Before Running Strong for American Indian Youth switches gears to our spring schedule of programs, we will take one more account of the final reports of our winter programs from November to February. Though some areas of the country are already seeing signs of warmer weather and new growth, in many places there will still be several months to go before winter relents. Kelly Miller, distribution director of Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul Department of Indian Work, spoke with us about the impact Running Strong’s cold weather clothes “drop-in” distribution had on her community.

“When youth came in to choose their own boots, their face would light up at the different, colorful options. The fleece lined coats were a huge hit! During distribution, people were excited about the fleece lining and the extra warmth it provides.” Kelly and her team were able to distribute over 800 winter coats, hats, gloves, scarves, and boots to local families during December 2019 and into February 2020.

Samantha Yellow Fat, a distribution leader at Smee School District in Wakpala, SD, and 2015 Dreamstarter, said that many of their early elementary students did not have winter gear at the time of distribution in November and December – but thanks to Running Strong and our supporters, every student was able to receive a donation.

winter wrap up

“Our home base program director was very thankful for the donation, because many of the children and families they serve cannot afford winter gear.” Samantha said.

Catawba Cultural Preservation Project in Rock Hill, SC, wrote to us about the positive effects of clean, new clothing beyond just safety and warmth.

“I remember on the day we gave out coats in the main room of our Culture Center that one child was ‘shocked’ we had such a nice coat and winter kit for her and it was free,” recalled Wenonah Haire, Cultural Center Executive Director. “She was also so happy to be able to pick out the color she wanted. I remember her putting the coat on and the look on her face was one of being dressed as a queen!” Wenonah continued. “Many of the reservation and camp children that received the items were in dire need of not only a good winter coat but a coat that didn’t make them look like they were given ‘left-overs’.”

While spring may not be on the horizon yet for many of our program communities, Running Strong is still there to help our residents and youth outlast the frigidness with warmth, safety, and awareness.

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