This holiday season we are working once again to ensure that “Santa” doesn’t pass hundreds of Native American children and families by this Christmas by providing funding for 2,400 toys to be distributed throughout Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, as well as holiday grant funding to our partners in Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah and on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
The Running Strong Santa is everywhere this year!
- On Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, “Santa” will drop off toys at both our Tipi Waste distribution center, for subsequent pick up by representatives from the 9 districts of the reservation to be delivered, by sleigh, truck, or by foot, to children throughout the reservation.
- From our Oyate Ta Kola Ku Community Center in Pine Ridge, hundreds of toys are being purchased with grant funding, with some of Santa’s ‘elves’ shopping on Black Friday for the best deals, to distribute to children coming to the Community Center holiday party, as well as being driven to remote families by our van Mobile Market ‘turned’ Mobile “Santa’s Sleigh” (complete with antlers on the roof and a cheery red nose on the dash).
- The Brushy Cherokee Action Association in Sallisaw, Oklahoma is hosting a “Community Christmas with Santa” featuring the reading of the 1917 “An Indian Christmas (A Legend of the Camp by the Spring)” from “Tales and Trails of Wakarusa” by A.M. Harvey. The Brushy community is poverty-stricken community, and many families cannot provide for toys during the holiday. “The event will include a gathering of Brushy community families,” says chairman Gary Bolin. “Each year we honor our teachers for all they do for the youth in our community. Teachers, students, and their families will gather with members of the community as they enjoy a warm, healthy meal and fellowship. The feast is a Native American tradition that allows participants to meet and greet and share stories with other community members.
- In Sioux City, Iowa, our longtime partner, Indian Youth of American and director Patricia Gordon, are busy planning to host its 42nd Annual Christmas party for 350 Native American children and family members from the Winnebago Tribe, Omaha Nation, Ponca Tribe, Santee, and Yankton Sioux Tribes as well as members from 29 other tribes that reside in the area. “We want to brighten the lives of Indian children and families during the holiday season,” says Patricia. “We want to make sure Indian children and families are not forgotten during the Christmas season.” The event includes a private showing of the new Disney movie, “Strange World,” at a local theater, where the children will receive goodie bags, and a gift with family gift packs for their parents. The holidays are tough for families struggling without sufficient income to cover their basic needs, let alone the extra pressure and expense of buying gifts for their children.
- In Chadron, Nebraska, and on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, our longtime partner, Sacred Healing Circle and executive director Yvette Running Horse Collin, is planning on using grant funding from Running Strong for American Indian Youth® to provide holiday care/gifts to Lakota elders on the reservation to help aid them in their traditional work in the community, as well as a holiday meal and gifts for Lakota children and their families in Chadron. “We want to honor the traditional responsibilities of elder Lakota leaders toward their community members by providing them with stipends and gifts they would like to pass forward for the families in need within their communities,” said Yvette in her request for grant funding this year. “The elders who we wish to ensure have support this holiday season are ones who carry a heavy community load, as is their responsibility. Although the weather will likely be very cold and difficult to navigate this time of year in South Dakota, these elders still pay their respects to their communities during this time.”
- And in Spanish Fork, Utah, Eileen Quintana, program manager for the Nebo School District’s Title VI Indian Education program, is planning to provide a turkey or ham for 100 Native American families with grant funding from Running Strong. Eileen will use the opportunity to “check on the welfare of our families by seeing them at our Christmas gathering,” noting that sadly some have lost relatives to COVID-19. “Utah winters are cold and so having an Indian Education FAMILY that takes care of them is important!” Many of the Title VI families struggle financially, but the program serves the community by educating their children and offering community resources, including during the holidays.
Wopila (Lakota, for “Thank You”), and “AHEHEE!!” (Navajo, for “Thank You!”) for spreading Christmas cheer.