On Monday, Feb. 1, the Cheyenne River Youth Project officially launched its annual Winter Clothing Drive, seeking to provide families on South Dakota’s remote Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation with warm coats, boots, and other winter wear. Instead of hosting a traditional one-day distribution, the nonprofit organization will arrange curbside pickups with families from Feb. 1 to Feb. 28.

“It’s getting cold here in South Dakota, and we need to get this much-needed clothing to our families as soon as we can,” said Jerica Widow, CRYP’s youth programs director. “So we’ll start fulfilling requests immediately with the clothing we have on hand, and we’ll arrange pickup times and dates with heads of households through Feb. 28. We’ll continue accepting donations in the days and weeks ahead so we can support as many families as possible.”

The distribution is open to all members of the Family Services program. Heads of households may provide preferred sizes for coats and boots through a new online form at https://lakotayouth.org/programs/family-services/membership/. Families who do not have online access are welcome to call the CRYP office at (605) 964-8200 and provide the information verbally.

“Please fill out your request form soon, so we can make sure your family members receive what they need,” Widow said. “And if you’re not a member of Family Services yet, please consider submitting your application now. This is a perfect opportunity take advantage of our program and its benefits. You can fill out our application form online, and if you have questions or need to complete the form over the phone, contact us at 964-8200.”

The Winter Clothing Drive is a major component of Family Services, which CRYP created in 2002 to manage increasing amounts of donated supplies. To participate in the program, a local family pays a $30 annual membership fee, which covers all of that household’s family members for one year.

“That membership fee covers all of our distributions, from shoes and winter clothing to school supplies and the long-running Wo Otúh’an Wi Toy Drive,” Widow said. “Families also can pick up needed household supplies and baby items on a regular basis. During the Covid pandemic, in keeping with public health guidelines, we will handle all distributions curbside.”

To make a contribution to this year’s Winter Clothing Drive, supporters can either make a financial contribution at https://lakotayouth.org/give/, or send in-kind donations to CRYP, 702 4th St., Eagle Butte, SD 57625. In particular, CRYP needs adult sizes of coats and boots.

“While we already have quite a few jackets on hand for children, we do need larger sizes for the grown-ups — size large and up for coats, and sizes 9 to 12 for snow boots,” Widow said. 

She reminded supporters to fill out CRYP’s in-kind donation form if they plan to ship coats and boats to the Eagle Butte campus. The form also available on the website’s Giving page; visit  https://lakotayouth.org/give/ and click on the “In-Kind Donation” button. 

“Not only does this documentation help us, it also provides the necessary record for your taxes,” Widow explained.

CRYP will be accepting financial and in-kind donations for this year’s Winter Clothing Drive until Monday, Feb. 22. 

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, 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.