer garage sales and store clearance sales.  This month and next we’re concentrating on everything for back to school.  School supplies are or will be on sale starting this month and summer clothing will be on the clearance racks.  For our sewers purchase a top and make the pants/skirt or vice versa.  For parents or grandparents of school age children, time to clean out the closets of outgrown clothing and send to the Rez for children in need.

   School Supplies

  • Paper – loose leaf, notebooks, construction, unlined, folders and  safety scissors.
  • Pencils – plain and fancy, colored, pencil sharpeners, pencil cases, pens, erasers, rulers.
  • Crayons – and markers both thick and fine line.
  • Glue – sticks and bottles of Elmer’s.
  • Backpacks – purchased new or good used condition, home sewn too.

School Clothing 4T through 16/18

  • Clothing – Pants, shirts, T shirts, skirts, dresses/jumpers with leggings for cooler weather, light jackets or hoodies
  • Socks/Underwear, Pajamas –  Underwear new only please.
  • Shoes – Sturdier shoes are best as most don’t have winter boots.  In sizes to fit K through grade 5 kids.

The new school year begins the 2nd or 3rd week of August in many areas, teachers will arrive a week before.  Although colder weather usually begins in October, mornings and evenings can be cool in September.  Shorts can still be worn for a month or so and after that may be used for gym class.  As winter approaches girls will end up in jeans, but earlier in the school year they love to wear skirts and dresses.  Light outerwear such as hoodies, fleece jackets and sweaters are worn until late October when the temps dip and heavier winter coats are wished for.

Socks and underwear are a continual need regardless of the season so watch for sales and stock up when the prices are low.  Kids need at least 2-3 pairs each of underwear and socks so they can wash and dry the extras nightly and always have a clean pair ready.  My kids thought turning them inside out added another day of wear!

Shoes are always needed by children as they’re rapidly outgrowing them, sometimes several times a year.  Ideally we would like every child to have a new pair of shoes but we know that’s not going to happen with a small (although extremely generous!) group.   Look for shoes and boots in good condition at garage sales, thrifts, or your own closet, maybe your kids have outgrown theirs over the summer.  Most kids don’t own a pair of boots which is why extra socks are needed, they get wet feet walking to school and playing outside in the rain and snow.  Slippers would be ideal for kids to put on when they get home from school and are an easy, portable project for knitters and crocheters.

Last but certainly not least are pajamas.  This is considered a luxury item and kids get really excited when they get a pair.  Buy a long sleeve T shirt and make the pants from flannel or fleece.  Make a pillowcase too and send along with the PJ’s, they can always stuff it with clothes to make a pillow if they don’t have one.

Kimmie Clausen, Director of My Space Youth Center and the Sacred Shawl Domestic Abuse Center in Martin likes to have clothing and school supplies available to give out to children when school begins.  Kids who are at the shelter more than 2 or 3 days are sent to school in Martin or bused to their home school if the distance is manageable.  Kimmie knows which kids in the community are most in need and makes sure they’re outfitted for school, that is if she gets enough donations.  Any surplus goes to the youth center where kids finish their homework and also to the local school for students in need.

Marty Indian school will put all donations in the Feather Store for students to earn through their feather points.  Any child arriving without supplies will be given what they need to start school from the store.

Wanblee usually gets a shipment from Running Strong for school that includes shoes, backpacks and some school supplies.  They might get a delivery from NAHA containing some school supplies and clothing but it’s really hit or miss.  Other donations received are from Families Working Together from Wisconsin that helps with Christmas and Easter and is helping build the new community center.

With continually rising shipping costs free is best, ask friends, family, church members and co-workers for donations.  Some of our members have gotten items free or at bargain prices from garage sales when they tell people about their cause.

Well that should be enough to keep everyone busy for the next two months!  We are so grateful to each and every one of you that has chosen to help the children of Pine Ridge and Marty Indian School.  Your hearts are big and your talents are awesome, thank you!!!  If you want to join our working group, join us at Sew For Kids Volunteers on Facebook.

