On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on the Great Plains of South Dakota, winter isn’t just on the way, it’s arrived. It’s mid-November and low temperatures (not including the wind chill factor) on the reservation are already dipping below freezing and into the 20s for days on end.
For struggling Native American families, parents have no choice but to dress their children in hand-me-downs from sibling to sibling to sibling until there is practically nothing left. Coats have well worn out their usefulness and shoes are falling apart and frequently not even close to the right size.
This year, we are once again conducting “Operation Snowsuit” to outfit thousands of children on Pine Ridge and several other locations throughout Indian Country with heavy winter coats, hats, scarves, gloves, and for the first time last year, sturdy boots – literally keeping them warm and dry from head to toe.
And the reason why is simple:
49% of residents in Pine Ridge Indian Reservation live below the poverty level – 61% of these are children under 18.
During January, the average low temperature on Pie Ridge is 10 degrees, and with the wind chill it can feel like 30 below.
This year, our goal is to outfit 10,000 American Indian children.
Operation Snowsuit: It’s about the numbers - 3000 Pairs of Boots + 5,000 Warm Coats +9,000 Hats, Gloves and Scarves = 10,000 Warm American Indian Youth.
Operation Snowsuit: It’s about the 10,000 kids.
Keep up with the campaign on twitter with the hashtag #OperationSnowsuit !