Published August 17, 2016
EAGLE BUTTE, SOUTH DAKOTA — The Cheyenne River Youth Project® announced today that more than 300 children have attended its annual school supplies distribution at the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center this month. The nonprofit youth organization is expecting to serve many more children before the first day of school.
Those who were unable to attend the official distribution on August 8, who didn’t have the opportunity to join Family Services in time or who are new to the community still may participate. CRYP has plenty of school supplies in stock so it can distribute them throughout the month of August.
“Each year, we provide much-needed school supplies to hundreds of children,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We were thrilled that so many families were able to attend our actual distribution day on August 8, and we look forward to welcoming many more children who still need school supplies prior to the start of the new school year.”
Here on South Dakota’s remote, 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Lakota reservation, families depend on CRYP’s school supplies distribution. Most don’t have room in their budgets to purchase the items their children need to be successful—and to experience the same excitement and anticipation for the first day of school that children across the country share.
“Being a single parent of two girls, it can be a struggle,” commented one community member who attended the distribution last week. “I greatly appreciate (this).”
“I really appreciate all that was given to me and my family,” said Jahida Two Crow, and fellow parent Mary Crown echoed the sentiment.
“I am thankful for the school supplies,” she said, “and for the Family Services program.”
CRYP created its Family Services Program in 2002 to manage the increasing amounts of donated supplies that the youth project provides to local families year-round. To participate in the program, all a local family needs to do is pay a $30 annual membership fee. The one-time payment covers all family members for the year.
“For just $30, a Cheyenne River family can participate in all of our Family Services distributions,” Garreau explained. “Not only does that include school supplies, it incorporates shoes and winter clothing drives and our massive, long-running Christmas Toy Drive.”
Family Services members also can pick up needed household supplies and baby items on a regular basis, and they can participate in CRYP’s annual heat assistance program during the cold winter and early spring months. According to Garreau, Family Services is a core program for the youth project, which is dedicated to providing Cheyenne River’s children with access to a healthy, secure and more vibrant future.
“Family Services makes life just a little bit less of a struggle for families, which in turn makes life a bit easier for our children,” Garreau said. “Kids here have to grow up way too fast, and when we can help meet their families’ needs, we give them more space to just be children. They rely on us to be there, to support them in every way we can.”
To operate its Family Services Program, CRYP relies on a variety of important contributors, from organizational partners to private individuals. One critical supporter is Alexandria, Virginia-based Running Strong for American Indian Youth, which provided the majority of the school supplies for this year’s distribution.
“We’re deeply grateful to Running Strong, and to the many individuals across the country who also sent in-kind and financial contributions to support this year’s school supplies distribution,” Garreau said. “Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to provide school supplies to hundreds of children here on the Cheyenne River reservation. Thanks to all of you, our kids will be able to start the year off right.”
To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, call (605) 964-8200 or visit www.lakotayouth.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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