To the supporters of Running Strong for American Indian Youth®,

My name is Dave Lone Elk and I grew up in the Running Strong family beginning as a toddler watching my father, Ken, do so much for so many of our fellow Oglala Lakota residents here on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwest South Dakota.

My father, although formally “retired” from the position as field coordinator which I have now assumed following in his footsteps, taught me well over the many years he held the job out here at our warehouse Tipi Waste Un Zanipi (Wellness Through a Good Home).

This week marked 22 years since we’ve been around, and the lives of thousands of families have been made a little brighter.

Summer is winding down, especially out here on the Great Plains, and soon it will be the chilly days of ptanyetu (autumn in Lakota) followed by the frigid days of waniyetu (winter) – which despite the harsh conditions is my favorite time of the year. With your assistance, we plan to distribute:

  • 800 Backpacks
  • Over 1,000 Snow boots
  • Over 1,300 Winter Coats
  • 1,000 Blankets
  • 900 Running Shoes
  • 600 Dental Kits

The holiday season is especially joyful as thanks to the supporters of Running Strong I get to play “Santa” –  distributing frozen food boxes in November, December and January (when we do not have to worry about them thawing in our warehouse) and nearly 14,000 pounds of frozen turkey (total value nearly $250,000).

While it brings joy to my heart making sure the people most in need on Pine Ridge will have a Happy Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, what is most heartwarming is our Toys for Tribes program.

The day before the toy distribution a week or two before Christmas day, my family and I spend hours working late into the night dividing up a semi-tractor trailer load of toys into piles based on ages and sex of the child so that when their parents arrive the next day with the list of their children we can quickly select appropriate gifts for their children.

The small staff and I from the Tipi Waste field office, want to take this time to thank each of you for your kindness to our many Lakota families who are very grateful for all the assistance we have provided to them.

I know each of the families have expressed their appreciation to us, and we are passing this “thank you” back to each of you.

Thank you again!

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