In collaboration with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Cheyenne River Youth Project distributed food and household items to 300 families on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation on Monday and Tuesday, June 6-7. These included cooked ground beef, corn, green beans, flour, shelf-stable milk, chili, macaroni and spaghetti noodles, spaghetti sauce, mac n’ cheese, white rice, toilet paper, and more.
According to Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, the LDS Church has become an important partner for the youth project. She noted that their collaboration provided approximately 75,000 pounds of food for the local community between January and March.
“We had a ‘market’ of food at our Čhokáta Wičhóni (Center of Life) facility, so families could stop by and pick up some whatever they needed,” Garreau explained. “Some of the food came from our local food bank in Eagle Butte, and some we purchased ourselves, but the rest was due to the generosity and dedication of the LDS Church.”
Garreau and her team have been working closely with Kimberly Austin, who works in field operations for the LDS Church. Austin said the partnership is a great fit for them, as well.
“I first heard about CRYP from a leader in our church,” she remembered. “We discussed ways we might be able to help individuals and families throughout the Dakotas. The best way to do that is to partner with established nonprofits that are already having success in their communities. He mentioned CRYP, and I believe it was just a few weeks later that we were knocking on CRYP’s door.”
At its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, the LDS Church operates a large central storehouse. Food arrives here from church farms throughout North America, and after processing, it is shipped to nonprofit organizations across the continent.
“Each farm produces a crop or animal that grows best in that climate,” Austin said. “For example, raisins are grown in California, watermelons in Washington, wheat in Montana, and oranges in Florida. We also have many cattle ranches and chicken farms.”
The LDS Church is known for its humanitarian efforts worldwide, including immunization, disease control, vision, clean water, education, and wheelchair initiatives. In the last three years, the church has restructured its humanitarian department to better localize its efforts. That way, Austin explained, it can find the CRYPs of the world.
“We want to try to help our neighbors who are doing really good things,” she said. “Our belief is all about finding and serving the one; every human is precious and worthy of love and a chance to succeed.
“This is exactly what CRYP does,” she continued. “It embraces the one, which ultimately will affect generations and nations. I’m so blessed and grateful to build a lifelong friendship with Julie and the staff at CRYP.”
LDS missionaries assisted CRYP staff with this week’s distribution. While on site, they also offered a helping hand in the youth project’s 3-acre Winyan Toka Win (Leading Lady) Garden.
“We’re deeply grateful to the missionaries, to Kimberly, and to the LDS Church as a whole for their friendship and support,” Garreau said. “As we say in Lakota, Wópila Táŋka Ečíčiyepi — with great gratitude. Relationships are very precious to us; without them, we simply wouldn’t be able to continue pursuing our mission in this community. Our partners make our work 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.