Please send your donations to the area of your choice here  









Martin News Update

Days after our last blog was posted we received word Kimmie has received one of the grants she applied for. She put in 12 hour days for two weeks working on this grant and all her hard work paid off when she was awarded $30,000 to rehab the shelter inside and out and another $50,000 that will be used to help 15 clients from the shelter for a year as they transition to new housing. Most women and children can’t return to their previous abusive homes and don’t have the money to acquire new housing. This grant will help pay the deposit and first two months rent while clients look for work. Rent payments will decrease gradually over the next six months with the client assuming full responsibility thereafter. Clients will receive help with furnishings and other needs and receive education as they begin their new lives. Kimmie received the grant in person and while there was asked to serve on the board of the organization as they work to find solutions for homelessness across the country. She will be the only Native American on the board and if this project succeeds more funding could be available in the future. Congratulations Kimmie for all the hard work you do making life better for your people!

The garden project has begun at the youth center with 15 kids showing up to help on the first day, hopefully their enthusiasm continues. NAHA brought sunscreen in their last shipment so they’re asking kids to use it while out in the hot SD sun. Sun hats can be used and is a quick project for our sewers to make if interested.


Picnic tables and sun shelters are on Kimmie’s wish list for the shelter and the youth center. It’s a lot easier to get funding for the shelter than the youth center but she does get some money for the center from the casino’s allotment of monies to communities quarterly for youth, elders and families. It isn’t a lot of money but it helps . Thru Native American grants she has received help for specific programs such as her Isnati (coming of age) program for girls.


My Space Youth Center

Kimmie says the swimming program is a success and swim suits have arrived but they could still use more. Towels will be delivered this weekend when Laurie Allen makes her way to Martin from her home in Kansas. She gets donations of towels and sheets from hotels when they’re replaced and this is something we could all inquire about in our local communities. The kids will have to turn in their towels to the center before they leave so the stock should last for a while. They have a washing machine and dryer at the youth center so can wash the towels. Kimmie received money from the SDSU Extension office to buy swim passes for the kids but has gone through all those funds and there are still kids that want to swim but can’t afford the $25 for a pass. If you would like to help these kids join the fun this summer you can send your donations to Lakota Friend’s Circle and note your donation is for swim passes for the kids in Martin.

After swimming Kimmie says the kids come back to the center famished. She didn’t get funding for the summer food program she applied for but she did arrange for a bus to take kids to American Horse school where they can receive lunch on weekdays and many are using the program. Food needs skyrocket during the summer without the school provided breakfast and lunch so they are making sandwiches daily for kids at the center. Our fund at Lakota Friend’s Circle is growing and this month we put $100 on Kimmie’s account at the local DakotaMart food center and also added another $200 from donors requesting their donations be used for the youth center. Now Kimmie can shop for fresh food such as fruit, veggies, milk, bread, cheese and eggs at her local grocery. She gets the rest of the food she needs from the food bank in Rapid City for 18 cents a pound, unfortunately a round trip to the city usually runs about $200.

Kimmie said that 7 girls are participating in the Isnati program which starts this weekend and lasts for 4 days. A midwife came to the youth center this week to give a presentation to the girls about their bodies, birth control, STD’s, etc. before setting off for their ceremony. Kimmie has received more funding to continue this program which she feels is so important for the girls as many get little or no information about these subjects in their home environments. Mothers can also participate in the program with their daughters which can be an important bonding experience for them. For many years this ceremony wasn’t praticed but with the help of knowledgeable elders it is enjoying a revival, boys have a coming of age ceremony as well.

Current shelter and CDC needs are sports bras M-XL or regular bras in 34-38 in B through D cups.  Barb Reinert sent several dozen underwear to the shelter thru R.G. Riley. She wants to see the quality as would be a good source to help women and kids. Carol Austin makes underwear for the kids as have some of the other members Christine Widman etc  and the kids love them .

More women are coming to the CDC at the end of the month needing diapers, formula and toiletries. Kimmie is encouraging some of these women to use cloth diapers so needs diaper pins and plastic pants or other waterproof cover as well as cloth diapers. Kimmie doesn’t have disposable diapers for use at the shelter on a regular basis so will be using cloth ones there as well. The diapers can be made from old towels, T shirts, flannel, etc. Patterns can be found here or you can cut a 27 inch square  or a 27 x 20 inch rectangle from suitable fabric and finish the edges with an overlock or zigzag stitch. Tote bags are needed to hold the diapers and supplies. Pamela A and Deidra Q-H made some in the past for the shelter.


