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Seasonal Programs

Running Strong's seasonal programs spread hope and joy throughout Indian Country with holiday parties, toy drives, cultural gatherings and more.

Seasonal Programs

Running Strong helps facilitate a variety of seasonal programs that serve Indian families during the holidays and other special occassions throughout the year.  These programs include Operation Turkey Dinners, which sends turkeys and the fixings to thousands of Indian families during Thanksgiving and Christmas; Toys for Tribes Christmas toy drive, which brings Christmas to children on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota; and the Prom Dress Drive, which allows girls to buy the dress of their dreams for the high school prom dance.  We also assist with the organizing of cultural celebrations and gatherings, such as youth adopting elders and making them special gifts, screenings of family films,cooking of traditional meals, and more.

Learn more about our seasonal programs here.

Spotlighted Programs

  • Emergency Heat Match Program

    Location

    Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota

    Tribe

    Oglala Lakota

    “What about all those kids who don’t get breakfast or supper because they have no electricity? Or they have to go to bed by sundown? How do they do their homework? We can’t forget them.” - Loretta Afraid of Bear

    When severe cold weather hits the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, many families rely on each other to pull together and keep warm. Because they cannot afford the utilities they need, their well being, and especially the well being of children and elders, is put in jeopardy.

    Running Strong's Annual Emergency Heat Match Program gives funds for propane and electricity to families on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. We match the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s contributions to struggling families dollar-for-dollar. Our heating assistance efforts began in 1997, and every year since, we have helped hundreds of Oglala families heat their homes.

  • Summer Youth Feeding Project

    Location

    Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, South Dakota

    Tribe

    Cheyenne River Sioux

                     Summer Youth Feeding

    The Cheyenne River Reservation is located in a county with the highest child poverty rate in the US.

    When local teachers told us that their students return from summer vacations feeling lethargic and having lost a lot of weight from going hungry with no free school lunches and breakfasts, we knew we had to act.

    Thanks to supporters like you, Running Strong is able to provide free school lunches during the summer months when children are out of school.  We offer our Summer Youth Feeding Project five days a week at four community centers on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.  Any hungry child may eat a free lunch that includes milk and fresh fruit as well as a chance to cool off with a popsicle! 

    During the summer, we also provide fun incentives like red-white-blue glow necklaces for the 4th of July, free basketballs to keep kids moving and healthy and a brand-new backpack filled with school supplies so that they can start the school year off right.  This program is the safety net that keeps these children from going hungry over the summer months.   

    Help us give these kids healthy and happy all summer. You can make it happen.

  • Turkey Dinners Time

    Location

    Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Indian Reservations

    Tribe

    Lakota

    Turkey Dinner Time

    Many American Indian families struggle to simply get by, especially during difficult economic times, and a special meal during the holidays is all too often unaffordable.

    To ensure that thousands of Native American families are able to enjoy the bounty of our nation and fellowship with family members and friends during the holiday season, Running Strong for American Indian Youth® delivers frozen turkeys “and all the fixin’s” including stuffing mix, potatoes, vegetables, fruit and a pumpkin pie to American Indian families across the country.

    Through the generosity of Running Strong supporters, American Indian families have been able to have holiday turkey dinners since 1988.

    One young child sums up the feelings of many American Indian children and families who were able to enjoy a delicious, filling holiday meal just as millions of Americans do across the country:

    “Thanks for giving us a nice Thanksgiving turkey. My mom was so happy that I brought home a turkey because we didn’t have the money to buy one.”

  • Toys for Tribes

    Location

    Cheyenne River Indian Reservation

    Tribe

    Cheyenne River Sioux

    Toys for Tribes

    "Thank you so much for the Christmas gifts you provided for my son. Watching him smile and laugh when he opened them was the greatest gift I received as well. Your kindness will not be forgotten." - Cheyenne River parent, the day after Christmas

    Every year, Running Strong works with the Cheyenne River Youth Project® to bring Christmas to children living in one of the poorest counties in the United States-the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation.  Many Cheyenne River Sioux families live in extreme poverty and are geographically isolated on the South Dakota plains. 

    Toys for Tribes invites children at the Cheyenne River Youth Project® to write letters to Santa about what they would like for Christmas.  We then work alongside the Cheyenne River Youth Project® and try to get each child at least one gift from their list.  For many Cheyenne River children, the Toys for Tribes toy drive is their only chance to get a gift for Christmas.

  • Indian Youth of America Summer Youth Camps

    Location

    Prescott, AZ & Black Hills, SD

    Tribe

    All Tribes

    Indian Youth of America Summer Camp

    Since 1999, Running Strong has partnered with Indian Youth of America (IYA) to help support IYA’s youth camp program. IYA runs camps each summer that are created especially for American Indian children.

    IYA’s youth camps, which host over 100 American Indian young people 10-14 each year, nurture pride in American Indian culture and identity, teach confidence-building skills, and offer activities in specialty interest areas such as science, gymnastics, and basketball.

    Indian Youth of American summer camps also provide American Indian youth with positive activities to fill summer downtime that might otherwise be unsupervised and leave them vulnerable to peer pressure, criminal activity, and substance abuse. IYA camps instead provide opportunities that will help American Indian youth experience educational, career, personal, and cultural growth. IYA furthermore makes sure the camps are affordable for American Indian families by fundraising to cover much of the cost for campers.

    “I know when the time comes I’ll be back & become a counselor and I will send my younger sibling to camp so she will follow in my footsteps of being an IYA camper.” – IYA youth camp camper


More Programs View All

  • Schools and Youth Centers

    Running Strong is creating a new generation of Indian leaders who demonstrate healthy lifestyles and confidence in their heritage.

  • Safe Housing

    Running Strong helps American Indian families acquire safe housing in overcrowded and underserved areas.

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