Cheyenne River Youth Project

300 “Dear Santa” Letters Remain to be Adopted!

Christmas is a little more than two weeks away, which means CRYP staff and volunteers are in the home stretch for the 2014 Christmas Toy Drive. It’s not too late to help: The 26-year-old, not-for-profit youth organization is reporting that approximately 300 “Dear Santa” letters remain to be adopted so it can meet its goal of making Christmas wishes come true for 1,500 children across South Dakota’s remote Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

“Those who are interested in being part of this year’s Christmas Toy Drive simply need to contact us to get their ‘Dear Santa’ letters,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “Or, if they would prefer to contribute funds, they can donate via our website or Crowdrise campaign. Then we’ll do the shopping on our end.”

The countdown to Christmas is in high gear at CRYP’s Cokata Wiconi teen center, which the staff has transformed into a 24-7 Santa’s Workshop. Today, staff members and volunteers are eagerly anticipating the arrival of Rudolph I, a large truck bearing gifts collected by the St. Louis Chapter of CRYP in St. Louis. Then, this Thursday, Rudolph II will depart Boulder, Colorado, after collecting gifts at Fairview High School and the University of Colorado in Boulder, Fredericks Peebles & Morgan in Louisville, and the American Indian College Fund in Denver.

Finally, a few days before Christmas, Rudolph III will arrive from Running Strong for American Indian Youth in Alexandria, Virginia. Additional toys also will be arriving from Rapid City’s Noon Rotary Club and the Rapid City Woodworkers Association, a chapter of the South Dakota Woodworkers Guild.

Preparing thousands of gifts for Cheyenne River’s children, each of whom will receive two to three gifts from his or her “Dear Santa” letter plus much-needed winter clothes and shoes, then becomes an around-the-clock endeavor. Volunteers who are arriving from around the country and even overseas will join staff members in sorting, wrapping, and organizing the gifts.

Large boxes overflowing with beautifully wrapped presents will line Cokata Wiconi’s public spaces, classrooms, and hallways, destined for hundreds of families in 20 reservation communities. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, some families will come to Cokata Wiconi to pick up their gifts and visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, while others will be thrilled to welcome Santa and the elves to their homes.

“This means so much to our community,” Garreau said. “Everyone really pulls together to make sure Santa Claus arrives on Cheyenne River on time!”

In fact, on Sunday, December 21, CRYP will host a community wrapping party at Cokata Wiconi so volunteers from the local area can take part in what has become a truly massive grassroots movement.

“We’ve been conducting our Christmas Toy Drive for the better part of the last two decades, and we’re on our second generation of children,” Garreau reflected. “We’ve forged bonds with friends and supporters all around the world, many of whom make the trip to volunteer with us over the holidays. It really has become a worldwide movement to bring joy, hope, and more than a little magic to our children at Christmastime.”

If you would like to support CRYP’s Christmas Toy Drive this holiday season, please click here for detailed information. Every contribution, no matter the size, makes a difference in the lives of Cheyenne River’s children, and their families.

The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.

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