Laurie and her friend are making a whirlwind 2 day trip to the Rez this weekend to set up the library in the youth center and we’ll be sharing her photos and a full report soon. She has collected 300 books over the past year but more will be needed as we think of different ways to get books into the hands of mothers so they can begin reading to their children as infants. She will also make a stop at the elder center in Wanblee to drop off some items and meet Jerome.

Sewing supplies and fabric are needed for both the youth center and the shelter. Sewing machines will be delivered in early August when Janet S. makes her trip to the Rez, but if you have a machine to send they can always be used by women in the community. Thanks go to all those sewing dresses for the girls, wish we could see all those beautiful, smiling faces wearing their new dresses! Thanks to Margaret H, Joan Deaver’s group (Hands in Service), Lanetta Sprout and Janet S for the last group of dresses heading to the kids. More thanks to those sending all the beautiful summer clothing, shoes, bathing suits and toys for the kids. You’ve all helped make the summer months a little brighter and a little more fun!




There is always so much need in the areas we serve but we plod along, do the best we can and help when and where we can. Thank you all for whatever you choose to do. Donations for Martin can be sent here.

Wanblee, Martin and Marty School News


Our hearts have been heavy at SFK since hearing the news of the passing of several members of the High Horse family.  Jerome and Theresa lost a granddaughter, three great granddaughters including one due to be born in August, and a grandson in a car accident on May 27 five miles from Wanblee.  The fiancé’ of their granddaughter was also killed, their great grandson was the only survivor.  They had already been in mourning for the loss of Theresa’s sister and niece and Jerome’s sister who had all passed within the last two weeks before this tragedy.  The community of Wanblee is pulling together and they’re relying on each other to deal with their unimaginable pain and loss.  Sew For Kids and many other groups raised funds to purchase food for the wake which lasted two days, the funerals were held the following day.  Community member Monica, who received money to purchase and prepare the meals said, “Your unselfish, kind, timely contributions have made an unbearable situation easier.”  Any late donations and/or extra money will be donated to the elder center in memory of the lost loved ones.  Since the accident Wanblee has lost three more members of the community, one of them a 12 year old boy who hung himself.  The pain they’re enduring is just heartbreaking and hard to comprehend, we send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the family and the community at large.  Kimmie Clausen, shelter director and her financial director were related to the lost loved ones and are also dealing with the loss.  Our thoughts and prayers are with them as well.

Last month Jerome and Theresa High Horse hosted a Mother’s Day Celebration at the Kennedy Center to honor elder women from the community over the age of 70.  Other attendees at the event was the newly elected tribal president, Troy “Scott” Weston, and the vice president of Sinte Gleska University (SGU) located on the Rosebud Reservation.  Two elders received special recognition for their service to the community, Eleanor Charging Crow (Theresa’s mother) for her lifetime of dedication to the ambulance service on Pine Ridge and Marie Randall, who just happened to be celebrating her 98th birthday, for her continuing support of the local health, education and police departments.  Lakota Friends Circle collected funds to purchase food for the party with many donations coming from SFK, the Ravelry knitting group and Pine Ridge Elders.  Other members of these groups generously donated shawls, toiletries and other gift items for the elders.  Jerome thanked us for our support and help in making the day a memorable event for the ladies.  Elder males in the community will get their opportunity to be honored later this month on Father’s Day.

Our blog last month focused on the needs of the Wanblee Elder Center and since then SFK members and others have donated a new mop and other cleaning supplies, cutlery, plastic containers for home delivery of meals, coffee, tea, spices, kitchen linens, two electric skillets and many other things.  Someone has donated several tables to the center and SFK member, Christine W. has a friend that made beautiful table toppers for them.  Laurie A is still planning to visit Wanblee this summer and set up a library and game area for the center so please send your donations of books, magazines, games, word search and other puzzle books or anything else destined for the center to Jerome and Theresa  here  and they’ll deliver to them.  Thanks to everyone for your generous donations and Laurie A., please bring back lots of pictures from your visit to the Rez!


Although this group was formed to serve children on the Rez, the truth is many of them are being raised by their grandparents.  Elders volunteer their time in the community as foster grandparents at school reading to children and giving those in need a little extra TLC.  They  help make boxes for community families when Running Strong and NAHA deliver food, toiletries and other goods.  Elders are a wealth of information about the history and culture of the Lakota people and are vital for passing along their knowledge to younger generations. Whatever we do to help elders is directly benefiting children as well.

