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Seasonal Programs

Running Strong’s seasonal programs spread hope and joy throughout Indian Country with holiday parties, toy drives, cultural gatherings and more.

Seasonal Programs Running Strong helps facilitate a variety of seasonal programs that serve American Indian families during the holidays and other special occasions throughout the year.  These programs include Operation Turkey Dinners, which sends turkeys and the fixings to thousands of Indian families during Thanksgiving and Christmas; Toys for Tribes Christmas toy drive, which brings Christmas to children on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota; and the Prom Dress Drive, which allows girls to buy the dress of their dreams for the high school prom dance.  We also assist with the organizing of cultural celebrations and gatherings, such as youth adopting elders and making them special gifts, screenings of family films,cooking of traditional meals, and more. Learn more about our seasonal programs here.

Spotlighted Programs

LOCATION

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota

TRIBE

Oglala Lakota

“What about all those kids who don’t get breakfast or supper because they have no electricity? Or they have to go to bed by sundown? How do they do their homework? We can’t forget them.” – Loretta Afraid of Bear

When severe cold weather hits the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, many families rely on each other to pull together and keep warm. Because they cannot afford the utilities they need, their well being, and especially the well being of children and elders, is put in jeopardy.

Running Strong’s Annual Emergency Heat Match Program gives funds for propane and electricity to families on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. We match the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s contributions to struggling families dollar-for-dollar. Our heating assistance efforts began in 1997, and every year since, we have helped hundreds of Oglala families heat their homes.

LOCATION

Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, South Dakota

TRIBE

Cheyenne River Sioux

                 Summer Youth Feeding

The Cheyenne River Reservation is located in a county with the highest child poverty rate in the US.

When local teachers told us that their students return from summer vacations feeling lethargic and having lost a lot of weight from going hungry with no free school lunches and breakfasts, we knew we had to act.

Thanks to supporters like you, Running Strong is able to provide free school lunches during the summer months when children are out of school.  We offer our Summer Youth Feeding Project five days a week at four community centers on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.  Any hungry child may eat a free lunch that includes milk and fresh fruit as well as a chance to cool off with a popsicle! 

During the summer, we also provide fun incentives like red-white-blue glow necklaces for the 4th of July, free basketballs to keep kids moving and healthy and a brand-new backpack filled with school supplies so that they can start the school year off right.  This program is the safety net that keeps these children from going hungry over the summer months.   

Help us give these kids healthy and happy all summer. You can make it happen.

LOCATION

Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Indian Reservations

TRIBE

Lakota

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.”

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LOCATION

Prescott, AZ & Black Hills, SD

TRIBE

All Tribes

Indian Youth of America Summer Camp

Since 1999, Running Strong has partnered with Indian Youth of America (IYA) to help support IYA’s youth camp program. IYA runs camps each summer that are created especially for American Indian children.

IYA’s youth camps, which host over 100 American Indian young people 10-14 each year, nurture pride in American Indian culture and identity, teach confidence-building skills, and offer activities in specialty interest areas such as science, gymnastics, and basketball.

Indian Youth of American summer camps also provide American Indian youth with positive activities to fill summer downtime that might otherwise be unsupervised and leave them vulnerable to peer pressure, criminal activity, and substance abuse. IYA camps instead provide opportunities that will help American Indian youth experience educational, career, personal, and cultural growth. IYA furthermore makes sure the camps are affordable for American Indian families by fundraising to cover much of the cost for campers.

“I know when the time comes I’ll be back & become a counselor and I will send my younger sibling to camp so she will follow in my footsteps of being an IYA camper.” – IYA youth camp camper