What is needed? Simply stated, security. Security comes in many forms: food, cleaning supplies, diapers, masks. Security means that needs are met. That is what we have been working on this month, with the help of donors, grocers, community members, program directors, and tribal leaders. Our efforts have helped to address the insecurities residents of local reservations deal with—not only in the face of COVID-19, but every day.
Food insecurity is an ongoing issue for Native communities, so offering a bit of relief on this front has been extremely important to us. We have delivered over 500 food bundles this month. Every Monday orders for hamburger and other groceries are placed with local businesses. When our orders arrive on Friday, we package them and head out for delivery. Even though reservations have limited travel into their lands, Native Hope is considered essential and can still provide aide.
We are grateful to have formed partnerships through our work. Toni and Melissa, a mother and daughter team, help distribute items to their local community of Lower Brule. Our volunteer Peter, newly-elected tribal chairman of the Crow Creek Indian Reservation, delivers to those in Fort Thompson and Big Bend. Tamra, a helpful volunteer and her family members, distribute to those living on the Crow Creek District in the Crow Creek Indian Reservation. And Tiny, Native Hope Fellow, distributes to children and elders who need assistance during the lockdown on their reservation, the Oglala Lakota Indian Reservation (Pine Ridge).
Helping to give comfort
A lot of other deliveries arriving on the reservations are dispersed on a first come, first served basis–our dedicated Native Hope volunteers work to reach those who are unable to pick up food or supplies themselves due to lack of transportation or health related issues. “It makes me feel good,” explains Toni, “just knowing that the children will have something to eat.” Toni volunteers to deliver these meal kits and enjoys hearing from the recipients the kind words of appreciation. “Thank you to you and to Native Hope. This really helps.”
Some of the assistance we have provided this month comes directly at the hands of supporters like Dawn from Illinois and Toni of Colorado, who have each sent masks for us to deliver to members from Lower Brule and Crow Creek reservations. Together, the women sent 75 masks of all sizes, and both plan to send more. Additionally, our teammate Kim made 20 masks that we sent to Tiny in Pine Ridge. We have had ongoing requests for masks for elders, children, and parents, so their gift is so wonderful—Wopila Tanka!Besides meals and masks, Jiibay Dakotah sent us snack foods and hygiene products. Another donor sent funds for the same, so their efforts were combined to help the Boys and Girls Club of Lower Brule and the elders of both communities. Clothes have been distributed to the Family Enrichment Program of Crow Creek and the Lower Brule Sioux Tribal Drug Court. Finally, South Dakota State University Extension Program donated numerous seeds for us to deliver as well. Hopefully, the community gardens of each tribe will find them helpful as they begin planting in the next couple of weeks.
All in all, we have travelled over 900 miles this month to bring some security and hope to our friends and relatives on the reservations in South Dakota. It has been fulfilling to hear that your gifts are making a difference in the everyday lives of those who in need.
Throughout this pandemic, Native Hope continues to support those in need. We understand the spirit of giving and power of storytelling. If you are able and can contribute to our Back to
Basics outreach, chip in today.