The school year has ended at Marty Indian school in Marty, SD and kids are starting their summer vacation unless they’re in need of help with some of their classes.  Summer school classes are being held at the local Boys and Girls Club through June and those attending will receive breakfast and lunch.  We worry about kids getting adequate food when school isn’t in session as most families are just getting by and without the meal program provided by the school it puts extra strain on an already meager household budget.  The Feather Store (blog here) stays open until the end of June and reopens the third week of August when the new school year begins.  During a recent phone conversation elementary principal, Gina Curran, said she felt the room parents and Feather Store programs we assisted with really helped make a difference to the students and their performance.  She reported the current overall average for Reading-1.2 year’s growth, Math- 1.4 year’s growth, both 1.3 year’s growth, the number of disciplinary incidences decreased by 50% and attendance was up to 92%.

Gina wrote this to me, “There have been times over the year where you ladies have saved a child more than once.  Just this week we were able to take a pair of brothers to the feather store to find shoes and clothes to replace their worn out ones.  The children were so surprised and thankful.  I had a grandma come to see me last week to ask if she could get undergarments for her grandchildren.  None of this would’ve been possible without your group”

We will continue the room parent program in the new school year with some modifications, this was the first year and was a learning process for all of us.  Most of the teachers are returning to their classrooms, some of our volunteers will continue as room parents but others are leaving to solely focus on the Feather Store so we’ll need some new recruits.  Those of you that like to work ahead and shop the sales can start looking for school supplies, clothing, shoes, warm clothing and outer wear, toiletries, towels, linens, toys, books and gift items the kids can “buy” from the Feather Store for their family’s Christmas gifts.  Kids earned over 15,000 feathers for good behavior, exhibiting Dakota values, etc. this year.  We’re coordinating with a staff member at the school on a sewing program for the girls/boys next year, more information in a future blog.  For the latest news and pictures from the school refer to this page of their website

Laurie Allen will soon be heading to Martin (and Wanblee) to set up a reading corner at the My Space youth center.  A big thanks to all the people that are already sending books to the center.  Martha Growdon, an independent consultant with Usborne Books and SFK member, has a summer book box program where you can buy books to send to your kids over the summer vacation to keep them reading.  She has set up an option for subscribers to donate $15 to help send books to the My Space youth center in Martin.  She also gets a “bonus” box of books from the company whenever she sells a book box so those books would also go to the youth center.  Thank you Martha for your efforts in getting books to the youth center!  For more information about this program and/or to make a donation please visit her Facebook page here.   More information about this program in an upcoming blog.  We would love to get books to the Bright Start nurses to give out when making home visits to new mothers so they can start reading to their children as infants.  Books could also be given out to moms visiting the CDC toward the end of the month when they’ve run out of diapers and formula.  We’re thinking of how to get books into the hands of kids that live in the outlying communities where they have no access to books so please send us your ideas.  Marty Indian school would love to have books for kids to “buy” in the Feather store for themselves or as gifts for family members.  For those of you sending books to the Rez, the most economical way to ship is via media mail using the USPS.

The shelter in Martin has been receiving lots of summer clothing which they share with kids in need at the youth center as well as needy kids in the community Kimmie’s aware of.  Others across the Rez know about Kimmie and the work she does so will call her for help with their clothing needs. Thank you all fro what has been sent in.  SFK started sending dresses to all our donation areas a few years ago when we had several members from Dress a Girl Around the World  join us.  These wonderful ladies sent a few dresses and the response was immediate, the girls loved them!  Well the rest of us were bitten by the dress bug and we’ve been sending dresses to the girls ever since.  Our members without sewing skills or the spare time to sew shop for ready made dresses and other clothing for the kids.  A lot of summer dresses have already been sent the past few months as pictured below and others are still on their way from Cyrilla H. and Joan D’s groups and we’ll share pictures of those dresses too if we receive them.  The dresses are absolutely stunning and we’re crossing our fingers that we get a few pictures of the girls modeling them!


