The Cheyenne River Youth Project announced today that each of its fall distributions served hundreds of families on South Dakota’s remote Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. These distributions, held in September and October, provided fresh produce, school supplies, homemade meals, and Halloween treats through safe curbside pickups.

In collaboration with Partnership with Native Americans (PWNA) and Pierre, South Dakota-based Rilings Produce, CRYP was able to provide 244 and 267 families with fresh produce in September and October, respectively. Also that month, the nonprofit, grassroots youth organization made sure 572 children from 211 families had all the school supplies they needed for the 2020-21 school year.

“We’re grateful to United Missionary Corporation, the Patrick Church family, and countless individual donors across the country who really stepped up to help us take care of our kids this year,” said Dawn E. LeBeau, CRYP’s deputy director. “Even if school does look different this year, our children still need supplies, and we cannot express how much it means to us that you had our backs during this difficult time — when the need is so great everywhere.”

Next, 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.

“The Harvest Festival celebrates the end of our growing season in the Winyan Toka Win Owózu (Leading Lady Garden),” LeBeau explained. “The Covid-19 pandemic couldn’t stop our work in the garden, and it was a record year for us; we harvested roughly 10,000 pounds of nutritions, pesticide-free produce. We were so honored to be able to share the bounty with our community, even if we couldn’t gather together in the same way.”

Finally, for Halloween, CRYP joined with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) office 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.

“We like collaborating,” said Diane Garreau, CRST ICWA director. “It’s good that the community remembers the annual events, like Harvest Festival and Halloween in October, and the Thanks for Kids dinner this month. It’s a really good thing.”

“Our partners and friends are supporting us in a way that has left us profoundly moved and humbled, because we couldn’t do this without their help,” LeBeau reflected. “Philámayeye. Thank you, all of you, for standing with us.”

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.