Winter is coming soon, but on Indian reservations such as Pine Ridge in South Dakota and throughout Indian Country in states such as Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Utah it’s already arrived.
For example, in the small North Dakota town of Mandan, where our partner, Sacred Pipe Resource Center, distributes winter coats, snow boots and accessories to children of the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation provided thanks to the supporters Running Strong for American Indian Youth®, the low temperature on November 12 was 17 degrees.
Following last year’s winter coat distribution, Sacred Pipe executive director Cheryl Kary reported that the mother of four young children was thrilled to receive brand new winter wear and snow boots for all of them.
“She said she would not had been able to afford that many pairs of boots on her own because it would have been a choice of snow boots or food,” said Cheryl.
For too many Native American parents that is a hard choice they must make every winter, and that’s why it’s so important for us to be able to provide winter coats, snow boots and accessories to our partners serving the neediest families in their communities.
This year, our goal is to ship 4,500 coats, 4,500 pairs of gloves and more than 5,500 pairs of winter snow boots beginning no later that December 1, and that’s why we are again focusing all our Giving Tuesday efforts on doing just that.
In Fort Totten, North Dakota, last year our partner, Spirit Lake Tribal Health, distributed 240 child and adult size winter coats, 250 pairs of toddler, child and adult size winter boots, and 200 sets of winter accessories.
Spirit Lake executive assistant DeShawn Lawrence Ramirez reported “With the bitter cold approaching, it was such a relief knowing children, teens, and adults were able to keep warm this winter. The new winter gear donated to families in our community has helped them keep warm during the cold winter season.
“Seeing the relief in the parents’ eyes as they were gathering their children’s winter gear was such a heartwarming sight to see. They knew their kids will be warm getting on the bus to school in the morning or even playing in the snow at home.”
This year, Spirit Lake office manager Lindsey Ramirez is requesting 400 child and adult size coats, 400 pairs of toddler, child and adult size pairs of snow boots and 400 pairs of gloves.
“Running Strong is the only nonprofit organization that supports Tribal Health,” says Lindsey, adding that the winter coats, boots and accessories are desperately needed by the families they serve due to the state’s “extremely cold temperatures and most of the winter we have snow on the ground.
“Our children need to stay warm for these hard winters we have in North Dakota.”
And in Billings, Montana former Running Strong Dreamstarter JoRee LaFrance with our partner the Bridge Foundation reported following last year’s distribution of 600 child and adult size coats, 900 pairs of toddler, child and adult size snow boots and 300 sets of winter accessories that “Everyone was extremely grateful to receive winter items! There was a lot of smiling faces!
“It fills my heart to know that I have members in my community who are willing to help give back to our people,” she added. “Every time we have a distribution event people are always so grateful and happy to be receiving an item.”
“I am forever appreciative of Running Strong! I am grateful to be a part of their team and to be supported by them!”