5,000 Native schoolchildren on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Cheyenne River Reservation, and throughout Indian Country are prepared for the school year thanks to the supporters of our “StudyStrong” backpack and school supplies program.
Over the course of the summer, dozens of our partners, such as the Cheyenne River Youth Project in South Dakota, the Brushy Cherokee Action Association in Oklahoma and the Kailapa Community Association in Hawaii were able to distribute backpacks and school supplies to families most in need in their communities.
On Cheyenne River, little 6-year-old Caylor is starting first grade with pencils, paper, crayons and more on her very first ever day of school. “Caylor was so excited to be picking out her own supplies,” reported CRYP executive director Julie Garreau. “She instantly put her backpack on and then went shopping for other items.”
Then there was the set of young twins who came to CRYP’s distribution event “intent on having matching backpacks…We were able to assist them.”
And Karen, the mother of six boys, told us “I don’t know what I would do without your support. I could not get the supplies on my own.”
At the BCAA, Marie Bolin reported that at their back-to-school distribution event “the lines were all the way to the road and so many families attended the give-away.
“There were so many happy children that were amazed by all the new things that they were able to pick out themselves.
“Families were relieved that someone was able to help them with back to school expenses,” said Marie. “We were honored to have this event and so many people were thankful and spoke about Running Strong and how much they have helped the community.”
In Hawaii, children and families have been going through much stress this summer with the lava flow and some fearful that their house may be destroyed, or what to do when it happens.
“We had a child, Nalu, that came to our community because their house got overtook with lava,” reported Amoo Kainoa of the KCA in Hawi.
“He is with family members and was so happy that he had something new to call his own,” she said. “We have a few families that have migrated to our town that have lost everything.
“All of our homestead Hawaiian families struggle to make ends meet,” she continued. “They all work two to three jobs just to make ends meet.
“All who came through said ‘Mahalo (thank you), this is the first time we have had something like this in our community, this helps a lot.’
Amoo said she told these families to “look at that poster” for Running Strong for American Indian Youth®, saying “that’s how we got the funding to do this.
“They were all so grateful.”