On the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, children are eagerly anticipating the start of the new school year. It’s special this time around, because after a year of remote schooling and the fear and uncertainty around Covid-19, they are going back in person.
One thing is certain: To start their new school year the right way, children must have the school supplies they need. Unfortunately, many Lakota families struggle to find room in their household budgets to accommodate this critical need. That’s where the Cheyenne River Youth Project comes in.
“For decades, we have assisted our children and families as they embark on a new school year,” said Jerica Widow, CRYP’s youth programs director. “In the past, we’ve done this with a large annual distribution at our campus. This year, instead of hosting such a large gathering, we’re connecting directly with our Family Services members to fulfill their family requests.
“We’re also connecting with teachers in our schools across the Cheyenne River reservation to fulfill their specific classroom needs,” she continued. “By handling our school supplies distribution this way, we’ll reach even more children and families.”
The nonprofit youth organization has built supplies lists for kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth grade, sixth through eighth grade, and ninth through 12th grade. Based on what’s required for those age groups, CRYP has determined that $30, $40, $60 and $70 will sponsor a child at each level.
“Once a sponsor has contributed the funds, we’ll handle all the shopping and safe delivery to that child,” Widow explained. “And if the sponsor wishes to contribute a backpack as well, an additional $30 will allow us to incorporate that.”
To sponsor a child through CRYP’s 2020 School Supplies Drive, simply visit lakotayouth.org/school-supplies-drive. Here, you can make a secure online donation, or contribute an in-kind donation through Amazon, where specific wish lists itemize the school supplies needed for each set of grades.
“We encourage people to use AmazonSmile, where they can designate CRYP as their preferred charity,” Widow said. “Amazon will donate a percentage of the purchase price to us. It’s another way to support CRYP; we’re raised thousands of dollars through the AmazonSmile program to date.”
CRYP’s annual School Supplies Drive is a major component of its Family Services program, created in 2002. To participate, all a local family needs to do is pay a $30 annual membership fee, which covers all family members for the year and provides access to school supplies, shoes, winter clothing, household supplies, baby items, and the long-running Wo Otuh’an Wi Toy Drive during the holidays.
Those who have current Family Services memberships will receive invitations for their children to participate in the school supplies distribution. If a family does not have a membership but is interested in obtaining one, simply call the CRYP office at (605) 964-8200. All children must have invitations to receive their new school supplies.
To sponsor a child in CRYP’s 2021 School Supplies Drive, or to access the youth project’s Amazon wish list for in-kind donations, please visit lakotayouth.org/school-supplies-drive. Supporters also may send checks and in-kind donations to the Cheyenne River Youth Project, 702 4th St., P.O. Box 410, Eagle Butte, SD 57625.
All contributions need to be in-house no later than Friday, Aug. 13, so CRYP staff members will have time to organize the supplies and prepare for hundreds of excited children. If supplies arrive after the deadline, however, the youth project will continue to collect and distribute them as needed during the final weeks of summer and the first weeks of the new school year.
To learn more about CRYP 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.