Kimmie is getting free swim passes for the kids at the pool in Martin and needs swim towels and suits.  Laurie A’s daughter works at a hotel and gets used towels and sheets whenever they’re replaced with new ones.  Try asking your local hotels if they would donate their linens when replacing.  Angela B. and Donna S. are sending lots of swimsuits but they can still use more.  Wanblee has a pool  kids can use at Crazy Horse school so they can use towels and suits as well. And they too have been receiving dresses,  shorts and tops as well for their kids, thanks to all of you.   Kimmie laughs every time we ask if she needs towels because so few people have them and clients are always sneaking them out of the shelter when they leave.  Kimmie says they’re out of bras again at the shelter.  New and used bras in good condition are needed, sports bras in sizes 34-38C seem to be the most popular sizes but any size/type is acceptable.

Kimmie reviewed her budget for the Youth Center and discovered she only had enough funding to hire one person to oversee their programs.  She has recruited local volunteers to help and also has female elders working with the girls and their programs so she feels comfortable with just the male hire for now.   The siding on the center has been replaced as it kept blowing off and the kids painted the outside and are in the process of staining the deck.  Kimmie recently held a clean up day with the kids so they picked up litter from the center grounds and other areas as well.

Kimmie has applied for a grant to rehab the shelter and finish the rooms upstairs over the garage. She’s given up on trying to acquire funds from the Four Directions Clinic in Kyle that was set aside for a new shelter (which in all likelihood will never be built).  She also applied for more funding for the girl’s “coming of age” programs.  They need a few more sewing machines for use at the shelter’s sewing corner and a few for the youth center for the girls to use when sewing their ceremonial dresses.  Fabric, thread, ribbon, trim, and other sewing notions are always needed.

We want to extend a warm welcome to all new members at SFK.  We hope you’ll be inspired by our volunteers and the work they do and motivated by the stories of the children we tell.  Our current project is making/buying bags including toiletry, tote, messenger, book, diaper, etc. and blankets including quilts and afghans in sizes from baby to queen and sheets, towels, and washcloths.  If this project doesn’t appeal to you work ahead on one of the others for the year.  If you don’t sew or craft but still want to help the kids you can make a one time or monthly donation to Lakota Friends Circle  to help with emergency needs.  We’re currently using $75 a month to purchase perishable food items locally for the youth center in Martin and last month we sent much needed toiletries to the students at Marty Indian School.

Our goal at SFK is to do projects that move kids and families forward, not just giving handouts.  Since so many kids live in poverty on the Rez and come from dysfunctional families they have many basic needs that need attention before they’re able to move ahead.  We work with trusted and reliable members of schools, shelters, clinics and communities that can help educate kids and their families and provide them with basic needs donated by our group.  We want parents to have resources for their children such as diapers, clothing, basic toiletries, school supplies and books to learn, healthy food to nourish their minds and bodies and basic toys and comfort items to help them deal with the stresses they face every day.  We make a difference one child at a time. Kids need to feel loved and supported and if they don’t receive it at home then maybe they can get it through the programs of the organizations we support.   We thank you and the children thank you for your continued generosity and support!



Wanblee Elder Center

Julia R. has been the manager of the elder center in Wanblee for the past 14 years and has seen many changes during that time.  She says the building is 40 years old, is owned by the elders and in need of many repairs. Since the building is owned by the elders and not the tribe they’re not able to get any assistance from them for maintenance and repairs.  Jerome says the community does get a quarterly stipend from the casino for the elders so is hoping some of that money can be used for some of their needs.

The floor needs replacing, lighting is outdated with many fixtures not working, doors and windows are in poor condition and they need a secondary interior door to prevent further heat loss when someone enters or exits the building.  The heat source is electric base board heaters and most aren’t working so they’ve been using a propane stove to warm the building on the coldest days which puts everyone at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, luckily the building is drafty.  Most of the elders don’t stay very long because the building isn’t warm and there aren’t enough chairs to sit down and eat their lunch or socialize.  The plumbing is old, the roof needs repairs and there are holes in the walls that need patching, fencing around the property is falling down.  Keeping the building tight is critical to save on heating bills and keeping rodents out that may carry the Hantavirus which can be fatal.

