The Cheyenne River Youth Project reported today that it expects to serve more than 1,000 children during its Wo Otúh’an Wi Toy Drive. The nonprofit youth organization is currently reaching out to countless supporters around the country to help bring holiday joy and magic to each of those children this year.

In addition to being CRYP’s longest-running and most beloved program, the toy drive also has the broadest impact. Each year, it serves Lakota families in 20 communities across the 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, an area that is the same size as the state of Connecticut.

It’s a tall order, especially since the youth project guarantees that each child receives up to four gifts from their personal “wish list,” as well as much-needed winter clothing and shoes. But it’s worth the weeks of around-the-clock work, from building nationwide partnerships and arranging often complex logistics to collecting, wrapping and distributing the gifts to families.

“This is an important time of year for us as Lakota people,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “The Judeo-Christian holidays are alongside the winter solstice, which is a time of going inward and gathering with our loved ones for warmth, storytelling, nourishment and expressing gratitude as we head into waníyetu (winter) and its dark, cold moons.

“At CRYP, we have chosen to honor this sacred time with our annual toy drive, and we have done so for more than 30 years,” she continued. “Wo Otuh’an Wi means ‘Moon of Giving Away Presents.’ It’s about so much more than gifts; it’s about hope and wishes fulfilled, and it’s about living our Lakota values of generosity and caring for others. It shows our children how loved and precious they are.”

Garreau said there are a variety of ways for supporters to help CRYP staff with this year’s toy drive: adopt a “wish list,” send individual gifts from the youth project’s Amazon list of preferred toys, contribute gift cards or wrapping supplies, donate funds, and volunteer for on-site gift wrapping in December.

This year, the CRYP team also has created a Toy Drive Toolkit so supporters have the information and communications tools they need to create their own mini-toy drives — bringing Wo Otúh’an Wi into their workplaces, schools, religious organizations, neighborhoods, families and friend groups. To adopt a wish list, and for more information about the many ways to help, visit 

“We’re deeply grateful to the network of friends throughout the United States who join with us every year to bring such happiness to our children,” Garreau said. “We couldn’t do this without their kindness and generosity. We’re humbled and honored to work with so many incredible people, and we hope they all know what a difference they make in the lives of our children.” 

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 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.