With support from the Cheyenne River Youth Project staff, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) office distributed 185 holiday food packages to 126 local families at the CRYP campus on Tuesday, Dec. 22. For public safety, the drive-thru distribution was handled curbside, with staff members bringing the holiday packages to each car.

Each holiday box contained stuffing, gravy, corn, cranberries, pies, whipped cream, and a 5-pound bag of potatoes. With other local community programs providing turkeys, these boxes were thoughtfully designed to help create a festive holiday meal for the whole family.

“This was another successful event, and we got it done in an hour,” said Diane Garreau, CRST ICWA director. “It was so good to provide this to families before the holidays.”

Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, expressed her appreciation for the long partnership between the two organizations.

“We have collaborated with ICWA for several years now on a variety of projects, and we work so well together,” Garreau said. “We’re deeply grateful for this relationship, and we were honored to assist with the distribution of these holiday food packages.”

CRYP has hosted a variety of public distributions since September. According to Dawn E. LeBeau, deputy director, these initiatives became an important part of the nonprofit youth organization’s work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This ongoing public health crisis has made life even more challenging for our community,” LeBeau said. “At CRYP, we understand that one of the best ways to support our children during this difficult time is to help ease the burden on parents and caregivers, so we are deeply grateful to the partners whose generosity made all of this possible.” 

First, in collaboration with Partnership with Native Americans (PWNA) and with support from Pierre, South Dakota-based Rilings Produce, CRYP was able to provide 244 and 267 families with fresh produce in September and October, respectively. In a separate September distribution, CRYP also made sure 572 children from 211 families had all the school supplies they needed for the 2020-21 school year — thanks to contributions from the United Missionary Corporation, the Patrick Church family, and countless individual donors

On Oct. 8, CRYP commemorated its 8th annual Harvest Festival with a free, drive-thru community feed. More than 150 people enjoyed hamburger-vegetable soup, mashed potato squash, Brussels sprouts with barbecue sauce and seasonings, Mexican-style cojita corn, and pumpkin pie.

For Halloween, CRYP  and ICWA joined forces to bring a little extra holiday fun to 181 children. Through their first-ever “Halloween Grab n’ Go,” organizers encouraged youth ages 17 and under to mask up, dress in costumes, and visit the CRYP campus to collect hot chocolate, cupcakes, and candy.

More distributions followed in November. During the week of Nov. 16, CRYP staff conducted three major curbside distributions for the Cheyenne River community in as many days. First, in collaboration with PWNA and with support from Rilings Produce, the youth project distributed 175 free boxes of fresh produce on Nov. 18. 

Next, in partnership with ICWA, CRYP served 175 free home-cooked meals in a drive-thru version of the eagerly anticipated, annual “Thanks for Kids” dinner on Nov. 19. This meal included turkey, ham, stuffing, potatoes, corn, pies, and refreshments. And finally, on Nov. 20, CRYP and PWNA joined together to distribute 153 free turkey boxes for the community. Each box included a turkey, turkey gravy, stuffing, corn, cake mix, chips, drinks, lotion, lip balm, healing salve, hygiene kit, dental kit, and cleaning kit.

To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs — including Wo Otúh’an Wi and Family Services — 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.