As summer draws to a close, kids are going back to school — but school doesn’t look the same. Some children are remote learning, while others are navigating hybrid in-person instruction and a flurry of new health protocols that support a safer public environment.
One thing hasn’t changed: Children must have school supplies so they can start their new school year the right way, whether it’s at home or in the classroom. On South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, however, many Lakota families struggle to find room in the household budget to accommodate this critical need.
As it has for decades, the Cheyenne River Youth Project is ready to help children and families as they head back to school in September. The nonprofit youth organization is asking supporters across the country to join together to provide school supplies and backpacks for more than 500 CRST elementary, middle, and high school students by Friday, Sept. 11.
“We’ve built supplies lists for kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth, sixth through eighth, and ninth through 12th,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “Based on what’s required for those age groups, we’ve determined that $30, $40, $60 and $70 will sponsor a child at each level.
“Once a sponsor has contributed the funds, we’ll handle all the shopping and safe delivery to that child,” she continued. “And if the sponsor wishes to contribute a backpack as well, an additional $30 will allow us to incorporate that.”
To sponsor a child through CRYP’s 2020 School Supplies Drive, simply visit lakotayouth.org/school-supplies-drive. Here, you can make a secure online donation, or contribute an in-kind donation through Amazon, where specific wish lists itemize the school supplies needed for each set of grades.
“Some of our supporters would prefer to do their own shopping, and we’re happy to provide an easy, convenient way to do it,” Garreau said. “We encourage people to use AmazonSmile, where they can designate CRYP as their preferred charity, and Amazon will donate a percentage of the purchase price to us.”
CRYP’s annual School Supplies Drive is a major component of its Family Services program, created in 2002. To participate, all a local family needs to do is pay a $30 annual membership fee, which covers all family members for the year and provides access to school supplies, shoes, winter clothing, household supplies, baby items, and the long-running Wo Otuh’an Wi Toy Drive during the holidays.
Those who have current Family Services memberships will receive invitations for their children to participate in the school supplies distribution. If a family does not have a membership but is interested in obtaining one, simply call the CRYP office at (605) 964-8200. All children must have invitations to receive their new school supplies.
To sponsor a child in CRYP’s 2020 School Supplies Drive, or to access the youth project’s Amazon wish list for in-kind donations, please visit lakotayouth.org/school-supplies-drive. Supporters also may send checks and in-kind donations to the Cheyenne River Youth Project, 702 4th St., P.O. Box 410, Eagle Butte, SD 57625.
Again, all contributions need to be in-house no later than Friday, Sept. 11, so CRYP staff members will have time to organize the supplies and prepare for hundreds of excited children.
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 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 (@lakotayouth and @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.