CRYP has announced that it will launch its Heat Assistance Program for the 2015 winter season on Monday, February 2. Through this program, local families who are members of CRYP’s Family Services may request matching grants up to $100 to help cover the cost of propane or alternative fuels when they most need it.

The 26-year-old, not-for-profit youth organization processes community members’ requests and works with local providers to ensure that each family receives assistance as soon as possible. During the bitterly cold 2014 winter season, the Heat Assistance Program’s matching funds provided much-needed aid to 1,318 community members, 795 children among them, on South Dakota’s remote, 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

“The matching funds helped 217 families with their propane and electric bills, or with their firewood purchases,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We wouldn’t be able to provide this important service without the support of Running Strong for American Indian Youth, for which we’re deeply grateful.

“For too many families here, matching grants can mean the difference between staying warm and freezing,” she continued. “South Dakota winters, with their plunging temperatures and prairie blizzards, can be very dangerous.”

Last season, CRYP distributed the full $20,000 from the Running Strong grant. Garreau said the organization hopes to support a similar number of families this year. To participate in the program, families must join Family Services; a single $30 annual membership fee covers all family members for the entire year. Then, to receive matching funds, the family must put forth between $25 to $100, which will be matched by the grant.

“All a family member needs to do is come down to our offices at the Cokata Wiconi teen center on East Lincoln Street in Eagle Butte and sign up for Family Services,” Garreau said. “If you do it before the end of this month, you’ll be ready to start receiving your heat-match funds as soon as the program starts on February 2.”

All proceeds support program infrastructure so Family Services can remain a reliable community resource for years to come. Member benefits include access to several annual distributions — school supplies, winter clothing, shoes, and the long-running Christmas Toy Drive — as well as much-needed household supplies, baby items, and the annual Heat Assistance Program.

“Once again, we’re profoundly grateful to Running Strong for the grant that allows us to meet such a critical need in our community,” Garreau said. “With their support, we’re better able to support our children and their families, and we’re very much looking forward to continuing our program this winter!”

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.