Giving fills the heart with warmth. This holiday season, Native Hope experienced the immense generosity of our supporters and partners. Their joy of giving allowed us to provide toys, food, clothing, natural medicines, blankets, heaters, and more to the Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Rosebud, Yankton, and Pine Ridge reservations.
Our COVID-relief efforts for families on quarantine remained ongoing with the delivery of groceries, hygiene items, cleaning supplies, and games/activities to 10 families. Additional support went to the Lower Brule Boys and Girls Club [LBBGC]. We put together six prize baskets for two separate decorating contests held by the club. Also, Native Hope contributed $1,520 to the LBBGC to purchase gifts for the 76 youth members. Our friends at the club shopped for the kids and helped make Christmas special.
Special visit from friends for outreach efforts
We had special guests visit us in early December. Members of PAZA-Tree of Life and the Antinanco Earth Arts School, both non-profits, gave us another opportunity to connect communities with more support. They brought gifts for the local reservations, including bikes, wellness packs with teas and medicines, clothing, toys, food, and wisdom. Delwin Fiddler, Executive Director of PAZA and member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, performed a traditional grass dance for members of the Native Hope team and St. Joseph Indian School staff members. His moving performance was a homecoming for Delwin, who attended the school when he was a boy. The visit provided us the opportunity to come together and experience fellowship—socially distanced, of course.
Making Christmas special for children from the Yankton Sioux Tribe
This year brought about unusual circumstances for individuals and companies alike. Unfortunately, we know when one person, a business, or a company is affected by some extrinsic factor [COVID-19], it easily creates a cascade effect on many others within a community. Over and over this year, this was the case, leaving so many individuals and families affected. Also, this easily could have been the end result for many of our children and families with whom we work through Child Protection Services. This time of year the only concern a young child should have is deciding what to ask for from Santa for Christmas.
Due to the impact of COVID, one of our major donors was unable to contribute donations of Christmas presents as they have in the past. However, when reaching out to other organizations to inquire about funding for Christmas presents, one nonprofit stood out and quickly answered the call. Native Hope went above and beyond when supplying Christmas presents for 25 children. The Native Hope team provided the children with the exact presents they asked for and more. But what is most important to me, when looking at the bigger picture, is those 25 children will never know Native Hope gave them what every child needs on Christmas: hope, faith and true Christmas magic. Thank you, Native Hope, for ensuring that the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of giving, is still alive.
Lake Andes Child Protection Services
Special surprise from Warstic
Since the spring of 2019, we have been striving to complete a youth baseball field for the Crow Creek District community. The project experienced a significant setback in 2020 with the pandemic's onset, but through it all, Warstic has been a constant supporter of our efforts. In mid-December, Sarah White, Event Coordinator for Warstic, sent us an email: "We've been working on an idea that we'd love your insight on. To go along with the field, we have a bunch of our new Hawk bats that we'd love to send and be distributed to the kids for Christmas." It was an easy "yes" for us! Warstic sent 40 bats for the kids and team. Crow Creek community partner, Tamra Merritt, helped us deliver the bats to families just before Christmas Day. Some kids couldn't wait—they ripped right into the package—Philámaya, Warstic, for sending these special gifts.
Remembering the elders
One of our goals this holiday season was to remember the elders in the communities. Team members and volunteers cut and assembled 60 tie blankets. The project transformed our office for a couple of weeks, but the outcome was fantastic. Not only did we make soft, warm blankets, but also, we put together kits with prayer ties and Native medicines for making teas and smudging. We equally divided these gifts between the Crow Creek and Lower Brule elders.
Along with the above, we packed and delivered 36 holiday meal kits for the Crow Creek reservation elders. Each bag contained a small ham, potatoes, green beans, dinner rolls, and cookies. Remembering to honor the elders is essential in Lakota and Dakota tradition.
Special delivery from Maine
Another unique donation came when our friend from Maine, a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight NE, told us Angel Flight would like to send the kids Mr. Potato Head dolls. He added that Maine produces some of the best potato chips, so to accompany the dolls, our pilot delivered 1,500 hundred bags of Fox Family Potato Chips, Inc. of Maine—he hoped that at least one child would ask about Maine or make a connection. On December 19, our donor and his co-pilot flew from Maine to Chamberlain with a Christmas delivery. The potato chips made their way to the Crow Creek Reservation youth via the Crow Creek Tribal School's lunch program—the program delivered holiday food boxes to the students on December 23. Our team delivered the Mr. Potato Heads to several Head Start programs and families. This creative gift sparked many discussions!
Providing warmth for families in the winter
Finally, each winter, the reality of harsh weather leaves many Native families with less than adequate heat in their homes. Some homes have heaters that cannot be repaired because the parts aren't made anymore, or the heaters aren't sufficient, or the family cannot afford the propane/electric bill. We wanted to assist, so we placed space heaters on our Amazon Wishlist. Many of you answered the call and sent 59 heaters; we purchased another 41—all told, Native Hope delivered 50 heaters to each local reservation.
December was a month filled with surprises, generosity, and joy.
We consider it an honor you entrusted us to bring hope this holiday season. Many blessings to all—your gift has truly warmed our hearts and made 2020 a bit brighter for many here in South Dakota.
When you give to Native Hope, you bring much needed resources to Indian Country.