Thanks to the continuing generosity of the supporters of Running Strong for American Indian Youth even during these times of the coronavirus pandemic which has closed reservations throughout Indian Country, we are thankful to still be able to carry out our mission.
Just this week alone, we are pleased to report that an emergency shipment of 30,600 pounds of frozen food was received at the Eagle Butte Food Pantry on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Each of the 1,700 20-pound boxes contains items such as sliced ham, chicken nuggets, pork, mixed vegetables, and grains — enough to feed a family of four two meals a day for two weeks.
“Families on Cheyenne River face significant challenges with food insecurity in normal times, and these sure aren’t normal times,” said Billie Rose Garreaux, Running Strong’s Food Distribution coordinator on Cheyenne River. “Running Strong is proud to do our part to help families facing the coronavirus crisis.”
On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, we were able to ship a truckload of personal hygiene items containing 600 gallons of hand sanitizer, thousands of bars of soap, hundreds of dental kits and thousands of diapers for growing families with infants and toddlers.
As Running Strong field coordinator Dave Lone Elk told us recently, “This are scary around here…toilet paper, hand sanitizer, soap and cleaning products are a scarcity in Rapid City. Groceries are hard to come by too.”
Also on Cheyenne River, we were delighted to hear from 2016 Dreamstarter Annie Chasing Hawk who reported that after volunteering for tribe at checkpoints following the outbreak, she ended up getting hired as a deputy.
Annie is a talented artist who pursed her dream of selling her artwork across the country, but now serving as crew leader working 12-hour night shifts, “so I kinda put my art on the back burner until we are all cleared.
“Doing what I can to help protect our people. Praying for health and strength..we are lucky so far to nat have any positive cases.”
And throughout Indian Country, our Dreamstarter Teachers are continuing to educate their students remotely despite challenges, and even ensuring they receive food even though schools are closed.
Pamela Fleury, a Dreamstarter Teacher at Chamberlain Elementary in South Dakota was informed her school would be closed until May 1. “We are currently delivering sack lunches which include breakfast and lunch Monday to Fridays. Thankfully, this will continue.”
Shannon Britton of Round Valley USD in California told us her school is still providing breakfast and lunch to all students each day of the week. “I call my second grade students weekly to talk to them and have them read to me over the phone just to keep in touch with them,” she said. “I am trying to provide a little bit of normalcy in these unknown and unsettling times.”