Thank You To Our Fans For a Successful Coat & Boot Drive!
Thank you to our Fans for the generous response to the Lakota Pine Ridge Children’s Enrichment Project’s Fall children’s coat and boot drive. The collective impact of everyone’s efforts will keep hundreds of Oglala Lakota children healthy, warm and better able to get to school this winter. As a group we have sent a clear message to the children of Pine Ridge — that people outside their community care about their welfare. So far, LPRCEP has shipped over 1500 pounds of coats, boots and warm outerwear to the Reservation, to four different communities in different regions.
What has happened to your donations?
1. The Community of Wanblee: On October 30 the Oglala Tribal Council’s Community Action Program (CAP) hosted a Halloween party for the children of the community of Wanblee and provided them with coats, boots, warm outerwear and toys. We had enough infant and toddler items this year that we were able to send supplemental large boxes to the Wanblee Day Care Center and to the Wanblee Head Start. Wanblee is one of the most remote communities on the Reservation and receives very little assistance and it remains one of our priority areas.
2. The Community of Pine Ridge: The Oglala Tribal Council’s Healthy Start Prenatal Program has distributed items to infants, mothers and small children affiliated with their program on an appointment basis. Healthy Start serves 320 high-risk mothers and their infants through the first year of life. Although the infant mortality rate is more than double the national average on the Reservation, at Healthy Start, the infant mortality rate is only 5 in 1000 births, below the national average. On our recent trip to the Reservation, a mother walked miles with her three small children, just to collect some clothing for her baby, a trek that she travels for her monthly appointments, too — a stark reminder of how much we take for granted in our own communities, like mass transportation and easily accessible medical assistance, for example.
3. The Community of Manderson: The Wounded Knee District School opened its doors to the surrounding community on Saturday, October 23, and distributed coats and boots on a first come basis.
4. The Community of Kyle: We sent so many boxes to the Little Wound School that they found themselves unable to orderly distribute the items. The Oglala Tribal Council’s Kyle Community Action Program enthusiastically stepped in, contacted the residents of the surrounding community and distributed coats and boots to the children.
5. Specific Families: Last but not least, we sent huge boxes of boots, coats, warm outerwear and blankets directly to several families we have met on the Reservation and identified as facing particularly challenging circumstances.
The Local NY Response
A huge thank you goes to the Scarsdale High School’s Reservation Aid Club, led by Co-Presidents and Co-Founders, Abby Weingarten and Helen Bush, who gathered a tremendous contribution and then along with club members devoted a Saturday to sorting and packaging items. The Scarsdale Congregational Church contributed loads of coats and boots, and made packaging one of the options for the community’s day of service, which in turn, gave us many additional hands to help sort and package. Hitchcock Presbyterian Church ran a coat drive and also made a huge contribution to this effort. Following its annual book sale, the Friends of the Scarsdale Library contributed children’s books, which we sent to the Crazy Horse School in Wanblee, a school that faces extreme challenges due, in part, to an underfunded budget that causes the library to be a very low priority.
The Global Response
In addition to the local response, many people outside our immediate community helped. A student from Irvington High School who found us on Facebook started a Pine Ridge Club, organized a community drive, collected coats and boots from all of the district schools and delivered a huge load that filled numerous boxes and large trash bags with coats and warm outerwear. A young student from Southern California collected and sent a huge box of the “warmest clothing [he] could find” to Wanblee. A former Scarsdale resident emailed to say that he had just received a gift of $1000 that he felt could be better used by the Lakota – he sent new boots and coats from LL Bean to three families who we know are facing particularly challenging winters.
Facebook Fans from all over the globe shipped to our four distributors from California, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Ohio, Chicago, New Jersey, Virginia, Long Island and many other locations. Some Fans provided coats and boots to families who we have identified as facing particularly challenging conditions; some took advantage of free shipping and sent new items directly from vendors; and others held their own community drives and sent items directly to our distributors.
Last but not least, the community of Hamilton New York, home to Colgate University, joined in our efforts this year. The Hamilton Library donated hundreds of children’s books and local residents donated loads of new and gently used children’s items.
What Is Next?
We will continue to send toys to the Wanblee CAP through December, to insure that the children all get gifts at a holiday party this year.
Our next big effort will be in January, when we will be launching our Second Annual Fill A Backpack Drive. Please keep your eyes open for backpack sales, school supplies, arts and craft materials, sneakers and sports equipment. In February and March, some of the schools run low on supplies and after months of extreme weather, the children need a lift. Children of all ages will need sneakers so that they can participate in sports and to keep their feet protected. We will be running our Second Annual Fill a Backpack Drive in January, aiming for a March delivery, when I will be on the Reservation to distribute the items with students and faculty from Colgate University.
Until next time…Maggie Dunne
Founder, LPRCEP and Colgate University’s Affiliated Project PEACE