A local church group recently painted the interior but the color is a darker blue making an already dark building even darker which isn’t good for elders with vision problems.  Jerome recently received a donation of paint so if that turns out to be a lighter color maybe Youthworks could repaint the center as one of their community projects this summer.  They have one window air conditioner donated by Hearts of the Sacred Spirit but it’s not large enough to cool the entire building.  The cook stove has 6 burners but they have a problem keeping them lit and the oven often goes out which makes baking very frustrating.  Julia has to get on the floor and try to relight the burner which is extremely hazardous and puts her at risk for burns or worse.

The refrigerator is old and the temperature fluctuates from freezing food to not operating at all resulting in the loss of a lot of their food, they do have 2 freezers in good working order.  Their food is provided by the tribe but Julia must make the 200+ mile trip every two weeks to pick it up in Pine Ridge, each area has a budget so they can only pick up what they need for 2 weeks.  Jerome tries to supplement their food whenever possible from donations he receives from NAHA, the food bank in Rapid City, and Running Strong.  If Julia runs out of other items like food containers for home delivery, she has to make the long trip back to Pine Ridge so sometimes  it’s easier for her to buy supplies locally using her own money.  The tribe provides them with bleach and dish soap to wash dishes, there is no dishwasher.  Julia buys her own Pine sol, SOS pads and many other supplies.  They are in need of a new industrial size mop, the current one is falling apart and most of the “mop” has worn away to half it’s original size.

They currently have 2 small tables, 2 larger folding tables but only  8 chairs, and a small sofa with matching chair which means they can’t accommodate very many people at one time.   There are 90+ elders enrolled in the feeding program but they actually serve or deliver around 40 meals a day Monday through Friday.  Many elders live in the outlying areas and have no transportation so their meals are delivered.  They’re in need of many things for the kitchen and the rest of the building:

  • Cleaning supplies/paper products – Pine Sol/disinfecting cleaner, SOS pads/pot scrubbers. laundry detergent, liquid hand soap, paper towels, toilet paper.
  • Kitchen needs – Bread pans, cookie sheets, large roasting pan, large serving spoons, ladles, spatulas, measuring cups, etc.
  • Appliances – Warming/chafing dishes, electric frying pan, 2 or 3 large crockpots, heavy duty mixer such as KitchenAid
  • Plastic – large garbage, quart and gallon size Ziploc, carry-out food boxes with 3 compartments, small containers for soup and fruit, plastic cutlery, napkins, any plastic food containers with lids such as cottage cheese, yogurt, butter, etc.
  • Linens – dish towels and cloths, sturdy full size aprons, tablecloths (vinyl easily cleaned), cloth or paper napkins.
  • Dishes and silverware – currently they have no stainless cutlery of any kind or plates, coffee cups, bowls, etc.

We’re looking at ways to use carryout containers that can be reused and not end up in the landfill, please let us know your ideas.  The tribe does provide the plastic cutlery but if they run out Julia has to buy it locally.  Cloth bags could be used to deliver the food instead of paper or plastic but we would need to make those. Again, we need your ideas.

Julia really wants to get the building fixed up to look more inviting and welcoming so the elders can sit down and enjoy their lunch and stay around to socialize with friends and maybe play games or read.  One of our SFK members, Laurie A., is going out to the Martin youth center in May to set up a library/game center for the kids.  She would love to set up the same for the elder center, Julia said it would certainly be a welcome addition for the elders.  They need chairs (Laurie’s bringing some with her) for dining and additional seating and could use a couple of sewing machines for the ladies to use.  We look forward to receiving a full report on Laurie’s visit to the Rez and hopefully lots of pictures too.

The elder honoring party for women over 70 will take place this Sunday on Mother’s Day.  Male elders will have their turn to be honored on Father’s Day in June.  We had an overwhelming response to Jerome’s request for help with food for this party, a big heartfelt thanks to everyone contributing.  It’s a little late to be asking for gifts for the party on Sunday but their needs are ongoing and Jerome can deliver them any time.   He suggested Polident, Polygrip, denture containers, towel/washcloth, nail clippers, toiletry items, coffee and tea.  Not sure we would want to be honored with Polident but it is something they need and most can’t afford to buy it.  The same gift list is good for elder men too, please send your donations here.

If you would like to help the elders in Wanblee please join us as we try to make their center a little more comfortable and inviting for them.   Please share your ideas for the center and thanks for all you do.

Here is a very good article about the food situation on Pine Ridge,