The Cheyenne River Youth Project announced today that approximately 350 children’s Wish Lists remain to be adopted in this year’s Wo Otúh’an Wi Toy Drive. With the help of its partners and supporters across the country, the nonprofit organization seeks to bring holiday joy and magic to more than 1,000 children across the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation later this month.
This toy drive is an unusual one, as it has been since its inception in 1990. Instead of providing gifts for “boy, age 10” and “girl, age 6,” CRYP encourages children to write personal Wish Lists and then delivers to each child at least three or four beautifully wrapped gifts specifically addressed to them, along with much-needed clothing, shoes, bedding and school supplies.
“This has always been personal for us,” said Executive Director Julie Garreau. “We want our kids to experience wishes coming true during the holiday season, and even more than that, we want them to feel on a heart level that they are treasured and deeply loved.”
Delivering such a personalized experience requires a herculean amount of work, but Garreau said CRYP is able to meet the challenge year after year thanks to a dedicated network of partners, supporters and volunteers nationwide. In fact, she calls the toy drive a “nationwide movement to lift up our community.”
“We couldn’t do this without our friends across the country, and even around the world,” she explained. “Gifts pour into Eagle Butte from individual donors and from hard-working volunteer groups who organized their own mini-toy drives on our behalf. Other supporters provide the funds we need to do additional shopping, so we can make sure every child who sends us a Wish List receives their gifts.”
In the Lakota language, Wo Otúh’an Wi means “Moon of Giving Away Presents.” Garreau said this reflects the core Lakota values of generosity and caring for others, which resonate at this time of year.
“Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or the winter solstice, we can all relate to the sacredness of this season — and to the sacredness of our children,” she noted. “Seeing so many people from so many walks of life coming together to make our kids’ dreams come true fills me with tremendous gratitude.”
It’s not too late to support this year’s Wo Otúh’an Wi Toy Drive. Simply visit lakotayouth.org/toy-drive, and from there, you can adopt a Wish List, purchase toys directly from CRYP’s Amazon shopping list, or make a financial contribution and the CRYP team will do the shopping for you.
“Every contribution helps ensure that many hundreds of children will experience a joyous holiday, which they so richly deserve, and also offers an extra measure of support to their families,” Garreau said. “Philámayeye for working alongside us as we care for our community so our relatives may thrive.”
In addition, the youth project is inviting local community members to come to Čhokáta Wičhóni (Center of Life) on Sunday, Dec. 18 for a festive wrapping party. The gathering will begin at 4 p.m. and continue into the evening hours in the hopes of wrapping as many gifts for the children as possible.
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, Instagram, and YouTube.
The Cheyenne River Youth Project is dedicated to giving our Lakota youth and families access to the culturally relevant, enriching, and enduring opportunities we need to build stronger, healthier communities and a more vibrant future together.