This year, CRYP was able to give school supplies to more than 600 children through its annual School Supplies Drive. The kids and their families received those supplies—as well as books, fleeces, shoes, soap and dental kits—during an official distribution event on Thursday, Aug. 16 in the youth project’s Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) gymnasium.
“Members of our Family Services program live in 20-plus communities across the Cheyenne River reservation, which is the size of Connecticut,” explains Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “These parents, grandparents and other care-givers often cannot travel the distances required for major school shopping, even if they did have enough room in the household budget to do so. This annual program right here in Eagle Butte makes life a little bit easier for them.”
During the distribution, children were able to choose backpacks, protractors, compasses, calculators, pencils, pens, crayons, writing tablets, folders, kid-friendly scissors, erasers, glue sticks, rulers and so much more. There were, Garreau notes, a lot of happy faces during what was essentially a back-to-school shopping day.
“They were so excited about their new backpacks, and getting to choose their favorite colors and styles of pencil cases, folders, notebooks and other items,” she reports. “We saw such joy, and relief, because the kids know they’ll be well-prepared on the first day of school. That’s how it should be for all children, everywhere.”
This year’s annual School Supplies Drive was made possible by contributions from Running Strong for American Indian Youth in Alexandria, Virginia, and many individual donors across the country.
“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,” Garreau says. “We’re grateful to them for joining with us in this initiative. It means so much.”
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. 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 during the cold winter and early spring months.
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 (/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.