With Chanukah starting this week, and Christmas just a little more than two weeks away, holiday shopping is in full swing across the country. Not only is now the time to seek the perfect gift for loved ones near and far, it’s the perfect time to support a nonprofit organization through alternative forms of giving.

The Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, is encouraging this season’s holiday shoppers to consider making purchases from nonprofits that operate social enterprises like CRYP’s own Keya Gift Shop. In the youth project’s case, according to Executive Director Julie Garreau, the simple act of finding a perfect gift has a cascading series of positive effects.

“When you purchase a piece of handmade jewelry or artwork, you are providing critical revenue for our youth programs and family services,” she explained. “You’re also supporting our local Lakota artists and craftspeople, you’re contributing to real-world, hands-on training for our teen interns, and you’re becoming an ambassador by sharing a little piece of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation beyond its borders.”

Through its e-store at lakotayouth.org/shop, shoppers can purchase artwork, jewelry, dreamcatchers, keepsake boxes, mugs and water bottles, apparel, books, and more — and through the online system, they will be able to ship anywhere in the country. International shoppers can contact CRYP directly to arrange purchases and shipping.

Until now, CRYP’s locally grown and processed food items were only available in-store. For this holiday season, however, the youth project is inviting supporters to contact the office at (605) 964-8200 to purchase and arrange shipping for its homemade tomato and zucchini salsas, dill pickles, beets, pickled peppers, jalapeño peppers, chokecherry syrup, and a wide variety of jams and jellies.

“We also have traditional Lakota foods such as dried chokecherry patties, was’tunkala (dried corn), and wasna,” Garreau said.

All food items were grown in CRYP’s 3-acre Winyan Toka Win Owózu (Leading Lady Garden), which produced a jaw-dropping 10,000 pounds of produce during 2020. The garden lies at the heart of CRYP’s Native Food Sovereignty initiative, and Garreau said food purchases from the Keya Gift Shop also directly support this important effort in the heart of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

“Our garden connects us and our community to our traditional Lakota values, spiritual principles, and life ways,” Garreau said. “It connects us to Mother Earth. And as we fight Covid-19 here in our homelands, it’s also a powerful symbol of resilience, recovery, and perhaps most of all, hope.”

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, Twitter and Instagram.

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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