Basic Needs

Running Strong helps American Indians meet their basic needs by providing essential items like new coats, hygiene kits, blankets and shoes.

Providing Basic Needs Many American Indian families are unable to meet their basic needs due to poverty and remote living conditions. Running Strong tries to address this issue by providing the necessities to those who are struggling.  We send new coats, hats, gloves, and shoes to Indian families who are unable to afford them.  We also distribute hygiene kits, blankets, bedding and other household staples. Helping to improve American Indian people’s daily lives is critical, and is the first step in bringing about bigger change. Learn more about our basic needs programs here.

Spotlighted Programs


Keshena, Wisconsin


Menominee Indian Tribe

New Coats

Running Strong’s coat donation program provides much needed coats and winter gear to Native communities around the country.  One of the sites that has received coats as well as hats, scarves and gloves, is the Menominee Indian School District on the Menominee Indian Reservation.  MISD consists of four public schools. These four schools serve the entire Menominee Indian Reservation. Unfortunately, funding for the school district is limited and the faculty cannot support the needs of their students on their own.

Unemployment and poverty on the reservation is higher than any other county in Wisconsin.  Because of difficult family situations, many children do not live with their parents and have to stay with relatives or friends.  They often do not have the clothing that they need to get through the harsh winter months.  Further, more than 120 students are homeless and have no means to buy winter gear.  Without our coat donation program, these children would be left to wear sports jerseys or sweatshirts in below zero temperatures.   We are happy to have a partnership with MISD, where our coat donations are truly needed and valued.


Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Indian Reservations



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.”


Communities around the country



Backpack Donaton

Each fall, Running Strong donates backpacks filled with school supplies to American Indian youth–from young students to high schoolers.

Many American Indian families on fixed incomes and struggling from high unemployment rates cannot afford new school supplies for their children, so kids enter the new school year with hand-me-down backpacks and lacking the supplies they need to succeed. With the help of Running Strong supporters, thousands of American Indian children are able to start off the new school year with confidence and the tools they need to do well in school.

Each brand new backpack includes essential supplies like: scissors, a ruler, pencils, pencil sharpeners, glue, notebooks, pens and much more!

And because Running Strong buys in bulk, just $16.29 provides a Jr. High or High School backpack and supplies, and $9.22 will buy an elementary school backpack and supplies!

“The children showed a renewed sense of confidence when they received the bags. It was especially excited to see the pre-schoolers get excited about their first school backpack.” –A Program Partner Project Administrator