December 12, 2018
December 12, 2018 was a busy day for Running Strong for American Indian Youth® Field Coordinator Dave Lone Elk and his father, Ken, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Already that week, Dave had unloaded a semi-tractor trailer full of toys for Christmas for hundreds of Pine Ridge kids at the Running Strong field office, Tipi Waste Un Zanipi, through our “Toys for Tribes” program, along with boxes and boxes of pairs of boots and hundreds of heavy warm blankets.
In addition, the warehouse was filled with boxes of heavy winter coats in all sizes and colors that along with everything else would be distributed that week.
Dave was up bright and early on the cold, typical-for-December Wednesday morning preparing for the arrival of two semi-tractor trailer trucks, one filled with frozen turkeys, the other boxes of frozen food containing whole chickens, chicken nuggets and strips, vegetables, pies and more.
Not long after that representatives from the various districts began arriving after Dave had called them all to let them know the food trucks were arriving, and the toys, coats, boots and blankets were all there ready for pick up.
First was a representative from the Oglala District, then the Pine Ridge District, and soon the Tipi Waste parking lot was full of pickup trucks pulling flatbed trailers.
The boxes of toys, which had been sorted by Dave the night before and put on pallets so that each district would receive an equal amount of toys for all ages of boys and girls, were loaded in the back of the pickup trucks.
Next came the turkeys – four 15 pounders to a box – which were stacked on the flatbed trailers. Although the boxes were many and heavy, the loading and stacking was done quickly by the many hands which helped each other from all the districts making for light work.
As they were all working together, the second semi-tractor trailer pulled up which Dave was quickly able to offload using a forklift, and before the truck had even left the parking lot he was loading the full pallets of food boxes still tightly wrapped in plastic wrap directly onto the trailers.
Among those arriving to collect the food and items to take back to their neighbors in the districts was Jerome High Horse and his wife, Theresa, both long-time Running Strong volunteers who had traveled 75 miles one-way from the Wanblee District.
For them, it was no chore but an opportunity for them to help out those in need in their community.
“We love doing it,” said Jerome, who with his wife had brought a big, bright green handmade sign saying “Thank You to Running Strong for helping us with goods, food, toys, clothing. We feel blessed to have someone who cares.”
Throughout the hectic day, Dave oversaw the distribution to the district representatives ensuring that the got the proper amount of boxes of turkeys and food, along with the correct numbers of boxes of toys, coats, boots and blankets.
But before any of them could leave with the items, he made sure that they completed the required documentation, and understood that they MUST have each recipient sign their names as they picked up their items back in their district.
By mid-afternoon, all of the district representatives have come, loaded up and gone, but the day was still young for Dave as then he, with the help of many of his family members who had volunteered, began the task of preparing for his own distribution the next day.