A severe early winter snowstorm in South Dakota has spurred local residents to collect necessary items for Native Americans living on the hard-hit Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations in the southern part of the state.
The Tulalip Multi-Media Youth Club (TMMYC), in association with the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club and other tribal departments, has formed a Giving Circle to collect much-needed donations of clothing, blankets, shoes, boots and cash by December 16.
Pine Ridge is the eighth largest reservation in the United States, with approximately 28,000 residents, and it has the poorest population. Unemployment on the reservation is estimated to be 80 percent, and 49 percent of its residents live below the federal poverty level. Many of the families have no electricity, telephones, running water or sewer service, and most use only wood stoves to heat their homes.
The November 5 blizzard knocked out electricity and stranded many in their homes with no heat, food or water for weeks.
Robin Carneen of the TMMYC and host of First People's Radio heard of the devastation from media contacts in the South Dakota area and invited local tribal organizations to pitch in.
"We are looking for unsoiled, preferably new items of clothing like warm jackets, sweaters, thermals, new blankets, shoes for winter weather, warm hats, gloves, scarves and boots," said Carneen. "Other necessities include sleeping bags, matches, lighters, charcoal briquettes, flashlights with batteries, NOAA weather radios, kerosene lanterns, batteries of all types, candles, disposable diapers in sizes 3 and up, baby formula, hygiene items, toilet paper."
Volunteers are also in need of empty boxes that can be sealed closed or with lids that can be taped closed, packing tape and plastic garbage bags.
Arranging shipment of the items is another challenge, said Carneen. The groups have put out a "call for truckers" headed to South Dakota who may be willing to donate some space to the cause.
Linda Tolbert, a member of the Tulalip Lions Club, added, "We need community involvement to help with this crisis."
Donations for the South Dakota blizzard victims can be dropped off at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club during regular hours until December 16. Phone (360) 716-3400 for hours and directions.
Owner Sean Skiles with two of the Pioneer Market Staff (Ali Carter; Sean Skiles; and Jamie Reinstra) from La Conner WA donated new children's T-shirts, adult sweatshirts and some food items. They were quick to donate a box of these items.
TYMMC- TBGC member Dustin Chrisman (youth volunteer) inventories & sorts out incoming donations at the TBGC. Dustin also helped wash & dry clothes that needed it- and we are asking for folks to bring in CLEAN ones from now on. To save in the work ahead as more donations come in.
TYMMC- TBGC member Dustin Chrisman (youth volunteer-13 yrs old); Cheryl Carlson (youth volunteer-12 yrs old); Angelica Trinidad (youth volunteer-11yrs old) inventories & sorts out incoming donations at the TBGC.
Raelene Todd TBGC youth
The biggest challenge is getting all the donations back there. So we have a "Call to Truckers". If they can donate space on their rigs & can make a drop to one or both Reservations, they should get in touch with us as soon as possible. We would like to send everything off no later than Dec 17th, so it gets there by Christmas.