On Wednesday, August 2, CRYP hosted its annual School Supplies Drive distribution in the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center’s gymnasium. Now, just days later, the grassroots, nonprofit youth organization has already provided nearly 300 children — from Headstart through high school — with the school supplies they need to start the new school year.
What’s more, additional children are arriving daily to search for their supplies, which means this year’s CRYP School Supplies Drive likely will serve another 150 to 200 children.
“Members of our Family Services program live in 20-plus communities across the Cheyenne River reservation, which is the size of Connecticut,” explained Tammy Granados, CRYP’s youth programs director. “Due to work schedules, the distances involved, and sometimes lack of transportation, some families cannot attend our actual distribution day. So we make sure that all the supplies are available right up until the first day of school for those community members, as well as for families who may have recently moved to the area.”
Much-needed supplies include backpacks, protractors, compasses, calculators, mechanical pencils, writing tablets, fat pencils, fat crayons, folders, pencil cases, notebook paper, kid-friendly scissors, erasers, glue sticks, pencils, pens and rulers. The annual School Supplies Drive is part of CRYP’s Family Services program, which was founded in 2002 to manage the organization’s influx of in-kind donations throughout the year.
“We saw a lot of happy kids last week,” Granados reported. “They were so excited about their new backpacks, and all the notebooks, pencil cases and other items that were just the right color and style. That’s how all kids should feel as they prepare for the first day of school. We also saw a lot of happy parents, grandparents and other care-givers, because school-supplies shopping is a big added stress when there is no extra room in a household budget.”
This year’s School Supplies Drive was made possible through the support of Alexandria, Virginia-based Running Strong for American Indian Youth and numerous individual donors. Thanks to their generosity, CRYP was able to ensure that hundreds of children, and their families, on the Cheyenne River Lakota reservation were able to enjoy the equivalent of that eagerly anticipated back-to-school shopping trip.
“We’re so grateful for the support we received from Running Strong and our friends around the country,” Granados said. “The fact that we send hundreds of kids to school with everything they need — without feeling different or disadvantaged due to their circumstances — is a testament to the great power of working together toward a common purpose.”
To participate in CRYP distributions like the School Supplies Drive, a local family can simply join the Family Services program for a $30 membership fee. That one-time payment covers all members of that family for the entire year, and it includes all the annual distributions, from school supplies and winter clothing to the long-running Christmas Toy Drive. It also includes much-needed household supplies and baby items, as well as a heat-match program and assistance with home improvements.
To stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook (/LakotaYouth), Twitter (@LakotaYouth) and Instagram (@waniyetuwowapi).
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.