As part of its yearlong 25th anniversary celebration, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® will be hosting a special Thanks for Kids Dinner for the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation community on Monday, November 25. Given the tagline “25 Years of Kids, 25 Years of Thanks,” the free public meal and celebration will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the festively decorated Cokata Wiconi teen center’s Morgan Yellowhead Gymnasium.
Youth, their families and all members of the community are invited to join CRYP staff and volunteers for a traditional Thanksgiving-inspired buffet. Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, said the not-for-profit, grassroots youth organization is preparing to serve and seat approximately 250 guests that evening.
“We’re going to set up 25 tables for the special meal, each featuring a year that CRYP has been open,” she explained. We’ll have pictures and milestones as place settings, and we’re going to provide fun table activities for guests of all ages, such as ice-breakers, puzzles and memory games. We’ll have appetizers and table games starting at 5:30 p.m., and we’ll start serving the main meal at 6 p.m.”
Guests will enjoy vegetable platters with dip and fresh pickles prior to the meal, which will include turkey, ham, gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, Brussels sprouts, spaghetti squash casserole and dinner rolls. Pumpkin pie, chocolate zucchini bread and whipped cream will be on hand for dessert.
“We’re proud of our menu, because many of the items come directly from our 2-acre, naturally grown, pesticide-free Winyan Toka Win garden,” Garreau noted. “As our guests enjoy these fresh, healthy, nourishing foods, we want them to know that they were grown right here on Cheyenne River, and that the children helped sow the seeds, nurture the growing plants and harvest the produce through our garden-related youth programming.
“That’s important to us, because not only are we continuing to pursue our vision for real food sovereignty and security, we’re helping our children reconnect to the land and teaching them about healthy foods, diabetes prevention and long-term wellness,” she added.
Also that evening, CRYP will host its awards ceremony for the “25 on 25 Walking Challenge” that started on November 11. The challenge required teens to walk 25 miles in two weeks.
“We’re really looking forward to this special event, which really kicks off the Cheyenne River holiday season as much as it commemorates our 25th anniversary,” Garreau said. “This is an opportunity for our community to gather together and show our thanks for Cheyenne River’s children, who have been attending our centers for a quarter century. We want them to know how much they mean to all of us, and to the future of this community.”
Founded in October 1988, CRYP was first housed in a former bar on Eagle Butte’s Main Street, where it became known affectionately as “The Main.” From the very first day, the organization dedicated itself to providing reservation youth with a safe, nurturing, positive place to learn, create, play and enjoy healthy meals and snacks, giving those most at risk a real opportunity to develop into healthy, well-rounded individuals.
In 1999, the organization opened a new 4,500-square-foot facility on East Lincoln Street; still known as The Main, it caters to children ages 4 to 12. Then, in 2006, CRYP opened the doors to its 26,000-square-foot Cokata Wiconi teen center, which serves youth ages 13 to 19. The youth project also incorporates the 2-acre, naturally grown, pesticide-free Winyan Toka Win garden (1999); and the reservation-wide Family Services program (2002), which provides much-needed household supplies, heat-matching and home-improvement assistance, as well as popular distributions such as the long-running Christmas Toy Drive.
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, LinkedIn and Twitter.